Tom Verducci has an exclusive interview with Bud Selig and asked him about PEDs, replay, competitive balance and his legacy in the game. Takeaways: (1) he’s definitely retiring after 2014; (2) he denies that baseball turned a blind eye to PEDs; rather he was surprised by it and then the union fought testing; (3) he simply changed his mind about replay; and (4) he’s proud of what has happened to competitive balance in the game.
I think serious issue can be taken with his account of the history of PEDs in baseball. Veducci pressed him a couple of times and it caused Selig to admit some things. And while I have no doubt about Selig’s personal ignorance of PEDs — he tells a story about how he had his pharmacist explain Andro to him — I wasn’t aware that the entirety of Major League Baseball’s knowledge and action with respect to PEDs was contingent on the personal knowledge of an aging and physically-detached-from-the-clubhouse commissioner. Baseball as an institution turned a blind eye and it seems impossible for Selig to deny that.
As for replay, I wish Verducci asked him about why it needs to be a challenge system, but I don’t suppose Selig would have much to say beyond deferring to the expertise of his commission on the matter.
It’s hard to take any issue with Selig’s final summation of his legacy:
if you look at where we were in 1992 in terms of attendance, revenue, popularity, game itself, competitive balance, labor peace, go on and on, I think the last 21, 22 years of baseball have been really remarkably good. But I’ve got to let others draw those conclusions.
That’s undeniably true. We can and should note when good things happen despite bad decisions and when better things could have or may be achieved rather than merely good, but it’s hard to argue that the game is worse off now than it was when Selig took over.