Fittest loser
Article updated: 1/20/2014 8:54 PM

Steroids secured Selig legacy long before A-Rod

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who will retire a year from now, seems to be doing all he can lately to help secure a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who will retire a year from now, seems to be doing all he can lately to help secure a spot in the Hall of Fame.

 

Associated Press

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In a perverse, perhaps even pathological sort of way, I admire Bud Selig.

Seriously, I'm envious of his delusion.

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I've always been impressed by those who can get through a day believing in their greatness, accepting the platitudes of those in their employ, never hearing truth amid vast power and taking so seriously themselves that water need not be frozen to walk on it.

Let's just say that Selig does not seem cursed with self-awareness.

I'm wrong three times before I smell coffee in the morning and called on it twice before consuming a day-old doughnut.

Selig, on the other hand, is the ideal sports commissioner. We know this because, well, he tells us so often.

He is so proud of recent accomplishments that before he retires one year from now, he intends to tour all 30 major-league ballparks, signing autographs and giving interviews that tell the full story of his majesty.

Above all else, this is about his legacy as the Steroids Commissioner.

Selig will always be known as the man who presided over the proliferation of steroids and profited from it more than anyone during baseball's steroids-era.

Sure, there were players who made hundreds of millions, but those big-name players would have made plenty without steroids.

Selig, on the other hand, was paid $2.5 million in 1998 during The Great Home Run Race That Saved Baseball From Ruin And The World From Communism.

By 2005, he was pulling down $15 million.

Since the day Selig, Stanton Cook and Peter O'Malley engineered a coup, removing Commissioner Fay Vincent and installing Selig as baseball boss in 1992, Selig has collected in the neighborhood of $200 million.

After doing so much to embrace juicing players, and cheering on the most muscular of them all, Selig then sat in front of Congress in 2005 and acted like a man who hadn't heard the word "steroids" until dinner the night before.

Since the embarrassment he suffered in Washington, and specifically since Ryan Braun got off on a technicality in February 2012, Selig has become the Steroids Sheriff, intent on rewriting history and rebuilding his image.

This is now -- it would seem -- about the Hall of Fame.

It has to be the reason he barely nodded at the Joint Drug Agreement and CBA on his way to nailing Alex Rodriguez, who didn't fail a drug test but obviously couldn't pass an IQ test.

Selig couldn't get Rodriguez or any of the others caught up in the Biogenesis scandal without first coercing Tony Bosch and then climbing into bed with a man whose supposed anti-aging clinic was little more than a PEDs dispensary.

Varying reports had MLB promising to remove Bosch and his brother from a civil suit and help mitigate his criminal exposure by informing law enforcement of his cooperation, not to mention paying for his personal security and legal bills -- to the tune of $1.8 million, according to New York magazine -- all in exchange for testifying against Rodriguez and his fellow PEDs users.

When Rodriguez wouldn't pay off Bosch, MLB did.

They gave $100,000 in one hundred-dollar bills to a convicted bank robber for stolen documents, fired the arbitrator who let Braun walk the first time, and finally got a full-season suspension for Rodriguez.

Selig wouldn't testify at the arbitration hearings, but he did go on "60 Minutes" within a day of announcing the Rodriguez decision, spiking the football and dancing over A-Rod's grave like only this commissioner can.

It was a filthy road to travel for Selig, getting his hands dirty as never before, hoping that he comes out cleaner on the other side as he politics for a place in Cooperstown.

Selig has done much good during his time as boss, allowing innovation and improvement, even though it goes against his old-school love for the game.

By staying out of the way in practice while remaining as figurehead in public, often taking bullets for owners who wouldn't stand up themselves, the game has grown in popularity and revenue beyond imagination or expectation.

Still, his attempts to revise history are not likely to work. His legacy seems secure, his place in the annals already carved.

And it's unpalatable to imagine the Steroids Commissioner in the Hall of Fame.

brozner@dailyherald.com

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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