Major leagues: Selig to retire in 2015
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, shown in a file phot, said Thursday he plans to retire in January 2015.
NEW YORK – Bud Selig took over a sport with $1.7 billion in revenue, four teams in each year’s postseason, economic disparity among the clubs and a fixation on sticking with traditions that dated to the 19th century.
After a decade of maintaining his departure was imminent, the 79-year-old baseball commissioner put his exit plans in writing Thursday and said in a statement he will retire in January 2015 after 22 years – the second-longest term behind Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
His revolutionary reign produced an $8 billion industry, interleague play, an expanded postseason and two decades of labor peace. But, he also presided over a canceled World Series and long-running drug scandal.
“He’s been the voice of baseball. Some people liked his voice. Some people didn’t,” Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I have a lot of respect for the guy.”
Selig has been a bit of the Boy Who Cried Wolf in the past when it came to his retirement. He said in 2003 that he would step down at the end of 2006 but has repeatedly accepted new contracts.
Some owners – even his wife – had been skeptical in the past that he really would quit, but this marked the first time he issued a formal statement that he will give up the sport’s top job. He even gave an exact date: Jan. 24, 2015.
Selig’s length of service and impact on his sport matches those of Pete Rozelle, the NFL commissioner from 1960-89, and David Stern, who is stepping down in February after 30 years as NBA commissioner.
Selig said he will soon announce a transition plan that will include a reorganization of central baseball management. Rob Manfred, baseball’s chief labor negotiator, has gained increased influence in recent years, but it’s not clear whether Selig’s successor will come from within the commissioner’s office.
Perhaps the biggest mark on Selig’s tenure was the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs. Management didn’t have a drug agreement with its players from October 1985 until August 2002, and drug testing with penalties didn’t start until 2004. Selig has repeatedly defended his record, saying baseball acted as fast as it could in a matter that was subject to bargaining with players.
Selig’s tenure also included splitting each league into three divisions instead of two in 1995, when wild cards and an additional round of playoffs were added. Wild cards doubled to four last year, when the postseason stretched to four rounds.
Expansion teams in Arizona and Tampa Bay started play in 1998, raising the major league total to 30. Interleague play began in 1997 along with revenue sharing, which allowed the smaller-market clubs a better chance to compete. Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 was retired by Selig for all of MLB that same year, and other initiatives followed.
St. Louis 4, Washington 1: Rookie Shelby Miller won his 15th game, and Yadier Molina had the go-ahead hit for the St. Louis Cardinals, who wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals and moved another step closer to the NL Central title with a 4-1 victory on Wednesday.
Jordan Zimmermann (19-9) missed his only shot at 20 wins, allowing four runs in seven innings. The Nationals had five hits one day after breaking up rookie Michael Wacha’s bid for a no-hitter in the ninth inning.
Matt Adams hit his eighth home run since replacing injured Allen Craig and doubled for the Cardinals, who led the Pirates by 2½ games with three games to go. The Reds lost 1-0 to the Mets Wednesday and were eliminated from the divisional race.
Brewers-Braves suspensions: The Milwaukee Brewers’ Carlos Gomez and Atlanta Braves’ Reed Johnson have each been suspended one game after a benches-clearing argument between their teams. Both were also fined an undisclosed amount.
In the top of the first inning Wednesday in Atlanta, Gomez homered off Paul Maholm, still furious the Braves starter hit him with a pitch three months earlier.
Gomez stood in the batter’s box watching the ball, stared at Maholm, and flipped his bat. Gomez was yelling at Maholm as he slowly trotted up the first base line. Gomez then began jawing with first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Gomez touched second and third without incident before catcher Brian McCann stood in the third base line about 20 feet from home plate and stopped him.
The benches emptied, and Gomez was ejected for shoving Johnson, a reserve outfielder. Freeman and reserve catcher Gerald Laird were also ejected.