Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dark clouds still hang over Selig, baseball

The nightmare continues for Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, with Mark McGwire's not surprising admission to steroid and human growth hormone use. As much as Selig would love to turn the page on this dark chapter, he keeps getting pulled back in.

Selig is in a tough spot with McGwire because he can't really criticize him since the home-run race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa during the 1998 season helped save baseball after the disastrous strike. His statement expressed pleasure that McGwire finally confessed, but mostly focused on the stricter drug-testing policy implemented on his watch. There was also more than an inkling of resentment about continued references to the "steroid era," which Selig claimed is a thing of the past.

I feel a bit sorry for Selig because the steroid scandal continues to taint his legacy. This despite dramatic changes he has overseen that have improved the game during his 17-year tenure, including the revamp that allowed for the introduction of wild card teams and an extra round of playoffs, and billions of dollars in additional revenues. But the steroids scandal defines his tenure because of the extensive use and the length of time and legislative prodding it took to implement the tougher testing program. Not entirely his fault, of course, but as commissioner he gets a large share of the blame.

Will it ever really be over for Selig and baseball? Unlikely. The scandal will be revisited every time another player on the positive test list is publicly outed. It will come up year after year when these players become eligible for the Hall of Fame. Luckily for Selig, he plans to retire at the end of 2012, right before baseball writers vote on Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sosa. The next commissioner will have to deal with that mess.

Thanks to Major League Baseball via Wikipedia for the photo.

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