The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame elected former Commissioner Bud Selig into their ranks on Sunday night. The decision on Selig, along with former General Manager John Schuerholz, came in via the Today’s Game Era ballot.
Selig’s admission to Cooperstown should not surprise anyone, nor should it cause the least bit of controversy. That is, unless players like Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and others don’t get to follow him in.
Why? Simply put, Bud Selig’s tenure as commissioner is inextricably linked to the steroid era. If not for the homerun race of 1998, which resurrected the sport four years after the disastrous strike of 1994, Bud Selig’s legacy would read as the man who presided over the most damaging thing to happen to baseball since the “Black Sox” scandal of 1919. Additionally, he concocted the worst rule in sports history when he made the All-Star Game count for home field advantage in the World Series.
Other Selig acts such as the Wild-Card and regular interleague play turned out well, and the steroid-enhanced McGwire-Sosa homerun race, and the offensive explosion that accompanied it, saved baseball and saved Bud Selig. Moreover, Selig knew it, which explains why he never took any substantive action against steroids until compelled too.
Bud Selig will always maintain that the players made the mistakes, and so the players should be held accountable for the steroids and PED’s. Of course, personal responsibility always makes up a huge component of any pattern of addiction. However, so does awareness and accountability. Think back to the Mitchell Report, which held Selig partially responsible but also compiled the names of 90 players based on only two real sources.
If only two sources can in almost all cases credibly implicate that many players, then steroid and PED use didn’t just happen under Selig’s tenure, it was rampant under Selig’s tenure. Selig had to know, and it strains credulity to believe otherwise.
Bud Selig in the Hall of Fame is no surprise. However, if the man who oversaw and turned a blind eye to the largest and longest-running cheating racket in American sports history can get elected to Cooperstown, then so should the guys who did the juicing and scored the runs. After all, it’s only fair.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn