It makes me sick.
A couple of days ago , the San Diego Padres ownership group made a dreadful decision. The section of Petco Park now known as the Palm Court Plaza, you know, the area with all the personalized bricks, will be renamed, and will house a future attraction featuring the Padres Hall of Fame. What a perfect opportunity to honor the greatest Padre of all time. So it will be called the Tony Gwynn Hall of Fame Plaza, right?
Nope. Guess again. In fact, I’ll give you 100 guesses.
It will be the Selig Hall of Fame Plaza, named after that greatest of Padres heroes, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.
Bud freaking Selig? You’re joking, right?
It’s no joke. The man who presided over the 1994-1995 players strike, the man who ignored PED use in baseball for well over a decade because revenues were up, the man who allowed the tie game in the All-Star Game, and subsequently decided that the annual exhibition game would determine home field advantage in the World Series, the man that I’ve never heard mention the Padres or vice versa, is going to be honored by the San Diego baseball club, in an extremely high profile section of Petco Park.
In his 22 years as commissioner, Selig has had one main focus. Represent the owners’ interests by maximizing team profits. And he has done that well. Baseball has come back extremely strong in the 20 years since the strike. TV and advertising money has given the sport such astonishingly large profits that the owners are gladly paying individual players hundreds of millions of dollars. The minimum MLB salary is a half million dollars a year. That’s what Jace Peterson is making every time he flies from El Paso to San Diego – $3,086 per game.
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Of course, the focus on bringing in revenue has left some fans unable to attend games. It now costs a family of four an average of $212.46 to go to a game. But that has never been Selig’s concern. When your focus is the bottom line, it’s easy to forget about Joe Six-pack. Especially when those cheaper seats can be converted into luxury boxes.
And the Padres ownership, led by Executive Chairman Ron Fowler, falls right in line with the other owners who have lauded Selig’s efforts over the years. It’s a corollary of the American Dream. Fill someone’s pockets, and you’ll have their support. And occasionally, you’ll get stuff named after you.
But really, why is Selig being honored like this? It seems so out of the blue. What connection does Selig have to the Padres? Bill Center at Friarwire offers some insight, offering that:
"“Selig has played a role in several Padres milestones during his reign as Commissioner of Baseball.He helped sustain Major League Baseball’s support of Petco Park’s construction when the ballpark project was slowed by legal challenges in the early 2000s.”"
Center quotes Fowler as saying “Selig helped (lead investor) Peter Seidler and myself as we put together our ownership group. He helped keep baseball here.”
Selig helped keep baseball here? He helped these particular investors, that’s for sure. Yeah, I suppose there was some potential that if this deal had fallen through, that the team could have moved to another city. But it seems a whole lot more like Selig was more interested in putting the team in the hands of like-minded, deep-pocketed owners, after initially supporting Jeff Moorad, then selling him out because Selig and other owners felt the Moorad group’s net worth wasn’t quite stratospheric enough to play with the big boys.
What did Selig have to say about the honor? Well, he did say that he liked San Diego’s chances of hosting an All-Star Game. Ah. Another windfall for the owners.
And so, since Bug Selig went out of his way in the past, and is still in a position to continue helping turn these billionaires into multi-multi-billionaires, they’d like to say thank you. Let’s not worry about Tony Gwynn or Jerry Coleman. They’re not in a position to help the team make money any more. Instead, let’s pay tribute to the greatest revenue-creating commissioner in baseball.
Isn’t that why kids play the game in the first place?