For Bud Selig, there is a light at the end of the tunnel
By JON ALBA
College Contributor Network
Sunday will hold a polarizing place in Major League Baseball history. For those of the modern era, they will remember it as the day the New York Yankees sent the captain, "Mr. November," No. 2, into the realm of immortality. The day the man who represented the game right for nearly 20 years absorbed the culmination of adoration and admiration from all throughout baseball, certifying his status as "the face" of the sport.
But he does not stand alone in holding this day significant to his career. Because another man on his way out of baseball saw his tenure as figurehead start this very day 22 years ago.
MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent faced heavy criticism from the league's owners in 1992 for the growing salaries of ballplayers and failed promises of profits for their individual entities. With that, an 18-9 vote of no confidence forced him to resign, leading one Allan Huber "Bud" Selig to take command as acting commissioner.
Selig served in this role until his actual tenure as the ninth Commissioner of Major League Baseball began on July 9, 1998, but his legacy, for better or for worse, began long before that. Many will note the introduction of revenue sharing and the World Baseball Classic as innovations of the departing commissioner. But before Robert Manfred takes over as the new man in charge, it is imperative to look at what Selig can do before he says farewell.
Own up to the Steroid Era
"I don't want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to this or he didn't care about it," Selig said to Newsday in 2009.
"That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I'm sensitive to the criticism."
Perhaps the greatest taint of all for Selig is the Steroid Era, a period of time which portrays the most obvious case of irony perhaps ever seen in sports. As the players used performance-enhancers to improve their offensive output, Selig's sport was the beneficiary of the drugs as displayed by revenue growths of nearly 300 percent.
Whether one believes Selig turned a blind eye to the drugs or was merely unaware, it is hard to argue against the fact his game thrived when the illegal substances fueled it.
Before his tenure is over, an admission of fault, whether conscious of it or not, would be honorable on his behalf. While it would never make up for what happened to the game's legacy, acceptance of a certain degree of responsibility would certain help his own.
Pardon Pete Rose
The fans are ready. The Hall of Fame is ready. Pete Rose is ready. The only one who appears not to be is Mr. Selig himself.
Reality speaks a hard truth sometimes, and in this case, it may be one for the commissioner. Is Pete Rose guilty of gambling on baseball and lying about it for nearly two decades? Certainly. But a large degree of forgiveness has been given by the people, and in the grand scheme of other events in Selig's tenure (see the aforementioned Steroid Era), reconciliation with Rose would dwarf in comparison.
The first step was taken just more than a year into his commissionership when he allowed Rose to be a part of the All-Century Team at the 1999 MLB All-Star Game and appear before the fans. Now, their arms are wide open for a return to where he belongs: Baseball immortality.
"I'm going to do what I think is right. I have five months to think about it. So it is under advisement," Selig recently said regarding the manner.
Now it is just a matter of what exactly is right.
Help Manfred build a new generation
Selig and company took a major stride in appealing to a new generation, one that demands efficiency through technology, with the acceptance of full-scale instant replay for the 2014 season. While the system has certainly not been without controversy, it's at least a first step in the right direction towards modernizing the game.
The average age of a Major League Baseball fan is just below 55, a significant blow to a sport that claims to have its roots in American history. Manfred has his work cut out for him, but the 80-year-old Selig must use his final months to create a new infrastructure for the sport that will allow for more universal appeal.
And this is, perhaps, where Jeter and Selig tie together. Both men will leave, but will a new generation join the Major League bandwagon?
Commissioner Manfred, the stitched-ball is in your glove.
Jon Alba is a senior at Quinnipiac University. There he serves as general manager of the school's television station, Q30 Television. Follow him on Twitter: @JonAlbaSFC