Sports Commentary 9/27/15
CONTRASTING BASEBALL RETIREES
Accolades flow this morning for Bud Selig, who yesterday announced next season will be his last as baseball commissioner. He’ll retire in January of 2015, after 22 years years in the job, his tenure second only to the 24 years served by original commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Any similarities in their terms of service ends there. Landis was charged with bringing the game out of a dark era, the era of the “Black Sox” scandal, which also saw the only on field death in the game’s history, when Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was felled by a pitch from Carl Mays. Landis did his job, restoring the public’s faith, with a no nonsense, iron fist approach. Selig was named to succeed the very honorable Fay Vincent, for just that reason, Vincent was too honorable to oversee the kind of business the owners wanted baseball to become. They chose Selig from their own ranks to serve their ranks. He did their bidding well, which is why the accolades are flowing this morning. He gave the owners what they wanted, record profits at any cost. On his watch baseball plunged into it’s darkest era, the legacy of which it will never be able to escape. The owners loved the riches of the ‘steroid era’ and Selig was just the guy they needed, to turn a blind eye. Those riches only fueled a greed that eventually removed the game from the common man, owners charging prices at the ballpark that, with the media billions they pocket each year, are totally unnecessary. But they can’t get enough of the fans money. Selig showed them every underhanded way possible to separate an honest, hard working family guy from his hard earned dollar, and they can all be damned. But Momma Gray always taught me if you can’t say something good about somebody don’t say anything at all. In other words, I’ve already said way too much about Bud Selig. Fortunately baseball has another retiring figure about which a lot of good can be said. Mariano Rivera never did anything but bring honor and glory to the game he served so well for so many years. Every tear that fell last night at Yankee Stadium, from more than 96,000 eyes, was sincere. Not only is he a first ballot hall of famer, he may be the biggest vote getter of all time, because he’s the only player ever to be unanimously viewed as the greatest ever to play his position, the greatest closer who ever lived. His accomplisments on the field are matched by those off. A devoted family man and a great benefactor, through his Mariano Rivera Foundation he serves many charitable causes and the Christian community in his native Panama. Though his records for games saved and games finished are not likely to ever be eclipsed, he has always been humble about his accomplishments, a true team player and a true friend. Godspeed in your retirement, Mariano Rivera. Bud, don’t let the door hit you in the butt. Sorry Momma. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.