Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Selig getting job done

A lot has happened in sports, both locally and nationally,
since we rang in the new year.?

In Madison, the Badger football team lost their bowl game,
while the men?s basketball team started the Big Ten season 6-0 before losing at
Purdue over the weekend.

Nationally, we?ve seen the Roger Clemens saga and the heads
of baseball brought before Congress for the second time in three years.


In the NFL the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl with their
undefeated record, and we had to hear all last week ? and probably the rest of
this week as well ? about Tom Brady?s ankle, or as ESPN called it, ?Bootgate.?

However, with all that has gone on in sports over the last
month, one thing has largely flown under the radar. Shortly after Bud Selig
appeared with former Sen. George Mitchell and Players Association head Donald
Fehr in front of Congress, the baseball owners voted to extend Selig?s contract
through 2012.

While it may not have received as much attention as other
events, extending Selig?s contract is a good thing for baseball, even though
many probably disagree with that statement. Yes, Selig has made some bad moves
over his 16-year run, but he has made many more good ones.

Of course, his tenure didn?t get off to the best start when
the players went on strike in 1994, forcing him to cancel the World Series for
the first time since 1904. Baseball took a huge hit from that strike, but since
then Selig has guided the sport to its longest period of peace in its history.
He also led baseball through the first peaceful negotiations in 2002, avoiding
a work stoppage for the first time since 1970 when the collective bargaining
agreement was signed only a few hours before the deadline.

Selig also held on to the Milwaukee Brewers too long. He
should have sold the team the minute he became the permanent commissioner in
1998. While his daughter was running the team, the fact that he still had ownership
stake in the team was a conflict of interest. Also, I don?t think it is any
coincidence that the Brewers? last winning season before this past season was
in 1992, the year Selig became the acting commissioner.

Nevertheless, Selig has also done a lot of good for
baseball. Selig has increased revenue by almost 400 percent, seen the
attendance record broken year after year and introduced interleague play. He
also implemented revenue sharing, which is the closest thing baseball probably
will ever see to a salary cap.

However, the greatest thing the Selig has done for baseball is
creating three divisions in each league and introducing the wild card in
1994.? While some say the wild card
reduces the importance of winning the division and the excitement of the
pennant races, I think it only makes September more exciting. Now there are
eight races to follow instead of four, and if a team starts to run away with a
division, good teams can still be excited about the possibility of going to the
playoffs with the wild card.

No matter what Selig has done for the sport though, he will
most likely always be remembered for being the top dog during the steroid era.
Now I?m not going to say Selig shouldn?t take any of the blame for the steroid
era, but he shouldn?t take all, or even most of it. In front of Congress, he
did the right thing by personally accepting responsibility for the steroid era,
but Fehr and the Players Association need to also accept some of the blame.

In trying to get steroid testing implemented, Selig was
going up against the strongest union, not just in sports, but in the whole
country. He had tried to get testing in baseball earlier, but the union and
Fehr would not budge until Congress basically forced them to. And since that
time, Selig was also able to reopen the CBA in the middle of a contract to
toughen the testing and penalties. He is starting to take baseball out of the
steroid era and deserves the chance to see this process through.

If nothing else good comes from Selig?s extension, at least
it will prevent President Bush from going from the White House to the
commissioner?s office, which he before showed interest in as his post-presidency


Greg Schmitz is a senior majoring in communication arts. If
you don?t think Selig deserved the extension, let him know at
[email protected].

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