Bud Selig is in his final days as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. After this weekend, Rob Manfred will take the helm and Selig will live off a cozy pension for the rest of his days. Nice work, if you can get it.
Selig became Commissioner in September of 1992. Well, if you want to get nitpicky, he became the "Acting Commissioner", which he held until 1998 when he became full time. Selig leaves behind a long legacy of changes to the game (which we'll go over in a second.), but what are his contributions to the Diamondbacks?
The easy one, is that the Diamondbacks were awarded a franchise during his tenure on March 9th, 1995. The D-backs, along with the then Devil Rays, brought the total number of Major League franchises to 30, which is the number today.
The only other vaguely Diamondbacks specific Selig memory I could think of/look up was the 2002 All Star Game, which featured many Diamondbacks thanks to the presence of Bob Brenly as manager. This, of course, was the game that ended in a tie due to lack of players left to use from both Managers and led to the ASG deciding home field in the World Series.
And, of course, there was the time he moved the Diamondbacks to the American League because he was bored.
Overall, the D-backs seemed to have stayed out of the ire of the Commissioner's Office. There hasn't been any MASN controversy or anything of the sort in the time the Diamondbacks have existed. If Selig was never commissioner, would the Diamondbacks be vastly different or even nonexistent? It's hard to say. Phoenix would have always seemed like a viable expansion market in the 90s with a large contingent of teams doing Spring Training in Arizona. Perhaps the timetables would have been different, or there would have been a different ownership group. It's hard to say, but you can come up with your own The Man in the High Castle alternate universes.
Selig's overall legacy has a lot of parts to sift through. Some of the major events that happened during his tenure
- The 1994 Player's Strike, which canceled the World Series that year and cut into the 1995 season. However, there has been an unprecedented era of labor peace since.
- The Rockies, Marlins, Diamondbacks, and Rays came into being during his tenure
- Expansion of the playoffs from two teams in each league to four with the advent of the Wild Card. Divisions expanded from two in each league to three in 1994.
- The introduction of Interleague Play in 1997.
- The Milwaukee Brewers, the team he was previously the owner of, moved from the American League to the National League in the 1998 expansion.
- As mentioned above, The All-Star game became the decider for home field advantage in the World Series in 2003
- Oversaw the Steroid era, when the story initially broke, and the fallout. Was Commissioner when new drug testing policies were implemented.
- Oversaw the move of the Expos from Montreal to Washington D.C., where they became the present-day Nationals. (Sidebar on this subject: I just started reading Jonah Keri's Up, Up, & Away, a history of the Expos. It's a good read so far.)
- Dramatically changed the structure of the draft and international signings with the last Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2012.
- Implemented an extra Wild Card in 2012, adding in a play-in game before the Divisional Round.
- Saw the Houston Astros move from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013. This put 15 teams in each league and made Interleague Play ubiquitous throughout the Major League season
- Replay was introduced in 2013. Initially for Home Run calls, was expanded in 2014 for more situations.
Those are the major points, there are probably more things to discuss, but when one's been Commissioner long enough to be old enough to drink, there's a lot to parse.
And, of course, there's the matter of what his successor, Rob Manfred, should do when in power. On my personal list is doing something about the Byzantine blackout policy (Hey, I live in Las Vegas/Iowa/Hawaii, what's Baseball?) I also think that the changes to the draft and international signings should be reexamined, since it only serves to curtail the free-spending ways of affluent teams like the Rays. What do you think should be the priorities for the next commissioner?
What do you, the readers at home, think? Let us know in the comments!