By In Stuff

The Vote Is In

Well, as expected, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday by the Today’s Game committee. Schuerholz was voted in unanimously; he got all 16 votes. Selig got 15 of the 16.

I figured there were enough votes for one more person to come close, but as it turns out there there were not. Lou Piniella got seven of the 16 votes — you needed 12 to get in. None of the other candidates got even five votes. I’m a bit surprised it was Piniella and not Steinbrenner who garnered moderate support, but it doesn’t really matter. This was the John and Bud Show from the start.

There’s a lot more to come on the enormous impact of Bud Selig on the game … and on John Schuerholz’s reasons for success. For now, though,here’s one quick Bud Selig story. It happened years ago, when I was columnist in Kansas City. I had written a column about hope, and how it was lacking in baseball. This was around the time when the money gap between the richest teams and the poorest was more or less the only topic of conversation in places like Kansas City and Minnesota and Milwaukee and the like. You might remember that the subtitle of the classic “Moneyball” is “The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.”

In any case, I wrote this thing about the lack of hope in Kansas City on Opening Day and how hard that was for a baseball town.

The next day, I got a call from Bud Selig. It was one of those “Can you please hold for Commissioner Selig” type calls, and I held, and he came on. I had never spoken with him before. He told me that he had read my column (this was shocking to me; it was before the rise of the Internet) in the day before Internet) and he wanted me to know that it had moved him and that his biggest mission as commissioner of baseball was to bring hope back to places like Kansas City.

“Someday,” he told me, “you will be writing a column about the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.”

In the years that followed, I talked with Bud Selig many times, usually when he disagreed with something that I wrote. But I never forgot that first call. Bud Selig was a man determined to reshape baseball, and he did reshape the game in countless ways that people still argue about today. But always, I think, he was a baseball fan first, a hot-dog-with-mustard, stand-and-sing-during-the-seventh-inning-stretch, take-your-kids-to-the-game,  baseball fan who believed deeply in the power of hope on Opening Day.


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76 Responses to The Vote Is In

  1. Knickles says:

    Yeah gonna be at least a dozen people excited to see Selig inducted.

    • Jay Stevens says:

      Damn. I’ve been spending too much time on FB and Twitter. I keep looking around for the little heart to click.

    • SDG says:

      It’s weird trying to include commissioners in the first place. What do you judge them on? There’s an absurdly small sample size, and they commissioned (I’ve decided that’s the verb for whatever it is they do) under such incredibly different circumstances. I bet if most baseball people could go back in time, they would admit that they never should have elected Landis in the first place (and not just for the obvious reason) and started this whole ball rolling.

      Because Landis had a huge, lasting influence on the game, and presided over the period where it became such a deep part of American culture. But if you include Landis, you have to include Chandler, even though Chandler didn’t do much of significance except one really, really, important thing. And then you’re comparing the expansion era with cable with the internet with Curt Flood.

      On the upside, Selig getting in means Bonds pretty much has to be, right? You can’t enshrine the man who tacitly encouraged steroids and punish a player for using them.

      • invitro says:

        “There’s an absurdly small sample size” — You seem to not understand what “sample size” means. The term is used when an actual sample is taken, which is when the entire population is not accessible to experiment, and the size of the sample then determines how representative the sample is of the population. Well, in this case, the entire population is easily accessible (as it is in most sports studies) — there’s only been a handful of commissioners. Indeed, the “sample size” is actually absurdly *large* — it’s 100%.

  2. Andrew Brems says:

    Always thought Steinbrenner and Marvin Miller should have gone in years ago, together. Steinbrenner let the genie out of the bottle, and Miller made sure he stayed out.

  3. Johnny P says:

    It’s easy for fans to forget how much certain teams dominated baseball during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Between 1998 and 2001, only six American League teams made the playoffs. Six!

    Over the past four years, twelve AL teams have made the playoffs. A lot of that has to do with Bud’s policies and ideas. And complain all you want about too many mediocre teams making the playoffs, but fewer fan bases without playoff teams isn’t good for baseball.

    • Johnny P says:

      That should be seven teams made the playoffs between 1998 and 2001: NYY, BOS, CLE, CHW, TEX, OAK, SEA. Still not great.

    • invitro says:

      This looks like cherry-picking of data to me. And if 6 and 12 are the minimum and maximum of different playoff teams in a league during a four-year span, then big whoop. What’s good for baseball is periods of dynasties alternating with periods of parity.

