Last week I finished off my column with the words, “I’m just getting started”. The more I think about the Bud Selig illegacy, the more I am realizing that this topic could indeed turn into a novel of epic length, something akin to The Decline and fall of The Roman Empire. There is so much to reveal and discuss concerning the man who has tried everything in his power to destroy this wonderful game of baseball. And the hits just keep on coming.
Selig has long had a very shady relationship with current Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. Loria is a name which is still reviled in the city of Montreal . The dubious financial transactions between Loria and the now owner of the Boston Red Sox; bribery and the contraction scheme of a few years past to the present day investigation by the securities; and exchange commission concerning the Miami Marlins stadium deal– all hint at the possible involvement of Selig. The baseball world should be gathering outside of Miller Park to, as was done in ancient Roman times, unceremoniously tear down the statues of their corrupt and former Caesars.
Selig, as owner of the Brewers, is thought of fondly in many parts of Milwaukee as the man who brought baseball back to that wonderful city. This is all despite the fact that he ran this franchise into the ground, left the fans with a team in which little money was ever invested in and then as owner was at the same time, the commissioner of baseball. The term conflict of interest began to rear its ugly head. After being exposed for this conflict of interest, Selig defended himself by switching the day to day operations of the Brewers to his daughter. He claimed that this would satisfy any conflict of interest charges as he had little or no influence…on his own daughter.
The Montreal Expos were allowed to wither and die on the vine. Star players were allowed to be traded for what amounted to little more than Triple A players and plans for a new and modern baseball park in downtown Montreal were scuttled by Loria and I suspect his good friend Bud Selig. Almost any other franchise you could name would not be allowed to hurt the city and destroy a franchise whose fans showed they were very supportive of a team which, through good times and bad, did support the team. Loria wanted to buy the then Florida Marlins, owned by current Boston owner John Henry, and Selig was just the man to do it. At one point, Henry owned both the Marlins and RedSox, illegal by any business laws. The evoking of the best interest of baseball remained securely locked in the top drawer in the commissioner’s office. Baseball purchased the Expos from Loria allowing him to buy the Florida Marlins. There were also interest free loans involved.
There’s more. The owner of the Minnesota Twins was offered hundreds of millions of dollars by Selig to contract the team a few seasons ago. This money was much more than Carl Pohlad could have received had he sold the team on the open market. There was no logical reason to contract the Twins. Attendance was good and they had been successful. Pohlad and Selig were very good friends and financial buddies. After the media became aware of this situation, the flood of negative press saw Selig suddenly abandon these contraction plans. But Loria got the Marlins and Henry got the RedSox.
All of the above, brief as this discussion is, point to obvious and very dubious and probably illegal, financial wheeling and dealings encouraged if not tacitly sanctioned by the one man who is supposed to be looking after major league baseball. All of this by the man who boasts that revenues have quadrupled over the last few years. So have ticket prices, concession prices and team souvenirs.
I’ll be going on to part three next week. The awarding of another, (third time is the charm), franchise to Washington, steroids, the All Star game, November baseball and other topics-if I have the stomach for it. Right now I’m suddenly not feeling that well.