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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Iceberg Right Ahead

What exactly does Bud Selig have to do to be fired as commissioner of Major League Baseball?

On his watch, the league has endured a strike that ended the World Series in 1994, the first time the Fall Classic wasn't staged since 1904. He attempted to contract two teams less than 48 hours after the thrilling conclusion of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks. A year later he presided over the most embarrassing All-Star Game in league history.

Who can forget an obviously dejected Bud in the first row behind a dugout, looking like he'd rather be enduring limb removal surgery without anesthesia than telling officials to end the game in a tie?

Most importantly and most obviously, Selig has been the commissioner during the rise of steroids. This single issue has tainted the game beyond repair.

Baseball more than any other sport is a game of numbers. In the NFL, the most touchdown passes in a season and a career, and the most career rushing yards in a season and career, are pretty much the only numbers any casual fan cares about. Even then, career numbers almost always are more important than single season accomplishments.

Basketball numbers are insignificant and hockey is a mystery to half the country. But in baseball, fans know that 56 is a magic number. So is 30. So was 755. Five hundred is a benchmark. Three thousand too. I don't even have to specify what those numbers mean to anyone who follows baseball (if you don't, the numbers correspond to most consecutive games with a hit, wins by a pitcher in a season, which hasn't been done since 1968, most career home runs; 500 career home runs used to be an automatic admission to the Hall of Fame, same with 3,000 career hits).

I could plug in some additional numbers, but you get the point. In baseball, because there are so many games, statistics indicate success. Championships are nice to be sure, but individual numbers define ability.

Under Selig's leadership, the career home run king has all but been convicted of using steroids. The most dominant right handed pitcher in history made a fool of himself in front of Congress. Two of the more prolific home run hitters in modern history have been discredited. The fourth member of the 500 home run, 3,000 hit club (a very exclusive membership to be sure) was caught lying about steroid use.

And now, probably the game's best all around player, widely considered to be one of the best ever, has admitted to taking steroids.

A game dominated by numbers is now tainted by those very numbers. Nobody can take numbers in baseball seriously anymore.

And the one constant in all this is Bud Selig. My "Random House College Dictionary" defines "lead" as "...to show the way...to conduct by holding or guiding."

Selig's done a hell of a job "guiding" Major League Baseball. And come the opening of spring training, he'll still have his hand on the tiller. How much closer can he come to the rocks before someone commits mutiny?

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