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.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.