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Bud Selig is a sniveling weasel.

He professes to have been hurt by the Braves’ departure from Milwaukee in
1965, but got his own team by stealing it from another
municipality–Seattle–just five years later. Now, he wants to take teams
away from two other cities, again re-creating his pain for thousands,
perhaps millions, of fans.

Bud Selig is untrustworthy.

He claims to want what is best for baseball, but does more to tear down the
game than to promote it. He still approaches it as the owner of a team in a
midwestern city, concerned only with how much money he can get from 1)
governments, 2) players, and 3) other owners. He is the source of baseball’s
ongoing "anti-marketing," campaign where entire cities are told to
stay away from the ballpark because the local team has no chance to win and
the ballpark sucks and the players are greedy.

It was Bud Selig who signed off on the brilliant idea of tying
revenue-sharing payments to payroll, a system that incentivized being cheap.
The two most likely candidates for contraction are the two teams that took
greatest advantage of the flaws in Selig’s plan.

And then he calls the places they play "markets that generate
insufficient local revenues to justify the investment in the
franchise."

Bud Selig is an extortionist.

This isn’t about viability, or competitiveness, or any of the other
marginally acceptable reasons for ditching a franchise or two. This is
extortion. This is about trying to force a city or a state to commit
millions of taxpayer dollars to a ballpark that will generate lots of money
for private enterprise.

The Minnesota Twins’ track record in recent years blows away that of the
Milwaukee Brewers or Pittsburgh Pirates:

  • The Minnesota Twins went 85-77 this year. The Brewers haven’t won 85
    games since 1992, nor have the Pirates.

  • The Minnesota Twins have been to–and won–two World Series since the
    last time either the Brewers or the Pirates appeared in one.

  • The Minnesota Twins franchise is more than 100 years old. The Milwaukee
    Brewer franchise isn’t half of that.

The issue at hand isn’t market size or on-field play, though; it’s that MLB
has not being able to threaten, cajole, or otherwise get its hands on a $400
million cut of Minnesota’s tax dollars. But the Milwaukee Brewers and the
Pittsburgh Pirates were able to wheedle taxpayer-funded ballparks from their
governments, so they’re not in any danger of being contracted, no matter how
long they remain uncompetitive.

Threatening to take away a franchise isn’t about improving baseball. It’s
about setting the tone for stadium extortions in the present and future,
while opening up a couple of markets for teams to use as blackmail chips
going forward.

And it’s more than that. By putting forth the idea that there are four teams
under consideration, Selig is creating an atmosphere of fear and
uncertainty, most likely in the hopes that a city that feels it may lose its
team will kowtow to MLB’s demands and cough up nine figures worth of ransom
money to get off the endangered list.

Bud Selig is stupid.

Not 72 hours ago, baseball was on a high unlike any since the waning days of
the 1998 season. The seventh game of the best World Series in a decade was
complete, a fresh set of heroes was crowned, the game had gotten its best
television ratings in years.

Today, he gave all of that good will away in one easy motion.

If there’s one talent that Selig has proven he has, it’s that he can cut off
baseball’s momentum as well as anyone. No one has the ability to ruin a good
baseball moment like the used car dealer from Milwaukee.

Bud Selig is small-minded.

Contraction is going to cost baseball upwards of $400 million, nuke at least
two markets and alienate untold numbers of fans. (If you think the damage
will only be in the affected markets, think again.)

Given the costs involved, why not consider alternate solutions? Why not take
some of that $400 million and use it to fund a new ballpark in Minnesota. If
MLB put up $100 million, and billionaire Carl Pohlad put up another $100
million, it would show that MLB is serious about more than extorting money
from local governments, that it is willing to invest in its own product, and
not merely turn profits off of taxpayer money.

From a business standpoint, this makes tremendous sense. After all, the
Twins’ primary complaint is that the deal they have at the Metrodome doesn’t
provide them with enough revenue. They are essentially tenants of the
Vikings. In a new, privately-funded park, they would reap all the
benefits–parking, concessions, luxury boxes–themselves.

That would be creative, forward thinking. It would also prove what is
painfully obvious to many people: ballparks can, and should, be built
primarily with private funds. Of course, this is the exact opposite of what
Bud Selig and MLB owners want, so it will not come to pass.

I said last week that Bud Selig could do more damage to baseball than anyone
since Chick Gandil.

I may have underestimated him.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by
clicking here.

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