Friday, May 20, 2011

Can Labor Peace Save Selig's Legacy?

*Re-post from May 11, 2011 which was removed due to Blogger maintenance problems.

Bud Selig has been MLB's commissioner since 1992.  He's had his share of successes and failures through the years.  Unfortunately for him, he will forever be haunted by baseball's period of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).  While he consistently points out that baseball's PED program is now the best in professional sports, most critics assert that it came too late and after turning a blind eye while trying to recuperate baseball in the aftermath of labor strife in 1994.

I believe Selig has failed in other areas besides his delayed reaction to PEDs.  Having a relationship between the winner of the All-Star game (an exhibition game) and home-field advantage in the World Series is ridiculous.  His refusal to incorporate video replay at the same pace as other sports was ignorant.

Selig has provided positive developments for the game including the growth of revenues for teams and the league, expanded playoffs, and the World Baseball Classic.  None of these can overshadow the issue of PEDs alone.

Selig's is now trying to deal with serious financial issues with two of its marquee franchises. The New York Mets' owners could owe hundreds of millions of dollars due to their ties with Bernie Madoff and the Los Angeles Dodgers have recently been taken over by the league because of their financial dilemmas.  I'm fairly certain neither of these issues will be resolved by the time Selig retires at the end of the 2012 season.

All this not withstanding, Bud Selig can go out on top. He recently announced the 2012 season could add two more wild card teams to the post-season structure.  This move has worked in the past.  Most importantly for his legacy, he has labor peace and at the moment it seems that MLB and the MLB Players Association are going to extend the collective bargaining agreement without any major hangups.  If December's deadline turns into a new agreement, MLB's streak of labor peace will surpass 20 years.

Is that enough to overcome one of the darkest periods in the sport?  I'd say not entirely, but it certainly allows Selig to go out on top.  Too bad it will be short lived.  Until there are no Hall of Fame eligible players linked to PEDs who played under his realm, he will be seen as the enabler of this issue and not the man who resolved the abuse as he would claim.