I don't have much to say about Bud Selig.
Major League Baseball's commissioner since 1992, Selig will officially retire tomorrow. Since taking the biggest job in the sport, Selig has seen a lot of change. The 1994 strike. The wild card. The steroid era. The media mudslinging and congressional hearings following the steroid era. The second wild card. Instant replay. All of these things came under Bud Selig's watch. Good or bad, they happened, and it's hard to argue that baseball isn't more popular now than before Selig took office.
There is one incident that has stuck in the craw of Tigers fans for a while, though. June 2nd, 2010. You know the date. You know why a random Wednesday evening intradivisional game became infamous. Armando Galarraga's perfect game that wasn't is nothing more than a trivia question to most baseball fans. To Tigers fans, it is a microcosm of the entire Bud Selig era.
When Jim Joyce missed what should have been the 27th and final out call of Galarraga's magnificent evening, fans immediately turned to the commissioner's office to set things right. It would have been a nearly unprecedented move for Selig to reverse Joyce's call and award Galarraga a true perfect game. It would have caused ripples throughout the baseball world, particularly with those concerned with the "sanctity" of the game. Umpires had been blowing calls for over a century, and high definition cameras should not cause us to forget everything we hold dear about the sport.
Except they did. A few years later, instant replay made its way into the oldest and stodgiest of American sports. Had Galarraga been pitching to Jason Donald four years later, there would have been little more than an anti-climactic wait for the correct out call to come. Sure, it may have diminished the spectacular on-field celebration to come, but it still would have happened.
Instead, Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga are forever linked in infamy. Joyce received death threats and is still a punch line to Tigers fans despite being one of the best umpires in baseball. Galarraga showed class when he forgave Joyce for his mistake, and the two enjoyed a moment in the limelight beyond that of your typical perfect game story. But his moment in history is largely forgotten. His name won't appear between Roy Halladay's and Philip Humber's in the annals of baseball history.
Selig could have fixed this. It would have rattled some cages, but eventually the scorn would have died down. I can't say that it would have been the "right" decision -- right and wrong don't really apply here -- but it probably would have made more people happy than upset.
It's a small thing in the grand scheme of Selig's tenure. One game. One pitcher. One umpire. But it represents some of the flaws that dogged the commissioner over the past 20 years. Many people are still upset about the 1994 strike and the fallout it caused. The steroid era went on longer than it probably should have, and baseball's ultimate reaction to it was probably much larger than it should have been. Even instant replay and the wild cards are still controversial topics in some circles. Selig was slow to act, and often went overboard when he did.
I'm not saying that he was a bad commissioner. There is too much grey involved in the bad moments, and there are a lot of good things that happened during Selig's reign. I like the second wild card, as it has led a lot more teams to push towards a potential playoff berth. The game is more competitive than ever, and MLB will work out the instant replay kinks some day. The World Baseball Classic is even a fun thing that happens occasionally. Baseball is still baseball, but I think it's a better baseball than it was before.
Maybe it's petty of me and other Tigers fans to wish that Selig would have corrected Joyce's call to give Galarraga the perfect game he deserved. Selig did a lot of great things during his tenure, and this in-decision shouldn't outweigh all that he accomplished. But it's the first thing I thought of when I started to write about Selig's legacy, and it still irks me that he didn't get that one right.