Bud Selig makes it official: He’ll step down in January of 2015

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Bud Selig insisted way back in July of 2012 that he planned to step down following the 2014 season and today he made it official, announcing that he will cease being Commissioner in January of 2015.

Selig, who will turn 80 in July, has been running MLB since 1992, for six years as interim Commissioner and holding the job officially since 1998. The sport’s revenues have seen explosive growth during his tenure, but his reign is tainted by rampant steroid use that caused many of the game’s revered records to be smashed.

“I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution,” Selig said in a statement. “I thank our players, who give me unlimited enthusiasm about the future of our game. Together we have taken this sport to new heights and have positioned our national pastime to thrive for generations to come.  Most of all, I would like to thank our fans, who are the heart and soul of our game.”

Selig is quick to point out that Major League Baseball will have had two decades of uninterrupted labor peace, though a work-stoppage wiped out the end of the 1994 season and forced a truncated ’95 campaign. He oversaw expansion of the postseason to include two Wild Cards in each league and Division Series in both leagues. The league also grew from 26 to 30 teams, with the establishment of the Marlins, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Rays, and franchise valuations skyrocketed. In later years, Selig also helped the league revamp its revenue-sharing model. The league was on the forefront of the digital revolution with the establishment of MLB.com and MLB Network.

But Selig also turned a blind eye to widespread steroid use that peaked during the “Steroid Era” in which the single-season and career home run records were shattered. Several players from the Steroid Era, including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire, have been denied entry into the Hall of Fame as a result of their use, not all of which has been proven. In his final year, he pushed for the league to investigate several players linked to a Miami clinic, Biogenesis, that led to the suspensions of 14 players, including Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun. The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez is appealing his suspension, which could stretch as long as 211 games.

“It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life,” Selig said. “Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term.”

Major League Baseball did not announce Selig’s replacement, but the league said its management structure would be altered after his retirement. The league said it would announce a transition plan soon.

Selig has talked about retiring before, only to remain on the job, so there’s still some “I’ll believe it when I see it” skepticism surrounding this announcement, but the timing gives MLB a chance to establish a full-time successor and make a seamless transition.

I’m looking forward to a Mariano Rivera-style retirement tour around baseball.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.