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

Associated Press
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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.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”