      • SDG says:

        What’s good for baseball is teams winning because they find the best players, train them in the most effective ways, and use the best strategies. What’s bad for baseball is when one team can afford to buy all the top free agents and then not even play them, just to stop another team from getting them. That’s not all about money, but a lot of that is about money.

        Statistically, that means some teams will have periods of dominance and others will have periods of loss. But overall, small-market teams shouldn’t be at a structural disadvantage. Especially since putting together a team relies less on innovation (the information age means best practices get universal very fast) and more on money. The players are put in the same colleges or Latin baseball academies and the same scouts look at the same players and make decisions based on the same analytics, increasingly.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        I agree that too much parity isn’t great. People like dominant teams, if, for nothing else,to root against. But the dynasties shouldn’t be limited to big markets. In the NFL, for example, you have had dynasties in Green Bay and Pittsburgh, etc. But baseball did ok even where there was a multi-decade dynasty.

        • invitro says:

          Well… I know you know this, and it was 20-40 years ago, but Cincinnati had a baseball dynasty, and Oakland had two of them; those are both teeny tiny markets. I don’t think Atlanta is all that big of a market, but I’m not sure if it’s considered big or small. We haven’t had many dynasties since the last Yankees one, but the main contenders are probably St. Louis and San Francisco, maybe Boston. SF and Boston are certainly huge markets, but St. Louis is another small one. So I don’t think that dynasties are limited to big markets in MLB, or ever have been (except maybe in the 1930’s & 1950’s?).

          • Marc Schneider says:

            Well, the first Cincinnati and Oakland dynasties were both in the 1970s before free agency, which changed the dynamics. (Not sure if you are referring to Oakland 1988-1990.) Atlanta is not a large market, but the Braves had the good fortune to be owned by Ted Turner just when CNN was taking off and, of course, he was able to show the team on his own network. So I don’t think the Braves really count as a small market.

            I do think revenue sharing and the new playoff formats in recent years have made it easier for smaller market teams to win consistently than, say, in the 1980s or 90s. At least that’s what people argue; I’m not sure it wasn’t just bad management.

    • DJ Mc says:

      As already pointed out it was seven teams. So over a four-year period, half of the teams in the AL made the playoffs. Three of them in noted small markets.

      The whole idea of big-market dominance has been overblown for decades, usually pushed by owners who want to artificially hold down the money they have to pay players.

  4. MIchael Koeneke says:

    You’re right Joe. Bud, love him, hate him, is/was Everyman. By default thru Milwaukee, he saw things as we did…knife to a gunfight.

  5. Brian says:

    Let’s take a look at the resume of Bud Selig…

    -Key figure in the owner’s collusion scandal of the 80’s
    -Commissioner during the almost ruinous 1994 ‘season without a World Series’
    -Blind eye to issue of steroids in baseball until it threatened the bottom line, then led the charge vilifying anyone suspected of using steroids

    On the plus side, he made a lot of money for the owners, though that was largely by funding a construction boom on the back of blackmailed taxpayers.

    But yeah, he loved baseball I guess. So let’s put that guy in the hall.

  6. invitro says:

    Good article, and I’m looking forward to reading more about Schuerholz and Selig. FWIW, I don’t hold the steroid stuff too much against Selig; that’s mainly the players’ union’s responsibility. And I think people that are still upset about that tie All-Star Game need to go back to their safe spaces and therapy poodles. The main problem with Selig that I have is that I believe he lied repeatedly about baseball finances during the strike, and later contraction threats. (I don’t even blame him for Montreal’s move; if you understand the history of Expos baseball, you know the blame for that lies with the politicians who enabled the Olympic Stadium architect to fleece Montreal’s citizens (“money is just a piece of paper”), or maybe with the general state of Montreal/Quebec politics, or maybe with stupid radio/tv deals made by the Expos management.)

  7. Sam says:

    Real glad to see that Big Mac still isn’t in!
    1) baseball obviously would have found a way to win back the country after the strike, even if he hadn’t taken all those ‘roids and socked all those dingers– with a guy like Bud in charge, that was always a given. Also even if the sport had continued to spiral into obscurity, that probably wouldn’t have had any real impact on Bud’s legacy as a commissioner.

