Bud Selig became Commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1992. This year, 2014, is his last in that position and as a result the Padres took it upon themselves to honor him by renaming the Palm Court Plaza at Petco Park the Bug Selig Hall of Fame Plaza. Let's take a look at what things he did (or didn't do) that could be tied to San Diego.
The Firesale He Could Have Prevented
Bud Selig was obviously not the initiator of the Padres' firesale that occurred from 1992 to 1993, but he does bear some of the responsibility. Here's a bit of an LA Times article from 1993 that outlines that:
A strong and independent commissioner might see it differently, but Bud Selig, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and chairman of the executive council, sees no reason to exercise baseball's "best interest" powers and end the systematic devastation of the San Diego Padres by owner Tom Werner and colleagues.
Baseball has no problem, Selig said, with Werner trading Gary Sheffield for three basically unproven pitchers, or with the departures of Craig Lefferts, Randy Myers, Tony Fernandez, Benito Santiago and Darrin Jackson from a team that was only 4 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West on Aug. 1 of last year.
"This is a dramatic manifestation of the big-market, small-market problem," Selig said, spouting the company line. "I understand the fans' frustration, but Tom is trying to preserve the viability of his franchise and prevent an economic tragedy.
"I've seen it compared to Charlie Finley (whose attempt to sell Joe Rudi, Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers as owner of the Oakland A's was blocked by then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn), but that was a liquidation.
"Here you have a club making trades, and while some of them seem one-sided, I understand what Tom is doing and I understand he has to do it to maintain the viability of the franchise."
Under guise of the club making one-sided trades instead of the sales that Charlie Finley was prevented from making, Selig stood idly by while one of his owners purposefully turned a quality baseball team into a complete non-contender.
A Strike That Denied Padres History
Selig was of course still the commissioner when the owners made demands that encouraged a player's strike. A strike that ended the season prematurely and resulted in Selig cancelling the World Series that year. That alone was bad enough, but it also ended a chance for Padres legend Tony Gwynn to pursue a .400 batting average. That 1994 will forever see Gwynn's dominating statistic frozen at .394.
The Botched Selling Of The Padres
In February 2008, Padres owner John Moores started divorce proceedings with his wife. The splitting up of assets and the general wear and tear of the whole ordeal made Moores' continued ownership of the franchise a burden and as a result payroll's plummeted and a for sale sign was put up. The ownership group that Selig and his cronies approved to buy the Padres was led by minority Diamondbacks owner and former player agent Jeff Moorad. The deal they approved allowed Moorad's group to buy the team on layaway. They would pay in installments, presumable because they did not have the cash to buy it initially, and eventually get majority ownership. In the meantime Moorad was allowed to become CEO and run the team. The cash poor ownership group then proceeded to run the team like a team without cash would do. The payrolls were kept ridiculously low. When it came time to approve Moorad and his group for majority ownership, Selig and his cronies denied them. Thus blowing up the sale that had already put the team through much hardship. Moorad's ownership group had also spent time working out a big pay day for the owners. He had gotten Fox Sports to buy the local broadcast rights to the team and fork over $200M cash upfront. Since the sale blew up and that money was already in majority owner John Moores' hands by the time a new sale was approved that cash left with him. Once again the Padres get hosed because of Selig's incompetence.
The previous 3 sections highlighted things where Selig's actions directly impacted the Padres. But, his inactions are also to be noted.
- No All Star Game for Petco Park - the S.O.P. for MLB over the couple decades has been that if a team builds a new stadium, then they are rewarded with an All Star Game. Selig only finally hinted that one could be coming the Padres' way after a decade of neglect.
- Didn't stump for Petco Park - Ultimately the Padres were able to get a new ballpark in San Diego, but with very little help from the commissioner.
- Creating revenue sharing that didn't help or encourage the Padres ownership to spend enough to stay out of the bottom ranks in player payroll - Many will tout Selig's work with revenue sharing, but in San Diego it woulds seem that the money that came to the Padres through this system never found its way to the payroll
- No international TV rights - San Diego is a border town. It makes sense that fandom could cross international boundaries. But MLB has never allowed the Padres to take advantage of that proximity.
- Did not attend Jerry Coleman or Tony Gwynn's Memorials - He sent representatives in his place for both tributes. Selig is an old man and originally I had thought that his absence was due to travel difficulties. But then he makes an appearance in San Diego to get his tochus kissed by Padres brass.
After all that history between the club and commissioner, who could blame the Padres for wanting to honor the man by making a permanent name change to part of the ballpark. Oh, everyone. Right. Questions about this need to be answered. And maybe something should be done about this embarrassment.