If it happens to Bud Selig, it’s news. Just ask Selig, who turned his 75th birthday into an opportunity to “address the fans” and allow callers to celebrate Selig. Celebrating Bud, it’s the national pastime of the national pastime, and Bud has lots to boast about. This year, Selig recently beat back cancer, and while we wish him well, it’s also hoped that the every-three-months check-ups he receives will be available to everyone soon. So, while you may not have a job, healthcare, and fear of a black planet may have driven you to question whether your President is an American citizen, if he hates white people, or men actually walked on the moon, at least Selig is there for you to take some comfort in his success “ even when attendance is actually down. Here, Selig reminds us how much money baseball is making, a predicted $6.5 billion this year “ altho not how that might come back to fans whose towns pay tax breaks for new stadiums or endure high ticket prices. As for baseball’s drug policies, well, blame the unions entirely, of course.
“One of my proudest accomplishments has been watching this game grow to the heights that no one ever dreamed possible,” he said. “Attendance this season is down 5 percent, but if you take into account the reduced capacities of the two new ballparks in New York, it’s actually down only 3.8, 3.9 percent, which is amazing given the economy. I’ve had more people in the business world say to me, ‘You ought to announce that. What a dramatic story that is.’ You’re talking about other businesses that are off 30 percent to 40 percent. This may be our greatest year ever given the environment.”
As for the drug policy, Selig said: “We went through the cocaine era in 1980s, which was terribly significant. There were the Pittsburgh drug trials. Four people went to jail. They couldn’t get the Players Association to agree to a testing program. And [former union executive director] Marvin Miller says to this day that if he were still in charge, we wouldn’t have one. I’m proud of where we are. We’ve accomplished far more than anyone before me had ever done or anybody had any right to expect. This sport is being cleaned up. I understand the chemists are working hard on a test for human growth hormone. Believe me, once there is one, it will be there. We’ll put it in.”
Selig’s official MLB tenure began in 1970 when he headed an ownership group that bought the failing Pilots and moved the team from Seattle to his home town of Milwaukee just days before that season. He was named interim Commissioner in September 1992 and was elected by the owners permanently six years later.
Selig was slated to retire at the end of this season until the owners extended his contract last year through Dec. 31, 2012. As such he will outlast the heads of labor, the duo that made the MLB Players Association perhaps the toughest union in all of sports.
“That’s very interesting when you think about that,” Selig said.