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Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2016 — #16: Bud Selig gets elected to the Hall of Fame

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We’re a few short days away from 2017 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2016. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

This is the most recent entry on our list, and it’s the sort of “a thing that happens every year” story that doesn’t necessarily make for big news. But Bud Selig being inducted into the Hall of Fame, as he was in early December, may have some repercussions that are bigger than the event itself.

As for the facts: there was no surprise whatsoever that the new version of the Veterans Committee — The Today’s Game Committee — elected Selig. Selig sat on the Hall of Fame board for years and the Hall of Fame has a vested interest in keeping Major League Baseball happy. It was certainly going to elect Selig in as soon as possible and it did just that.

It did that despite the fact that Selig was an accomplice to a literal criminal conspiracy that harmed people’s livelihoods and, in turn, compromised the product on the field. Despite the fact that he launched a disastrous, cynical and greed-inspired labor war that cost us the 1994 season and World Series. Despite the fact that willfully turned a blind eye to steroid and performance enhancing drug use in the game and then turned around and vilified and scapegoated the players who used those drugs in a comically grandstanding and self-serving manner. He may have been baseball’s best commissioner ever, but that doesn’t mean he’s entitled to make the Hall of Fame. The guy did a lot of harm to the institution he was tasked with leading. That baseball’s revenues helped make people forget about it all doesn’t change what he did.

But, as I said: repercussions. At the moment it appears that two figures who have long been shunned in Hall of Fame voting — Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — are seeing a big uptick in their support among BBWAA voters, who will cast their ballots by the end of week. The reason many are stating for changing their votes in Bonds’ and Clemens’ favor: Selig’s election. If the man whose negligence and turning a blind eye to PED use in baseball until it became a PR problem for him is in Cooperstown, why should we bar the door to PED users themselves?

Seeing Bud Selig get inducted to the Hall next Cooperstown is going to bug me a bit. But if that makes it possible for two of the best players in baseball history to get their overdue inductions sometime down the road, it’s worth it.

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.