Brewers to erect a statue of Bud Selig. As they should.

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Selig Brewers.jpgFrom the Brewers’ official PR Twitter account:

Brewers announce
it will honor MLB Commissioner & former owner Bud Selig with statue
at Miller Park’s Home Plate Plaza, unveil set for 8/24.

OK, first off, let’s put an end to the snark-fest that has already started.  You and I can could mock this if it was a statue dedicated to Bud Selig the Commissioner of Baseball. We could say things like this should be the pose in which the statue should be cast. We can say that no Commissioner who presided over the cancellation of a World Series should be honored. But that would be wrong. Why? Because Bud Selig was an owner first, this statue is to honor him as an owner and in that capacity he probably deserves it.

Selig was a minority owner of the Milwaukee Braves, who for a while there were beloved in Milwaukee.  When the majority owners started casting about to find a place to move the team, Selig worked in vain to keep them in town.  As soon as that effort failed, he formed a group to try and get Milwaukee another team. He managed to get the Pilots. And before you accuse Selig of being a team-stealer, remember that (a) the Pilots were going bankrupt there anyway; and (b) if the Pilots didn’t cease to be, “Ball Four” would be way less fun.

The Brewers were successful when he was an active owner. They played in a World Series. The city fell in love with them, and though that love has ebbed and flowed depending on the record, I’d wager that fan loyalty is greater in Milwaukee than it is in the majority of major league cities. This is a gut feeling but it’s backed up by anecdotal evidence.  For example, Jonah Keri just tweeted something interesting:

Went to Brewers game in 90s, Bud emerged from box during 7th inning stretch. EVERYONE started chanting BUD! BUD! Seriously.

Bud may be a cold fish. Bud may not be as great a commissioner as his supporters in the game and the media make him out to be.  But he’s Milwaukee’s cold fish commissioner, and there are people there who love the guy. And even if they don’t, they love the team he brought them and helped build into a winner.

Is that not statue-worthy? I kind of think it is.

The Yankees and Red Sox will play on artificial turf in London

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Major League Baseball wants to give the United Kingdom a taste of America’s pastime when the Yankees and Red Sox visit next month. Based on the playing surface they’re going to use, however, they may as well have sent the Blue Jays and the Rays:

Major League Baseball has access to Olympic Stadium for 21 days before the games on June 29 and 30, the sport’s first regular-season contests in Europe, and just five days after to clear out. The league concluded that there was not enough time to install real grass.

Starting June 6, gravel will be placed over the covering protecting West Ham’s grass soccer pitch and the running track that is a legacy from the 2012 Olympics. The artificial turf baseball field, similar to modern surfaces used by a few big league clubs, will be installed atop that.

At least they will not use the old-style sliding pits/turf infield that you used to always see. That’ll all be dirt. There are comments in the article about how it’s a cost savings too since they’re going back next year and won’t have to bulldoze and re-grow grass. Aaron Boone and Xander Bogaerts were asked and they don’t seem to care since it’s similar to the surface they play on in Toronto or down in Florida against the Rays.

Still, this whole deal is not aimed at doing whatever is minimally necessary to pull off a ballgame. It’s supposed to be a showcase on a global stage in a world capital. I have no idea how anyone thinks that doing that on a surface everyone has decided is obsolete for baseball playing purposes unless the ballpark is either outdated or in an arid environment is a good idea.

It’s certainly not baseball putting its best foot forward. Major League Baseball could’ve avoided this by choosing a different venue or even building a temporary one like MLB has done on a few occasions in the past. That, I suppose, would limit the revenue-generation capacity of these games, however, that’s off the table in the Rob Manfred Era.

Yankees and Red Sox on turf. What a decision.