There’s no love loss between me and Bud Selig, our fearless leading Commissioner of Major League Baseball. See, I’m a total Bart Giamatti girl. Anyone who a) loved literature and baseball and b) hated the Yankees as much as he did qualifies him to be a God among men status by yours truly. Of course, being that he’s no longer with us, I have no choice in who can be Commissioner. But that’s neither here nor there.
I’m kind of been nonplussed by Allan Huber Selig. His decision making or lack thereof has been a little inconsistent and wonky, to say the least. Take for instance, turning a blind eye to the drug policy and steroid era, clearly when baseball was making headlines and attendance was at an all-time high, especially those who closely followed the home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in the summer of 1998. Of course, Jose Canseco blew the lid off that, saying our heroes were all juicing, and everyone knew about it. I wasn’t a big fan of what Canseco did in outing everyone, since I am a firm believer of what goes on in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. On the other hand, it did not endear many to Buddy Boy himself, as he didn’t make a call on it effectively saying that it was okay.
You’d think I cared a lot about performance enhancement drugs, but I really didn’t. My philosophy was always that if it caused a level playing field, they could have all taken steroids as far as I was concerned. What I didn’t like though is the sport has been tainted with it. Now, I can at least say, until the next new undetected drug comes out for performance reasons, it’s merit-based in baseball. Of course, then Selig will turn a blind eye to that as well.
Moving right along, I also didn’t care for the fact that he still has close ties to the team that was owned by his family even after his appointment to the Commissioner-ship, the Milwaukee Brewers. I found that there was too much of a conflict of interest, especially when there was talk of contraction a few years ago. Man, I’ll never forget how Jesse “The Governor” Venture took Selig to task when faced with the contraction of the Minnesota Twins, the team representing the state he was governing. The Brewers weren’t exactly drawing much, yet they weren’t being called to task. Selig shut right up, of course.
I guess my point is, as much as he’s credited for doing good with the sport — instituting the Wild Card, revenue sharing — his questionable marks leave a bad taste in my mouth — the whole Brewers nepotism, steroids on his watch. He hasn’t exactly endeared himself to fans either.
Of course, now I wonder where his interests lie with the Mets. Yes, I say the Mets because word has recently come out that MLB granted the Mets a $25 million loan in November. Both sides are confident that the Mets will pay it back within another few months but have nothing to discuss as it was a “short-term liquidity issue.” Now, the idea of them getting a loan in and of itself doesn’t concern me: the fact is, I doubt banks are lining up to extend lines of credit due to their involvement in a potentially $1 billion lawsuit.
For a group of investors (Sterling) that I have been trying to be objective on and provide an unbiased opinion, I have to say that I don’t like the sounds of this loan and the means they’ve received it. On one hand, they have not reduced payroll; they hired a Dream Team of Executive Officers who seem to have a plan going forward and they also don’t work for free. So why is that the Mets are MLB’s version of AIG and Goldman Sachs, essentially “Too Big To Fail?”
I especially like how all of a sudden, Selig is acting in his own best interests. It makes sense. Although admittedly the Mets are the red-headed stepchild of baseball in this town, a team to bell flop in a major market like New York or Los Angeles would amount to suicide in MLB’s eyes. It’s one to let the Montreal Expos defect to D.C. after it had bankrupted itself: no one cares about baseball in French Canada where the National Pastime is hockey. It’s another thing to let Texas homeboy Nolan Ryan acquire the Texas Rangers with an investment group to push out a potential buyer in Mark Cuban, whom I’m sure MLB doesn’t want to deal with in the owner’s circles.
No, the Mets are too big to fail. I guess we can be thankful for that, as I don’t believe they will actively reduce payroll should the Wilpons go bankrupt at some point. That is, until all the money comes off the books that has been hampering their mobility for quite some time — Beltran, Perez, Castillo, to name a few and Reyes to a lesser extent — I think we can actually believe Sandy Alderson when he says they won’t look to fill those payroll holes right away. I can’t say that I blame him, though. Viewed in a vacuum, the Mets have been spending like drunken sailors for way too long, and that crash and burn formula has never worked without a solid foundation.
However, this idea that Bud Selig is allowing this to continue causes concern for me.
One is, while I respect Fred Wilpon since he has shown to be a decent guy who has made a few bad decisions regarding this team and his investing partners but also proves to be a charitable man, he has no business running a baseball franchise. Yet, Wilpon is part of an elite club: the Owners club who lights his cigars in the smoking room with $100 bills (maybe not so anymore since he’s being sued for most of those C-notes). And as long as Selig is around, he’ll keep rewarding this bad behavior since he’s all BFF with Wilpon and “Uncle” Saul Katz.
Two is, Bud Selig exemplifies the whole “To the victor belongs the spoils” adage. He’s going to do what he wants, but he also is very cherry-picky about how he handles his business. If you’re a Bud buddy, consider yourself safe and abiding by a different set of rules. I’m sure fans in L.A. can sympathize as they are going through the messy divorce of their owner who is too stubborn to do what’s best for the team and the fans, and Selig is validating that behavior.
He’s doing the same damn thing for the Mets.
Look, I don’t want the Mets to fail, but I think it’s high time to realize that not only that Sterling has some serious issues here, that they are not going to be able to get anything objectively done until the team is sold. Bud Selig could force their hand, but he won’t. All he’s doing is rewarding bad behavior.
I hope they enjoy smoking those cigars in the Boys’ Club.