Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where the baseball events of the last night of the regular season still give us chills.
It’s probably safe to say that when Bud Selig walks away from his role as commissioner someday, the jury will be out as to whether or not he was a good one. At worst, he’s a chief executive with a family stake in one of the league’s teams…what some would call a conflict of interest. He’s presided over some real black eyes for the game, like the 1994 players strike, the Steroid Era, an All-Star Game tie and others. Plus, he’s not exactly Mr. Smooth on camera, often bumbling and awkward when it comes to talking with media and the fans. If this were politics, I don’t think there’s a time he’d have ever had a simple majority of fans give him a positive approval rating.
But there’s one move where, from a PR/marketing standpoint, you’d have to give him an A+: the addition of a wild card. After the events of last week, I don’t think this can be denied any longer. In one night, just minutes apart, some of the highest drama events ever in baseball’s regular season took place. It will go down as one of the great nights for the sport. And none of it would have been possible without the wild card; division battles were settled, and teams were fighting across divisions for that last spot. With that one decision more than 15 years ago, Selig has done as much or more to increase competitive drama in baseball than anyone in its history.
No, I’m not wild about a longer postseason, and the traditionalists might bark about the impact on the game’s records and history. But the intrigue added to the game has far outweighed any of the negatives. It’s helped more teams play meaningful games later in the season. It’s kept fans everywhere plugged into the game and interested through a long regular season, and helped the sport bounce back from a strike, the steroid scandal and other negatives. Not to mention, it’s helped the game sell its stars, its ad space on the networks, its tickets, its merchandise and everything else. Not a bad business decision at all, if you ask me.
I’ve historically been a Selig hater. But on this one, you can’t deny him his day in the sun.
That’s all for now. I’m out, in historic fashion, like the Boston Red Sox.