I’ve been pretty out front in arguing that Bud Selig’s tenure as Commissioner of Baseball has been a successful one. At least (a) if you measure him by what his actual job is and not what you wish it was; and (b) if you measure him against his predecessors.
But even if you do that and even if, like me, you come to the conclusion that Selig has been a success, it’s not like success as Commissioner is the sort of thing that the masses are likely to celebrate. The Padres seem to have missed that:
On yet another sun-kissed day in paradise, the Padres honored Selig with a dedication ceremony of the Selig Hall of Fame Plaza at Petco Park, which sits behind the Western Metal Supply Building, next to 13 palm trees, waving gently in the breeze during the 20-minute ceremony . . . the area will serve as a home to the Padres Hall of Fame and eventually statues in the plaza to honor Padres greats as well as a plaque to honor Selig, not just for his overall achievements to baseball during his 22-year tenure as Commissioner but the specific accomplishment of helping to keep baseball afloat in San Diego.
The Padres, it seems, have the same disconnect regarding Selig that fans who think he’s awful do: they think he’s a leader of of people apart from 30 baseball owners. They’re treating him like a statesman or a political figure when, in fact, he’s the head of a board of directors. A CEO of a business. A business that, to be fair, a lot of us patronize, but which in terms of revenues is not all that far north of the Dollar Tree stores. I don’t think Bob Sasser, the CEO of Dollar Tree, Inc., is getting plazas named after him on the sidewalk out side any Dollar Tree outlets these days.
Just another example of the weird relationship between sports and the public. A relationship in which sports are treated like public institutions and their leaders are somehow considered something other than business people. The same thing that goes into making a public plaza honoring Bud Selig is what goes into governments and tax payers giving them money to build ballparks or courts immunizing them from the same laws every other business has to follow. This impulse has always baffled me.
Let us praise Bud Selig for the things he has done. And let him have his statue in Milwaukee because, after all, he did bring baseball to Milwaukee. But let us have perspective too. He’s an executive. He’s not an athlete people loved to watch like Tony Gwynn. He’s not a war hero like Ted Williams. He’s not a statesman like some mayor, president or governor. He’s an executive of a moderately-sized business. Nothing more. Why he gets a plaza in San Diego is beyond me.