Major League Baseball has a new Commissioner Elect, Rob Manfred. For those who were fans of Alan H. "Bud" Selig, this is a great thing for the office. For those who hate on the present man at the top, Manfred's election is a sure sentence to endure more of the same. I'm in the former camp, feeling that Bud Selig has far more positive chips on the table than negative. He leaves the game a better arena in which to play than when he arrived, and that, above all else, is the mark of a great leader. We'll hear plenty of arguments on both sides of that debate in the coming days, but it's not that on which I want to focus. Rather, I'd like to defend the Commissioner on what critics enter into evidence as the smoking gun against his competency - steroids.
Stop pinning steroids on Alan H. "Bud"Selig.
Let me start here: we have learned a lot about steroids under Bud's reign, not the least of which is the fact that baseball and steroids have walked hand-in-hand far longer than Bud was in a position to do something about it...heck, steroids ware in the game long before Bud was an owner , for crying out loud.
Did Selig know about the growing influence of the most famous of all PEDs? Most certainly. But everyone did...we, the fans, included. I mean, c'mon, let's not all pretend like we had no clue what was happening in every clubhouse in the game as we snatched up tix, ate up hotdogs, pounded brews, and yanked jerseys of our favorite comic book freaks off the shelves. We are more responsible than anyone for the proliferation of PEDs. Why? Because we LOVED the game and supported it to historic levels.
And then there's the "far more complicated than wed like to acknowledge" relationship between the Commissioner and the MLBPA. Could Bud have done more? Short of simply cancelling the season, the truth isno. Selig's efforts (and those of Commissioners before) died at the negotiating table. It took an appeal to Congress to get something done - an appeal he made, by the way. I'm apparently the only one who actually read the whole Mitchell Report in which Selig was mentioned, yes, ALONGSIDE COUNTLESS OTHERS (both named and lumped into massive groupings) who played a role. If the "it happened on his watch" argument is going to be made, one must also credit him for the most comprehensive drug testing policy in all of pro sports that was advanced "on his watch."
His motivations aside - though I believe them to be more pure than many - Bud got it done. No Commissioner before had the testicular fortitude to call himself out in front of the U.S. Government.