Buster Olney reports that Bud Selig will get $6 million a year in annual compensation after he steps down as MLB commissioner next month.
Which is utterly insane.
Nothing personal to Selig, but this is a completely gratuitous parachute for a guy who has made, like, $100 million in salary alone and who, after he retires, will perform basically zero duties for Major League Baseball. He will not be “an ambassador” or anything like that. Baseball has hundreds of better ones in former players and managers. He will not serve in some advisory role of any substance, as doing so will only undermine a successor whose biggest challenge, as it is, is to gain the confidence of the owners. No, Selig is going to get that $6 million a year for doing jack squat.
Meanwhile, minor leaguers are paid sub-minimum wages, most front office staff are paid far below market rates and every worthy charity Major League Baseball supports could use the money a damn well bit more than Selig can.
But this isn’t just about Selig. Indeed, it’s nothing personal against him. By all accounts he’s a nice and thoughtful man who will spend his retirement well, teaching, studying and writing about history and enjoying baseball games. He’s a true fan and he has made no secret of his scholarly disposition and ambitions. I’m sure he’ll find some good uses for that money.
What makes no sense, however, is how often we see these sorts of payouts to former business leaders — even disgraced ones — and no one seems to pay them any mind, no one seems to question them and no one ever even bothers to attemp to justify them. Indeed, we just accept them as part of the business landscape. As if there is no other way things could be done and is if it’s not obscene in and of itself.
The closest we’ll hear to some justification is some weak case that a business has to do this sort of thing in order to attract future leaders. Which is nonsense, of course. It’s not as if Rob Manfred is going to quit tomorrow and go work as a Wal-Mart greeter because he only has tens of millions in salary coming to him as opposed to tens of millions and a sweet pension 20 years from now. Major League Baseball — a business whose very essence is about paying office employees (and players when they can get away with it) way, way, way below their actual worth because the allure of being close to baseball allows it to do so — is not going to lack for quality leadership if they don’t hand out golden parachutes.
Of course, no one will hold them to account for this. We live in a country that doesn’t bat an eye at millions paid to the executive class for literally doing nothing while we neglect working people and the poor and, in some cases, attack them for taking handouts that amount to a few hundred dollars a year. They’re “deadbeats” for demanding a living wage or needing some help feeding their children. They’re communists if they want to organize in order to improve their conditions. But Bud Selig is a hero who deserves that money and will be lionized even more than he already has been.
It says a lot about us as a country that this sort of thing happens. In this particular case it says that the 30 owners who approved this either think a man deserves an insane amount of money to sleep late and build ships in bottles in his retirement or they believe that, in reality, $6 million is not all that much money to give a person of a certain type.
I’m not sure which is worse.