On January 25, A.H. "Bud" Selig will retire after serving 22 years as commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Selig's legacy is as follows:
When baseball needed a strong commissioner, he was the game's nowhere man. When he did act, it was in the best interests of owners -- and not in the best interests of the game and its fans.
Selig's tenure is second only to that of Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who was baseball's first commissioner. Landis was hired to clean up the game after the 1919 Black Sox scandal, when eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the World Series.
In his 24 years as commissioner, Landis was known by some as a capricious, dictatorial, megalomaniac, grandstanding, racist. But he took care of the gambling problem in baseball. He suspended the accused players from baseball for life.
Shortly after becoming commissioner, Selig learned that baseball had a steroid problem. Under Selig's leadership, and because of his leadership, the problem became a scandal.
Selig could have saved baseball from itself. But he did nothing.
As long as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were hitting home runs, and stadium attendance and television ratings were up, and owners were making money, why do anything?
After the game's reputation had been needlessly shredded, Selig acted in what he called the best interests of the game and suspended players who took steroids. If Selig was really interested in the best interests of the game, he would've suspended himself.
The 2011 All-Star Game was scheduled to be played in Phoenix, Ariz., a state that had passed a virulently anti-immigration law, which encouraged racial profiling and harassment of Latinos by requiring them to carry identification and to present it upon demand or risk arrest.
Selig should have moved the All-Star Game. There was precedent for such a move. In 1993, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue moved the Super Bowl out of Arizona after the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King Jr's birthday.
By moving the All-Star game, Selig would've made a statement on behalf of Latino ballplayers -- who comprise nearly 30 percent of all major league players -- and Latino baseball fans that MLB would not tolerate racial discrimination.
But Selig did nothing, giving implicit support for a law that blatantly discriminates against Latinos. Selig could've reached out a hand to Latinos. Instead, he raised his middle finger.
Selig also has ignored younger fans, who have all but given up on baseball.
Professional football and basketball market their respective sports to kids who are learning to drive, voting for the first time, having their first beer, or turning 30.
Studies conclude that half of the television viewers of the World Series were older than 55. The typical baseball fan, therefore, is a white man in his 50s who has recently had -- or is about to have - his first colonoscopy.
Yes, Selig made a lot of money for baseball, the networks and for owners. But, to do so, he mortgaged the game's future. The baseball fan of yesterday is now a basketball or football fan.
Selig's legacy will be like that of Bowie Kuhn, who as commissioner in the '70s and '80s, was a stooge to owners but did nothing for fans. The great sportswriter Red Smith once wrote the following about the ineffectual Kuhn: "An empty car pulled up and Bowie Kuhn got out."
Selig and his empty train will soon leave the station.
It's almost like he was never here.