Thursday, January 17, 2008

Do we really need more Bud?

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig had his contract extended Thursday and will remain in office until the end of the 2012 season.

Now I guess that’s not a bad idea since Selig oversees a business that generated $6.1 billion in gross revenues in 2007 and expects to sell more than 80 million tickets this summer.

But, and I think we know what the but is.

Baseball has been rocked by the steroid and performance-enhancing drug scandal. Selig has been called before Congress twice and called out by President Bush once.

While the game has flourished, the records have been skewed and public trust in players has been diminished. A good number of baseball fans think all the players are using some performance enhancer, which isn’t the case. Still, perception is everything.

And while Selig can take credit for the popularity explosion, he must take the blame for the cheating mess. After all, he and the other owners turned a blind eye while steroid use ran rampant, choosing to listen to the hum of the turnstiles and the cha-ching of the cash registers over the whispers that their sport was tainted.

Selig’s contract was due to expire after the 2009 season.

This would have been the ideal time to usher Selig toward retirement and look for a new commissioner, one who would promise to clean up the game.

That’s Selig’s goal, one he now professes, but only after the names and allegations have been made public.

What baseball needs is a commissioner who will make that the top priority as he starts his term, a commissioner we can believe when he makes those promises.

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