I never cared for Bud Selig as commissioner. There were very few decisions that he made that I agreed with and honestly felt like he stayed too long. Plus there was that whole “cancelled the World Series” thing.
Usually when someone writes a statement like that before reviewing a biography, there’s sentences that follow about how this book really made them reevaluate the person or now they understand some of the decisions made, even if they still don’t agree with them.
Not this time.
For The Good of the Game came out last year and it is Bud Selig’s view and defense of his time as commissioner. Now, perhaps it was mainly because of the bias I took into it, but this book really didn’t do anything for me in rehabilitating Selig’s image. Honestly, the best burnishing his legacy is getting is the fact that he’s not Rob Manfred, though let’s not forget the only reason Manfred ever got into baseball was because of Bud Selig. Perhaps that’s just another black mark on his record.
There wasn’t a whole lot of contrition or even much acknowledgment that perhaps things could have been done differently or anything like that. There was a lot of blame thrown on the players, of course, and pretty much the entire story is the heroic owners, just beaten down financially, trying to do something and the greedy players just rejecting it. No seeming acknowledgement of how this gulf of mistrust formed (well, Bud didn’t really know anything about collusion while he was an owner under Peter Ueberroth, the Brewers just weren’t trying to sign free agents). Nothing but the story of the good guy owners.
It’s taken me a long time to read this book (and, in fairness, I’m still because you can get aggravated at it at times. It doesn’t feel as much as “the inside story of the surprising and dramatic transformation of Major League Baseball”, as it says on the cover, as it does the press talking points for one side of things. There’s a little bit of the internal dissension, but there’s nothing that’s terribly scandalous in the whole thing.
If you want an idea of how it goes, he says that the John Henry-Jeffrey Loria-MLB triangle that got Henry out of Florida and to the gold mine that was Boston, Loria away from the Expos (that he was destroying) so that MLB could move them to Washington was one of his great achievements. Anybody paying attention at the time knew it at least danced on the border of being unethical, but it’s a feather in his cap for Selig.
Also, he says he was a slow convert to instant replay (and that may be, plus it dropped Tony La Russa a smidgen in my estimation as he was one apparently that campaigned for more and more of it) but he says it is working wonderfully now and it is something to be proud of. Not sure which games he’s watching, but even with my bias against instant replay, it’s pretty clear that it’s not exactly going the way it was designed (or, at least, the way it should work best).
He also says he just planned to have the job for a few months, but the owners just kept running him out there. Maybe. I don’t think he was too disappointed with the results, though.
Anyway, as much as I’ve grumbled about things, I completely will cop to it being how I came at the book. If nothing else, it’s an interesting walk through baseball history of the last 50 years, pretty much, starting before Milwaukee had a team and his efforts to get one to the area. It’s a well-written book and everything and if you aren’t as against Selig’s reign as I am, you might find it much more appealing!