    2) Mark bears complete, sole responsibility for his shameful, dirty, dirty cheating. It’s not like there was some guy who was in charge of the leagues who could have banned steroids, raised awareness about doping in baseball, or worked with the union to impose testing. It’s not like this hypothetical “in charge of baseball person” would have personally benefited from Mark’s cheating even more than Mark did (while keeping his testicles in more or less their original condition).

    • SDG says:

      I know. As annoyed as I am by Selig being in yes, he did some good things but a significant part of that is timing and Selig basically got dragged around by circumstance – the silver lining is that this forces everyone to stop screwing around with the steroid players. If the steroid commissioner is in, and the steroid owners are in, it’s not right to keep out the players. Selig calls his buddy Hank Aaron the real home run king, as though Selig had absolutely nothing to do with why Aaron no longer holds the record.

      Also, while on paper attendance might be up, under Selig’s tenure, in the last 25-ish years baseball interest has died among the young. Football, basketball, and even soccer are more culturally prominent. In a few years the MLB is going to be feeling the effects of that, hard. The first priority of the commissioner should be to ensure that baseball thrives. There shouldn’t be a dozen books about the players from the 1950 coming out in the last few years alone, while Mike Trout plays in a major city and is one of the greatest ever and no one knows who he is.

      • other Brian says:

        Don’t forget the first steroid manager being in (LaRussa)

      • Marc Schneider says:

        It’s sort of ridiculous to blame Selig for declining interest in baseball. There are lots of reasons for that but, in fact, interest in baseball has been declining probably since WW II and certainly since the rise of the NFL (and, not coincidentally, TV) in the 1950s. The fact is, baseball is a relatively slow sport that is not well-suited for TV.

        • invitro says:

          The facts I’m looking at say this “decline of interest” since the 1950’s is nonsense. Attendance (per game) has doubled since 1976 and tripled since 1950. How on earth can that be possible if interest is declining? Now, TV viewers have declined pretty rapidly since the 1980’s, so you might be able to say interest has fallen since then. But since the 1950’s? Please. If you have some data to support your claim, I’d like to see it… otherwise, I think baseball is actually quite near its peak of interest, which occurred in the 1980’s… just before Selig took over.

          • Marc Schneider says:

            Well, he was saying that young people no longer like baseball and attributing that to Selig. Perhaps I exaggerated about the 1950s, but the NFL has been gaining popularity relative to baseball for many decades. As far as attendance, that’s somewhat entangled, I would think, with income effects; in other words, people in general have more money so attendance at all sporting events (and other entertainments) have increased. I would bet you would see that a lot more people eat out now than they did 50/60/70 years ago. In other words, the fact that attendance is higher doesn’t mean that interest in the game is higher; it simply means that the population is larger and that people generally can afford to go to more sporting events. In any event, I don’t see what Selig did to make the game less popular, which was the gist of the comment.

          • invitro says:

            OK, I guess I went off on a minor point, sorry about that. I agree that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Selig made baseball less popular. One argument though: I used per-game attendance, not total attendance, so the US population increase should not be a huge factor, since the size of the league has almost doubled since 1950. Point taken though, an attendance per capita would be a better measure. Increased “infrastructure” making it easier to get to games, and be safe while at them, has probably also been a factor in increased attendance. (I also don’t know of any evidence that young people in particular are less interested in baseball. Everyone says that, but why?)

          • SDG says:

            Who was the last big baseball celebrity? Who is baseball’s LeBron or Shaq or Kobe or Curry? Or Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? I don’t care about basketball or football and I know who those guys are. The few times makes the news it’s for nostalgia reasons aimed at old people (Ripken breaking the streak, the Red Sox and Cubs winning the series) or side stories that have nothing to do with the actual sport (Moneyball).
            Millennials are increasingly not watching baseball. The fanbase is aging. This doesn’t end well for the MLB.

  8. Philip Christy says:

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day. A million monkeys typing for a million years… A claim that “someday you will be writing a column about the Kansas City Royals in the World Series” is far more likely to be correct than incorrect. You could say that about any given team right now, in any sport, and you’ll be right like 80% of the time. It would be more impressive if he told you that a given team WOULDN’T ever be in the championship and was correct.

  9. Knuckles says:

    Bud stole the pilots from Seattle f him!!

  10. Herbert Smith says:

    What Schuerholz the original MoneyBall guy? It seems as if he used a lot of those same principles, but just didn’t chat freely about it, like Beane did. I could be wrong.
    I wonder if any team in any professional sport has ever had a run like the Atlanta Braves had from 1991 until around 2008?

