Rob Manfred officially became the Commissioner of Major League Baseball on Saturday. Alan H. “Bud” Selig will now spend his retirement as a part-time history professor and a full-time advocate for his legacy. After being at the forefront of illegal collusion with other owners, he led the 1992 palace coup which removed the real Commissioner, Fay Vincent. The game was now out of the hands of the impartial.
Yet Selig certainly made his mark: wild cards, interleague play, etc. Changing the All-Star Game to decide home field advantage for the World Series is an idea I like, only because the old method was way more ridiculous. Odd years, AL and even years, NL. This meant that the A’s had to open at Dodger Stadium despite being the best team in baseball in 1988. He also presided over a cancelled World Series and the Steroid Era. But he will remind you that he leaves the game in an unprecedented state of popularity and profit. This column isn’t meant to judge Selig time’s as the head of MLB – you can get that anywhere. I’m here to say that he was clearly no fan of Oakland, something I mentioned to him personally last summer.
When Selig was “doing the rounds” last season, he made a somewhat surprising stop in Oakland. I figured he would find a way to skip the 510, honestly. But with his friendship with A’s ownership partner Lew Wolff stretching back to their collegiate days in Madison, Wisconsin, he indeed held a press conference before a game at the Coliseum in August. Most reporters present asked about territorial rights and the inactivity of the farcical Blue Ribbon Committee. But I wanted to hear what he thought about my hometown team. I was a bit reticent because I’m not the type of media member who gets off on asking incendiary questions or by backing someone into a corner. However, I will admit that I have always been offended by Selig’s disgust with Oakland. I asked him, whilst being glared at by Wolff for my petulance, about his perception that he wasn’t a big fan of the A’s.
I mentioned a 2001 interview where he said the A’s move to the bay area was “a horrible mistake” and the rumors of the A’s, Twins and Expos being his personal candidates for contraction in 2002.
I didn’t bring up his 2013 radio interview with John Feinstein in which he called the Coliseum “a pit.” Bud was slightly taken aback, but he used his charm and yarn-spinning to deflect such an inquiry. He began to answer my question by speaking about how much he loves Bobby Melvin (who?) and then after a long skip down a merry path, he told me my notion was “absurd.”
We have no idea what a new Commissioner means for the A’s. I think the general assumption is he will continue to carry on what his mentor put in place. I just think it’s rather humorous that a personal friendship with the Commissioner meant zero favors for A’s ownership in the end. And yes, Selig had some innovative ideas and has made a lot of money for a lot of people. Just don’t expect to see him sitting in Fenton’s anytime soon.