Charles Pierce has a good piece at Grantland about Bud’s legacy.
He’s not a fan. Nor am I. Pierce is almost surely right. Bud will one day enter Cooperstown (no word yet on whether his plaque will include an asterisk because of the so-called steroid era). Pierce is also right that Selig presided over a period of extraordinary economic success (despite Selig’s frequent misrepresentations, before 2002, about the dire economic health of some his franchises.
As Pierce writes:
He leaves baseball an $8 billion industry, with the average franchise valued at nearly a billion dollars. There has not been a serious labor problem in 19 years. There have been 22 new ballparks built or utterly overhauled while he’s been commissioner, and the revenue-sharing money is well into nine figures a year.
There persists a misapprehension about MLB’s economic position because sports media focus too much on national TV ratings and the powerhouse that is the NFL. National TV ratings mean relatively little to MLB, whose wealth is dependent to a significant extent on local television contracts. I am not sure this has a whole lot to do with any particular strategy the commissioner has pursued in enhancing the sport’s appeal. It appears, instead, to be a function of a changing media landscape in which live programming – for now – is especially valuable. Baseball, as it happens, can deliver more of that than any other entertainment entity, resulting in one bonanza television deal after another.
I’m just preparing myself for a lot head shaking when the (undeserved) accolades for Bud really start to roll in.