    Imagine being a fan of a team that makes the playoffs every single year. Not 14 of 16, like the Berra/Mantle Yanks from ’49 to ’64.
    Every. Single. Year.

    • Peter says:

      Herbert, I’m not sure if it is what you have in mind with your post, but the English football league has a history of this kind of dominance. Manchester United were in the top three for 22 consecutive seasons to 2013, winning 13 titles. Arsenal have been similarly consistent recently, appearing in the top 4 of the league every one of the last 20 seasons.

      It’s pretty impressive even for a league where money talks far more even than in baseball, and success tends to breed greater success.

      Liverpool had a spell of dominance 1972-1991 where they finished in the top 4 all but one season – I was thinking how disappointing that one season finishing 5th must have seemed to their fans, until I realised this was 1981, when Liverpool beat Real Madrid to raise the European cup for the 3rd time…

    • Marc Schneider says:

      I’m a Braves fan, but I’m not sure it’s an apples to apples comparison between the Braves and the Yankees. The Yankees had to win the pennant every year to get in the playoffs, ie, winning the most games in the league. The Braves didn’t have to do that, although they did have the best record in the league 10 of the 14 years. In 1994, they probably would not have won the division but would have made the playoffs as a wildcard. In one of the years the Yankees didn’t win, they won 103 games but lost out to Cleveland, which won 111. Obviously, they would have gotten in today. Plus, of course, the Yankees won the World Series most of the years they got in.

      On the other hand, of course, the Yankees didn’t have to deal with free agency so they could keep Mantle, Berra, etc. around at under-market rates.

  11. Pat says:

    Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens might be the best hitter and pitcher ever to play the game, but they’re de facto ineligible because of the steroid era.

    Meanwhile, the caretaker of the steroid era just got elected with 15 out of 16 ballots.

    Completely dumbfounding.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      It’s not as if Selig forced the players to take steroids. Maybe he turned a blind eye or maybe he realized the union would NEVER have agreed to testing or suspensions at that point. In any event, I don’t think he ever sent a memo requiring players to take steroids. The players did it on their own because they thought it would help them make more money.

      • SDG says:

        Sure, he didn’t tie Canseco up and forcibly inject the steroids into his butt, but come on. He let steroids run rampant, creating an arms race where players knew they had to do something unethical and dangerous just to play in the league. Plenty of players were told to “bulk up” in the offseason or they’d get cut. It’s a brutally competitive industry, and if your manager or whoever lets it be known you use steroids or go back to the DR, what do you think will happen?

        Frankly, Selig is incredibly lucky there was no Jackie Robinson West-type scandal where a bunch of youth players all developed massive health problems because they started roiding as twelve-year-olds.

        • Marc Schneider says:

          The question is, would ANY commissioner, given the context, have done any different than Selig? I doubt it. I’m not saying he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame-probably none of the commissioners do-but blaming him for the steroids problem simply because it blew up on his watch doesn’t make sense to me. The fact is that taking artificial substances to boost performance, ie, greenies, predated Selig by a lot. And it’s not as if baseball is/was the only sport with a steroids problem, although it seems to get most of the attention.

          As for baseball being brutally competitive and breeding an arms race atmosphere, that’s certainly true, but it has little to do with Clemens and Bonds, who were already stars and just decided to get a little help to increase their stardom. It’s not as if they had to take steroids to pay the bills. I personally think they both should be in the Hall of Fame, but giving them a pass because Bud Selig didn’t take some action that the players would almost certainly would have rejected seems a bit unfair.

          • SDG says:

            The reason commissioners get far more money for doing far less work than the players, is because occasionally (not too often) they are called on to display leadership. He could have forced the issue with the players. Hell, even making a public statement would have forced the union to agree with him. Look at football and World Cup soccer and the Olympics for what happens when you let stuff get out of control.

            Besides, Selig does more whining than anything about how the HR records are tainted. He could at least acknowledge that some of that is on him.

        • invitro says:

          “Plenty of players were told to “bulk up” in the offseason or they’d get cut.” — This is a strong claim, do you have any evidence for it? I recently read Juiced, and I don’t remember a single allegation of managers or coaches telling players to bulk up. If anything, they told players to slim down, because they thought big muscles were bad for baseball. I think the players started mass steroid usage entirely on their own, from talking to each other.

