A lot has happened since 1992; we arrested the Unabomber, survived Y2K, mourned during 9/11, elected the first African-American president, and witnessed as “Bud” Selig changed the landscape of Major League Baseball. His reign as Commissioner has had highs and lows. He declared the 2002 All-Star game a 7-7 tie, began the World Baseball Classic, and
allowed fought against steroids. However, there is one criticism and one accomplishment that stands out in my mind as I reflect on how I will remember Commissioner Selig.
The major criticism begans in 1994 when the Player’s Union went on strike, ending the season that resulted in cancellation of the World Series. Although it has been over 20 years since the strike started, Padres fans will forever hold it over Selig’s head. That was the season Tony Gwynn was on pace to be the first hitter since Ted Williams to hit .400 in a season. 1994 was supposed to be the best season for Padres fans since they made it to their first World Series in 1984, but NO. Gwynn would never have that chance; his season would end on Aug. 11 against the Astros after going 3-for-5 and raising his season average to .394. While we will never know for sure, I believed in Tony, and he believed in himself. Gwynn would be later quoted by the San Diego Magazine as staying, “To this day, I really believe I’d hit .400.” As a lifelong Padres fan this will always be a blemish on Selig’s tenure as the Major League Commissioner.
The major accomplishment is the institution of the wild card and divisional playoffs. Although I am typically on the purist side of the fence e.g. I don’t support the designated hitter, I am an advocate of the expansion of the playoffs. I like that there is another round of playoffs—you can never have too much baseball—although the pennant race was slightly diminished until the advent of the second Wild Card in 2012. I think that a 103-win team should not spend the playoffs watching from their own living rooms.
If it wasn’t for the Wild Card, J.T. Snow doesn’t save Dusty Baker’s son at home plate. If it wasn’t for the Wild Card, the 2004 Boston Red Sox would have never broken the curse. If it wasn’t for the Wild Card, I wouldn’t still be waiting for Matt Holliday to touch home plate.
This past week, the owners elected Rob Manfred the next MLB commissioner, thus officially marking the beginning of the end for Commissioner Selig. Although his reign started out rocky—barring anything major—I think he will leave baseball better than he found it. Because of Bud, we get to see the subway, freeway, and beltway series every season. Because of Bud, baseball has begun using instant replay. Because of Bud, I can watch every out of market Padres game on MLB.TV.
Keep the Faith.