If You Kill The King, Somone's Gotta Take The Throne: Replacing Bud Selig

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It's safe to say The New York Daily News is a tad obsessed with the steroid issue as we move into the 2009 season. This week they released their Five Point Plan to "rid baseball of their steroid scourge." Ah, yes. A War On Drugs. Those always work. Despite their ambitious yet impossible goal of eradicating PED's, step one of the program is one that we're definitely all for. Replacing Bud Selig. The News does a solid job of listing his failures and achievements but ignores the fact that his pedigree doomed his tenure before it started

Skyrocketing baseball revenue has insulated Selig from job instability throughout his entire reign as Commish. It's kept people from every seriously questioning the integrity of his position despite the fact that was was interim commissioner and owner that made himself king. That kind of move wouldn't fly on a Wisconsin town council, but has gone without serious challenge for the past 17 years. Replacing him with a non-owner would instantly add an element of transparency and fairness. It is a huge, inborn bias that promoted the financial expansion of the sport beyond anything else. The financial vulnerability of baseball is a major concern and provides an opening to move Selig out of his fiefdom.

The Daily News piece offers up a list of possible candidates (and you can vote on em!) but all but one their choices are fatally flawed.

He can be a nerd, like Bill James. He or she can be a romantic, like George Will or Doris Kearns Goodwin. He can be old, like Frank Robinson. He can be young, like Theo Epstein.

They also pose Bob Costas and Al Gore as choices. Costas, Will and Kearns Goodwin have no background in mediation. James has no background in mediation and is antisocial. Frank Robinson is a former player, thus branding him with the same kind of bias that Selig currently possesses, albeit from a player's standpoint.

"Fixing" whatever problem you want to address in baseball be it steroids, financial equity, competitive equity, etc. will require a measure of legislation. Not legislation on a government level, but within the sport. It's going to need a commissioner that can mediate the discussion and as much as it pains me aesthetically a former politician is the best person for the job. Gore doesn't immediately strike you as a "baseball guy" but that's a trait that's overrated for this job anyway. Bart Giammati, one of the games most celebrated commissioners was a university president.

But Al Gore isn't the right person either. He has a cause he's committed to and if he's as sincere as he appears, fixing baseball is a step down from saving Earth. His old boss, Bill Clinton is busy with causes as well.

Though I can't express my political disagreement strongly enough (and if you've been reading me for awhile you know I don't have to) the names that jump out as intriguing and realistic candidates are all former Bush cabinet members. The two best would be Tom Ridge and my choice, Condoleeza Rice. Both are publicly documented sports fans, but Rice has a background in mediation that spans every level from academic to global (I'm not sure those are "levels" but you get it). She would also possess a unique perspective on one of MLB's problems du jour, the lack of an African-American player pipeline to the league.

For a million reasons no one from that administration is popular, but among baseball fans even Condoleeza Rice is more popular than Bud Selig. And popularity isn't the issue here, anyway. Baseball needs someone who can go in and provide the structure to clean up the Old Owners Club that has run wild in baseball for the past 20 years. If there's anyone that knows how a network of cronies works it's Rice. And she can definitely use the good karma.


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20 Comments

If we're going to give the job to a former Bush cabinet member, why not Paul O'Neill? He was an extremely successful CEO in the steel industry, was tops in giving back to the community, and was at the forefront of four Yankee world championships.

MANBEARPIG IS REAL

Al Gore would outlaw night games.

Nice article, but Allan isn't riding off into the sunset anytime soon.
Owners are making money. Players are making money. Everything else takes a back seat. Even with the current financial crisis, economic short-sightedness hasn't been replaced.
Cash rules: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmVAWKfJ4Go

I was hoping that was a link to C.R.E.A.M. but I never turn off Johnny Cash.

@bc, he would also make fake grass made from recycled soda bottles mandatory for all ball parks in order to save water.

Another added bonus to having Rice as commissioner is that she could tour all the ball parks and play the organ during the 7th inning stretch.

If you want a mediator, get a professional mediator, not a Secretary of State who saw US-world relations go down the crapper during her tenure.

I think Bill James would work if he had a sort of Wizard of Oz setup.

Condie is a YOOGE football fan. She'd never go for baseball.

I'll throw another name out there: Rudy Giuliani. Huge baseball fan, more importantly a huge Yankee fan.

Yes, please throw that name out, UU. I'd rather have Satan himself rule over baseball than Captain Combover. Huge baseball fan, huge self-important asshole.

Ridge would likely do a great job, but he doesn't strike me as being to eager to deal with the likes of the Daily News on a regular basis.

Colonel,

Hard line negotiations with Iran are dumb. Hard line negotiations with the Steinbrenner family are a must.

I think there are many who would argue that, despite the conventional talking points, the Rice-era State Department was demonstrably soft-line with Iran, North Korea, Russia, et al.

Still, the point about Steinbrenner rings true.

@Phony

I hate hockey but if someone offered me the job of NHL commish, I'd jump at it. Think about it: struggling pro sports league offers job to neophyte kid, kid turns around the entire sport with wild, wacky ideas. It's a Disney movie in the making!

Also, the Braves could probably do anything they wanted and be lauded as heroes, just like the Republic of Georgia was.

C.R.E.A.M. would have been a slam dunk there.

As soon as CHIPPER retires, I am writing a letter nominating him.

I'm glad I posted a comment 40 minutes after I typed it. Relevant.

Condi's education in Kremlinology will come in handy once they finally getting around to embalming Big Stein at the new Yankee Stadium.

@Rob, sure Rudy is a self-important ass but then most politicians are. He couldn't be any worse than Selig, actually the turkey sandwich I ate for lunch might be a better commissioner than Selig.

I'm not endorsing Giuliani for the job, it does seem like Rice would be a good fit.

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