      • Darrel says:

        Why is it that in these discussions everyone appears to think that Bud could have waved his magic wand and just declared steroids illegal and instituted vigorous and voila problem solved.

        Except about that. There was this guy named Don Fehr. Who nobody ever mentions. His union was busy kicking the owners ass from pillar to post and there was no way he was going to let testing happen. Chicks dig the long ball after all and that is how his guys got paid. On the list of people to blame about the steroid era Selig comes in a distant third. Behind the players many of whom broke actual laws to cheat the game and their fellow players and Don Fehr’s union.

        • SDG says:

          Either Selig was so greedy he let steroids happen, or he was so incompetent he got owned by the Players’ Union. Neither exlpanation is flattering.

          • Marc Schneider says:


            I’m not saying Selig deserves a medal for what happened with steroids. I’m just saying there were a lot of other reasons than just “Selig let it happen.”

  12. DJ Mc says:

    You mention the subtitle of Moneyball, but it seems like you are ignoring what is essentially the thesis of the book. A group of owners, led by Commissioner Selig, were pushing the idea that small-market clubs couldn’t compete against the big-market clubs. They were demanding revenue sharing and salary caps and other artificial measures to “level the field” (and, in a complete and entirely unintended coincidence, hold down player salaries). But the way the A’s were winning was hurting their argument.

    I think quite a few of the good things that happened during Selig’s tenure as commissioner happened in spite of him, not because of him. In most things, he elected to stay aloof and not make a decision, which was good for some issues but less so for others (like the situation in Oakland). And things where he took a hands-on approach, like forcing the move of the Expos into Washington by hell or high water, brought unintended consequences that are still being dealt with.

    That doesn’t even take into account his leadership during the strike and the tacit embrace of PEDs in the following years.

    He may be the most impactful commissioner ever, but that isn’t always a good thing. Just look at the kind of people named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine over the years; the honorific isn’t necessarily a positive one.

  13. Otistaylor89 says:

    Bud Seilg being elected makes sick, but not as much as Bowie Kuhn or Tom Yawkey or the lack of Marvin Miller.
    A blind monkey could have done just as good a job as Bud and done a better job than Kuhn.

    • invitro says:

      Kuhn is reviled, but he did preside over a period of enormous, unprecedented attendance increases through his term (1969-1984). He is the person responsible for night World Series games, which resulted in massively more television viewers. In fact, I don’t know if any commissioner presided over such explosive growth in baseball… Landis, maybe? Kuhn is also responsible for getting Negro Leaguers into the HoF, albeit in a rather sloppy way, and his crackdown on hard drugs was I think the first in sports, and possibly even the first successful “war on drugs” in all of culture.

      Hmm… Kuhn seems like a pretty outstanding commissioner to me. He had pretty severe image problems, but mature people shouldn’t care about that. He was sloppy about the labor wars, but they were also entirely unprecedented, and I don’t know quite why he gets so much blame for them. What’s the reason people hate him so much?

    • SDG says:

      You know how the Frankie Frisch selections were universally considered so bad that they let to the VC process being completely revamped? That should have happened for managers/execs/commissioners after Yawkey got in. I wonder why it hasn’t.

      • invitro says:

        Because the Yawkey selection is not so bad. His players loved him, and he did a world of good through philanthropy. On the other hand, the Frisch/Giants selections are entirely bad.

        • SDG says:

          Yawkey: Owned the Red Sox (a team in a huge market with a devoted fan base) for 44 years. 3 pennants, no rings. Does that sound like a good owner to you?

          Who cares if he was a philanthropist. Plenty of replacement-level players do charity work, and good for them, but you know as I do that has nothing to do with whether you get into the Hall.

          He took a team with great players (including the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived) and ran it so incompetently it consistently underperformed. He didn’t innovate or do anything to change or improve baseball. Even his plaque is like, “uh.. his teams flew by plane, I guess? After MacPhail did it, but still? I guess that’s something?”

          • Brett Alan says:

            Also, he owned a team that didn’t have a black player until more than a decade after Jackie Robinson broke the color line, and continued to trade away it’s most promising African-Americans into the 1970s. That has to undercut the philanthropy angle.

