There will be a Bud Selig autobiography in 2019

Getty Images

The former Chicago Tribune/ reporter Phil Rogers tweeted today that he has ghost-written a Bud Selig autobiography which will be published in July 2019. It will be called “For the Good of the Game” and can be pre-ordered now.

I’ll be charitable enough to Selig to say that it will likely contain a lot of interesting stories. Love him or hate him, he has been one of the most important and influential baseball figures in the past 50 years. He has taken a central role in most major baseball developments since the 1960s and bore witness to just about every other one. The guy has seen some things and I’m sure he has some interesting stories.

What it will not be, however, is anything approaching a useful history of baseball during that time.

As I have written here many times, Selig has never — not once — owned up to his role in some of baseball’s darkest chapters. Quite the contrary, actually. He has engaged in abject denial about his role, even going so far as to cast his largest failures as successes. He has been able to get away with it thanks to a largely compliant and sometimes complicit media which has taken his and/or the league’s side of the story in a largely uncritical fashion most of the time.

Sure, the media has hammered Selig for some blunders — malapropisms and minor P.R. problems and embarrassments like the tied All-Star Game in 2002 — but rarely is he properly blamed for his more malign acts and he has never taken responsibility for them. For example:

  • Selig was one of the primary architects of collusion in the 1980s yet has largely skated on it. More than skated, actually. He gets credit for expansion to Colorado, Miami, Arizona and Tampa Bay but rarely is it noted that the primary motivation for said expansion was to pay off the legal judgments leveled at Major League Baseball’s owners for said collusion;
  • He is often criticized for presiding over the league as acting commissioner when the World Series was cancelled due to the 1994-95 players’ strike, but rarely is it noted that the strike was the direct result of Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf’s aggressive scheme to break the union and impose a salary cap rather than negotiate with the players in good faith;
  • The Steroid Era is, again, passively noted whenever Selig’s legacy is discussed, but it is the players, not Selig or the clubs, who were cast as the bad guys and made the scapegoats in the proliferation of PEDs in the game. Indeed, even the very report that Selig commissioned with the clear purpose of scapegoating players — the Mitchell Report — noted that Major League Baseball as a whole, management included, was responsible for the PED scourge, yet that part was ignored by most. For his part, Selig went from pretending steroids did not exist to taking credit for cleaning up the game and punishing those wrongdoing players in about 3.2 seconds. He has vehemently refused to take any responsibility for PEDs.

These are all major, major events in baseball history. None of which, I presume, will be dealt with objectively in Selig’s book. Indeed, we’ll likely get more of his usual denial and defensiveness about these subjects, complete with the de rigueur baseless assertions. Teams were gonna go bankrupt if I didn’t act! I had no idea that players were using drugs! In the end I’m sure there will be a lot of ambassadorial words about his role as a “steward” of the game and very little said about how he used base, power politics to transform himself from local businessman-wealthy into being worth a few hundred million dollars by virtue of (a) manipulating cities and competitors into doing things that enriched him, his family and his fellow owners; and (b) being repaid by those fellow owners by being allowed to turn the Commissioner’s job into full-blown CEO gig paying him tens of millions of dollars a year, even after he retired.

Which, by the way, would be a hell of a story! Some of that has already been written, of course — check out Jon Pessah’s  The Game: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers, which came out in 2015 — but fresh, objective eyes on those stories by someone with access to Selig would be a fantastic historical work. It’s not gonna happen in Selig’s lifetime, of course. Even at 84 he’s still a cunning dude, very conscious of his legacy and very active in maintaining it. He’s not about to give any nakedly honest assessments of his tenure in the game nor is he going to even chance a critical writer to tell his tales. There’s a reason a one-time employee of got the ghostwriting gig.

Which isn’t to say this won’t be historically useful in at least some respects. As I said before, Selig is a major figure in the history of baseball. He was there. He did it and saw it all. Even if he’s not going to be honest about the stuff he did and saw, having his spin on how it went should make later, more objective takes on what went down in baseball between the 1960s and today far more rich and revealing. Selig’s gloss on his own history will tell its own story eventually, even if it’s not the story he hired Phil Rogers to tell.

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

aaron judge
Cole Burston/Getty Images

TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.