Bud Selig, 79, is set to retire from his position as Commissioner of Major League Baseball following the conclusion of the 2014 MLB season. It is important to note that Selig has made such promises before. In 2006, Selig promised he would retire after the 2009 season but then signed on for 3 more years. Then in 2012 Selig said he would retire at the end of the season, only to sign on through 2014. If Selig is truly retiring this time, the focus immediately turns to his legacy.
Selig has had some great victories during his tenure as Commissioner. In 2012, Selig expanded the playoffs to include 10 teams. This has created the tremendously exciting do-or-die Wild Card match-ups that open up postseason play. The Wild Card games drew 4.6 million viewers last year, which exceeded viewership for the entire 2011 Division Series. Bud Selig was also responsible for implementing Interleague Play in 1997.
For all the controversy surrounding Interleague Play when it was first created, it has been one of Selig’s greatest successes. Interleague games have generally drawn more fans to the park than normal regular season games, have created regional rivalries such as Dodgers-Angels, and have allowed fans of AL or NL teams see stars from the other league that they previously wouldn’t encounter under the old schedule. However, there is one major cloud hanging over Selig’s tenure as MLB Commissioner, the “Steroid Era.”
Perhaps the most destructive force to Major League Baseball’s popularity in recent memory has been the discovery of rampant and long-term use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs by MLB players, including many high-profile stars. Although in 2005 Selig introduced a stricter PED testing regime, many have blamed Selig for dragging his feet on the issue when it was discovered in the 90s. In fact, many have seen the vigorously executed Biogenesis investigation as an attempt by Selig to curb the narrative of his tenure as the “Steroid Commissioner.”
Though Selig has undoubtedly accomplished much during his time as commissioner of Major League Baseball, his legacy remains decidedly cloudy. Regardless of what he is known for, Selig was the Commissioner over one of the most important times in MLB history. Bud Selig’s legacy will ultimately rest on the perceived success or failure of his actions in ending the use of steroids and PEDs in professional baseball.