  14. BobDD says:

    There are people in the HoF that I think should not be in (Haines, Lindstrom, etc.) and players not in that should be (Bonds, Clemens) so that the HoF is permanently tainted to me. I tell myself that I don’t even care about it anymore, but I guess I do because it still aggravates me that Selig is in. Not as bad as Kuhn though!

    Selig is the ‘Steroid Era’ commissioner. We haven’t even let all-time greats like Bonds and Clemens in the HoF because the ‘Steroid Era’ is so bad, but we put in the official custodian of that whole mess? Can’t anybody here play this game?

    APBA and Strat forever!

  15. Tampa Mike says:

    I hate that Selig was elected, but I’m not surprised. His reign over the steroid era should keep him out. He was a horrible commissioner that did more damage to the game than good. Forever etched in my brain is his face during “The Tie”.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Really? He did so much damage that attendance and revenue is at an all time high. And there has been labor peace since 1994. As for “the tie”, who cares except that it caused him to come up with the stupid idea of tying home field to the ASG.

      People seem to have the idea that the Commissioner of Baseball is supposed to be a nonpartisan arbiter, serving the best interests of the fans and players. Give me a break. The Commissioner is the CEO of (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) and his job is to safeguard the owners’ interests and, incidentally, the players and fans to the extent that those interests align. It’s no different than a corporation.

      • invitro says:

        I agree with all of this :). Now, I believe the commissioner is supposed to serve the fans’ interests, and often does so, but those interests are generally subservient to the owners’ interests. But wasn’t Landis pretty independent of the owners, who decided to make sure the commish was more in tune with them, from them on?

      • SDG says:

        The commissioner’s job is to ensure baseball thrives. That it makes money, maintains cultural relevance, and doesn’t hurt people. That’s why they decided to have a commissioner in the first place. The fact that it’s become a tool for a few owners to screw players and arguably fans, doesn’t mean it was supposed to be.

        Why is Landis considered a failure? He safeguarded the owners’ interests, after all. By your logic, even though what he did hurt players and fans and was deeply immoral, he did the bidding of (most of) the owners and should be judged a success.

        • Marc Schneider says:

          But Landis was hired by the owners in desperation because of the gambling scandals (in particular, of course, the 1919 Black Sox.) The owners were afraid that the game was going to go down the tank. It’s not as if the players and fans decided to hire a commissioner; it was the owners. Do you really think they were envisioning a position that would be a neutral arbiter for the owners, players, and fans? With all due respect, that’s pretty naïve. As for him being a “failure”, that’s people on here characterizing him because of their own attitudes. I would bet the owners did not consider him a failure. They certainly did not fire him. He cleaned up the game and protected their profits. You are making a normative judgment that Landis was not a success, but that’s only looking at him from a particular perspective and it clearly was not the owners’. It’s like Roger Goodell; people might call him a failure because of the all the issues, but I don’t see the owners rushing to replace him.

          I’m not justifying what Landis did, but that is what the job of commissioner is and, contrary to your argument, what it was most likely intended to be. And it always will be as long as professional sports teams are private businesses.

          • SDG says:

            Sure. Plenty of private businesses have screwed themselves by only focusing on the short-term. Goodell is a geat example. Do you think the NFL will be the dominant sport in America years from now? After boys stop playing when they’re young because of all the brain damage? Or when fans leave because of all the domestic violence that gets ignored? How many corporate events or big splashy media things will they have after the 800th player beats up his girlfriend?

            A CEO should ensure his company is profitable for years to come. He shouldn’t run his company into the ground so the shareholders can cash out (that would be the owners in this case) and then stripmine what’s left of baseball and move on.

            As for Landis, whether the owners considered him a failure is beside the point. (Most hated him, for entirely valid reasons, which is why they picked Chandler, who they thought would do the owners’ bidding, not that that’s the point). I was specifically talking about segregation. Most of the owners wanted it. Landis agreed. All that happened was he delayed the inevitable and made baseball look terrible in the process. Leaving morality aside, it was a bad business decision. Regardless of what the owners wanted.

        • Marc Schneider says:

          You might be right, but that’s the nature of the job. Commissioners get picked by the owners, just as CEOs get picked by the Board of Directors. The owners obviously wanted someone who would protect their interests as they saw them; for many years, that meant preserving the Reserve Clause. They didn’t hire Landis to preserve the game of baseball in some pure state; they hired him to make sure that the game survived and made money for them. The owners might well be wrong-as are many BODs that hire CEOs that screw the company into the ground-but that is what the job is. I would like it if the Commissioner were independent and acting in the interest of the game as a whole, but that’s not how the system operates.

