Bud Selig To Retire in 2014, or Maybe Not

Stop me if you've heard this one:  Bud Selig, who has been the commissioner of Major League Baseball on an interim or fulltime basis since 1992, has announced that he plans on retiring after the 2014 season, shortly after turning 80 years old.

But like the collapse of the Berlin Wall or Guns N' Roses releasing Chinese Democracy, this is something that I will believe when it actually happens.  Selig has announced his intention to retire on at least two previous occasions, and both times he decided to continue as commissioner for another few seasons.

And really, who can blame a guy for dragging his feet on retiring when he is working his dream job and making a reported $22 million a year?

But in truth, Major League Baseball should be in no hurry for Bud Selig to retire.  After all, it is Selig's leadership that has led to a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity throughout the sport.

As hard as it is to believe, MLB currently enjoys the best labor relations in professional sports.  It has been 18 years since the last strike, and the last two labor deals were approved by both sides without any real controversy. 

Financially, the game has never been healthier, as their $7.7 billion in revenue ranks second only to the NFL and is higher than the NBA and NHL put together.  Baseball has also set new records for total revenue in each of the past ten years, and during that time the game has doubled its revenue figures.

Baseball also has more shared revenue than ever before, which has led to the best competitive balance in all of sports.  The past eleven World Series Championships have been split among nine different franchises, and a total of 14 teams have won the 22 American and National League pennants. 

Only the NHL, which has had ten different Stanley Cup winners during that time, can match that level of parity, and that is largely the result of having twice as many teams making the playoffs.

While Selig has gotten a bad rap over the years for holding the sport back, he is actually responsible for numerous innovations within the game.  Bud's list of changes to the game include the three-division format, the wild cards, interleague play, the MLB Network, MLB.com, the World Baseball Classic, giving meaning to the All-Star game, instant replay in the playoffs, and turning the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut into a holiday.  

That's a lot of innovation for a guy who has supposedly been asleep at the wheel all of these years.

Of course, there are some fans that will never forgive Selig for dragging his feet on the PED issue while home run records were being broken left-and-right.  But PED usage (steroids included) in MLB clubhouses was an issue well before Selig's tenure began.  And unlike previous commissioners, Selig actually got something done about the issue by implementing a system of testing and punishments as a part of the 2002 labor agreement.  But like so many of the good moves of his tenure, nobody will give Bud Selig an ounce of credit.

So to recap:  Bud Selig is overseeing a time of unprecedented prosperity, both in terms of revenue and labor peace.  Parity is widespread, while the PED issue that had plagued the game since before his tenure is getting resolved.  Why would MLB possibly want to change their CEO during such a time?

Take as long as you need to retire, Bud.  

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