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Volume 26 No. 207
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Bud Selig's New Book Shows Different Side Of Former Commish

Selig's book opens with his '07 trip to follow Barry Bonds breaking the MLB home run record
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Selig's book opens with his '07 trip to follow Barry Bonds breaking the MLB home run record
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Selig's book opens with his '07 trip to follow Barry Bonds breaking the MLB home run record
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

MLB Commissioner Emeritus BUD SELIG in his new book is "candid, sometimes foul-mouthed and angry," which is a "stark contrast to his public persona when he led the sport for more than two decades," according to Tom Goldman of NPR. In "FOR THE GOOD OF THE GAME," Selig reminisces on his tenure that saw him navigate "tumultuous events like the devastating player strike and the spread of performance-enhancing drugs." Selig "didn't like BARRY BONDS," and in '07 he was "miserable having to follow" Bonds as he approached HANK AARON's career home run record. In '95, the CLINTON administration "got involved in trying to resolve the baseball player strike." During a "particularly heated incident, Selig launched a tirade, replete with F-bombs, against former Vice President AL GORE." These "pointed moments, recounted in the book, don't exactly jibe with Selig's sometimes unflattering public image." Critics "derided the commissioner as bumbling and absent-minded" (NPR.org, 7/4). SPORTING NEWS' Ryan Fagan noted Selig's book, which was "written with the help of longtime Chicago sportswriter PHIL ROGERS," begins talking about how much Selig "hated following Bonds around." Selig said, "There are many ways that we could have started the book, I guess. Phil Rogers thought that was a good way to start it. There was no particular meaning to it, that we started it that way. We just felt that was a great lead-in for the book. And so that's where we started" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/5).

DRUG PROBLEMS: In Milwaukee, Jim Higgins noted Selig when discussing steroids repeatedly "assigns the lion's share of the blame to the players for refusing to collectively bargain a testing program." Selig wrote, "Even after baseball's obvious problem with illegal drugs, most notably cocaine, the union regarded a drug testing policy as an invasion of privacy. ... In the end, it didn't matter who was at fault. Our image suffered. We paid a terribly high price." By reading Selig's book, one can "see the union's stubbornness as a reaction to the long-term intransigence of the commissioner's other herd of cats, the owners." Selig wrote, "Baseball should have modified the reserve clause years earlier, maybe decades earlier. But these guys were behind the times" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/4).

WORTH A READ: THE ATHLETIC's Evan Drellich wrote Selig's book is "most worthy on two fronts: one, it provides an official record of his view," and two, it serves as a "summary and reminder of other episodes that may have slipped from view." The memoir is "readable and unsurprisingly rosy" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/5). THE DAILY BEAST's Corbin Smith wrote the book is a "slim volume that gives an unvarnished self-assessment of Bud’s time in the game, acknowledges his mistakes and articulates his struggles with big-market owners, the players union, and GEORGE STEINBRENNER" (THEDAILYBEAST.com, 7/6).

NOT ALL PERFECT: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Eben Novy-Wiliams wrote Selig uses the book to "tout his record on racial diversity, the 20 stadiums built during his tenure, and the introduction of the wild card." However, some of the stuff in the book just "doesn’t track with reality." Selig writes that baseball “is thriving,” but attendance has dropped for six straight years. When it comes to the "overall health of the sport, baseball and its fans deserve a less rose-tinted accounting" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/9). THE WALL STREET JOURNAL's Henry Fetter writes Selig may be "too inclined to portray himself as an honest broker seeking a middle ground between hot heads on both sides of the bargaining table, but there is merit in highlighting the intransigence of players as well as owners when it comes to assigning the blame for baseball’s troubles." While celebrating baseball’s financial success, Selig is "silent about the erosion of baseball’s once dominant hold on the nation’s sports fans" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/9).