      • Tampa Mike says:

        Attendance is at an all time high now, but things got a little shaky in the aftermath of the Steroid Era. Don’t forget how much the game suffered during all the congressional hearings and with use accusations flying everywhere. Selig was in control during the entire Steroid Era and did absolutely nothing about it. It took the humiliation of Congress to force action.

        Selig was acting commissioner during the 1994 strike, so no credit there.

  16. john says:

    I like baseball and hot dogs too. Put me in.

  17. David says:

    No one will read this far down the comments, Joe, but I’ve got a fantastic Bud Selig story I need to tell you.

    My best friend, a good Milwaukee boy (as I am) was the student graduation speaker at the University of Wisconsin in 2009. The commencement speaker that year was none other than Alan H. “Bud” Selig. This friend of mine, named Josh, is a HUGE baseball fan. So as he and Bud are standing in the tunnel at Camp Randall waiting to head in, they get to talking. Bud asks Josh what he’s going to do next year. Josh tells him the truth – he’s going to Rabbinical School to become a rabbi. Bud says to him, “You know, my dad always wanted me to be a rabbi.” Josh, without missing a beat, responded, “That’s funny. My dad always wanted me to be commissioner of Major League Baseball.” Bud got a good laugh out of that one.

    • invitro says:

      That’s a good one. Do Milwaukee people hate Selig as much as the rest of the country?

      • Dr. Doom says:

        In general, I would say no. We don’t have that many celebrities come from Milwaukee, so we pretty much celebrate whoever we get. I don’t think that’s unique to Milwaukee, though. Remember when Barry Bonds was getting booed in every ballpark in America, but San Franciscans still loved him? I think it’s like that – you protect your own. Remember, he brought baseball back to Milwaukee after the Braves left, so all baseball fans in Milwaukee feel like they owe him SOMETHING.

        That said, once he became commissioner, you can see what happened to the team – he basically stopped caring. So there were a LOT of mixed feelings. His daughter ran the team ineptly, and most people really didn’t appreciate Bud’s leaving for a “better” job. But then, when the Seligs finally DID sell, they would only do so to an owner who would agree to let the team stay put, so… it’s a mixed bag. But in the end, he’s “our” guy, even if we acknowledge his flaws – and feel a few of those flaws that most of the country doesn’t even think about.

  18. Dave says:

    Bud Selig’s no hot-dog-with-mustard baseball fan. It’s well documented that he has a hot dog with ketchup for lunch nearly every day at a custard stand.

    • mrh says:

      “Ketchup does not belong on a hot dog.” – Waitress at Chicago area hot dog stand, circa 1988

      In response to an order of a hot dog with everything, no ketchup.

  19. Hamster Huey says:

    My indelible memory of Bud: when he was introduced as commissioner, he told the old yarn about how he always wanted to be a ballplayer, and it wasn’t until he saw his first curveball that he knew he’d never make it. I’ve heard lines like this before, even from credible sources like a HS classmate who made AA as a middle infielder (saw Johan Santana on a rehab assignment and knew he’d never match up). But somehow, from Bud, it rang false to me, like a guy who just knew what he should say to sound like a baller. Later, I saw him throw out a first pitch. It was, ah, not the throwing motion of a man who came thisclose to making the majors. It is the throwing motion of a guy who wanted to try to pretend like he always wanted to play in the majors, but who actually always wanted to own an MLB team. Fairly or unfairly, I’ve thought of him as an insincere BS artist ever since.

    (Found a similar quote to the one I remember here: , and a clip of a Selig first pitch: ).

  20. NevadaMark says:

    My goodness, all this arguing about Bud Selig and the steroid era. THE MAN CANCELLED THE WORLD SERIES for God’s sake. There’s no argument, no nuance, no “timing” involved here. Bud and his merry band of owners made RIDICULOUS demands on the players union, demands that had not the slightest possibility of being accepted. He wanted a strike and he wanted to break the union and if that meant no more baseball, well, tough s*&t. And he was perfectly willing to pollute baseball’s record book with replacement players (bye bye, Ripken’s streak). He was basically saved from himself by the court system. And THIS is a man for the Hall of Fame? And we’re arguing steroids? I truly do not understand.

    • Justin says:

      For me, discussing Selig’s commissionership throughout the steroid era is relevant not because I feel it should keep him out, but because of who else has been kept out because of their association with the era.

      I figured Bud would get in – he was a long-tenured commish and that’s pretty much enough. It’s just disappointing to know that the players from that era (some of whom were credited with “saving baseball” and others of whom were among the greatest of all time) need to buy a ticket to get into the Hall while the guy overseeing baseball during that time gets elected.

      If someone’s a no-steroids hardliner, they can’t make an argument for Bud that doesn’t paint him as either complicit/fully accepting of PED use until Congress got involved and public opinion on the matter turned, or less knowledgeable about what was going on in the sport than the average fan.

  21. duncan says:

    It’s a real crapshoot nowadays with even Joe’s HOF posts whether we’re going to get clear eyed analysis or sentimental slop.

    Collusion, strike, steroids. Those things happened. But I guess he made a nice phone call to Joe one time.

  22. Hamster Huey says:

    Apologies if this shows up twice; my first attempt (which included supporting links for both Bud’s story, and video of the first pitch), has been awaiting moderation for >48 hrs now (perhaps because it contained multiple urls?) and I’m not sure if it will emerge from the ether, so here goes:

    My indelible memory of Bud: when he was introduced as commissioner, he told the old yarn about how he always wanted to be a ballplayer, and it wasn’t until he saw his first curveball that he knew he’d never make it. I’ve heard lines like this before, even from credible sources like a HS classmate who made AA as a middle infielder (saw Johan Santana on a rehab assignment and knew he’d never match up). But somehow, from Bud, it rang false to me, like a guy who just knew what he should say to sound like a baller. Later, I saw him throw out a first pitch. It was, ah, not the throwing motion of a man who came thisclose to making the majors. It is the throwing motion of a guy who wanted to try to pretend like he always wanted to play in the majors, but who actually always wanted to own an MLB team. Fairly or unfairly, I’ve thought of him as an insincere BS artist ever since.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Are the two mutually exclusive? Don’t most people who like a sport wish they could have played that sport at the highest level? It’s not clear from your comment when he supposedly made that comment, but it might have been in high school. Even if it was a bit of BS, why is that the ultimate sin? We all embellish things at time for effect.

      • Hamster Huey says:

        I’m not saying it is the ultimate sin, that’s why I say, it may well be unfair on my part that this caused such a lasting imprint in my mind. But if you watch his throwing motion, it is not that of even a former mediocre high school baseball player; it’s completely forced and awkward. It’s fine to enjoy a sport, or to own a team, without being good at that sport – that happens all the time. I just didn’t like how he told his story in a way that made it seem like he was better than he was – seemed phony and calculated given the context (he had just been named Commish). Anyway, I posted here to see how others react bc I’m aware mine is not the only possible reaction to that…

  23. TA says:

    Sad Bud is in, but look at it this way. Now that he’s in, this will be the entry for all of the pro-PED statheads to campaign for the PED abusers to be admitted, since Selig turned a blind eye to their cheating for most of the time. And with the open ballot, you can lobby and browbeat anyone who disagrees, making the BBWAA a hostage to your whims for not supporting the induction of lab experiments. All thanks to Bud. Congratulations, baseball. Yet another reason to stop watching or caring that the sport is dying off.

  24. Michael Green says:

    On Selig and steroids … I grew up in Las Vegas, live there, and teach and write about its history. Federal and state law enforcement officials drove out the mob in part by finally tying the bosses, who had been immune, to what they were having the people down below do. If, say, Tony Accardo, the Chicago boss, ordered something, the person who executed the order and therefore committed the crime was so far removed from Accardo, he couldn’t be touched–until new federal laws made it possible to go after the likes of Accardo, as well.

    The people who used the steroids get the blame and can’t get into the Hall of Fame, but the overall boss who did nothing to stop their use gets in? The Supreme Court once said baseball isn’t a business. Apparently, though, it IS organized crime.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      That’s a ridiculous analogy. MLB never ordered players to take steroids; what I think happened is that players started taking them and MLB noticed that, hey, they are hitting a lot more home runs. Let’s not worry about how they are doing it. That’s a little different than a crime boss saying to his underling, “put a hit on so-and so; and, by the way, if you don’t do it, you’re dead.” If Barry Bonds or Clemens or someone had said, hey, I’m not using, there’s not a damn thing Bud Selig could or would have done to make them.

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