MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Ever-active Selig shows no signs of slowing

Bauman: Selig shows no signs of slowing

Ever-active Selig shows no signs of slowing
Despite the fact Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig has said he will retire when his current contract expires at the end of 2012, some people who observe him closely believe he may not be ready to slow down.

Some might wonder why there is this sort of conjecture about a man who will be 78 years old at that point. One answer is that the game has prospered on several different levels during Selig's term in office, a tenure now stretching to more than 18 years. But what also makes Selig seem to be a viable candidate to be Commissioner into his 80s is the fact that he keeps himself in the best possible shape.

The latest piece of evidence on that topic came Thursday, when the Commissioner did his strenuous, hour-long exercise routine for the 1,000th straight day. That routine consists of 53 minutes on an exercise bike and seven minutes of exercises. It's a remarkable routine for a man who will be 77 this summer.

"You know I'm well-disciplined," Selig said Thursday, adding with a chuckle: "Although my wife (Sue) says I'm 'obsessive and compulsive.'"

The Commissioner has been riding the bike on a regular basis since 1980, and he has been keeping records on his exercise routine since 1984. He was president of the Milwaukee Brewers at that time, and he got into the regular exercise program at the urging of the team's physician, Paul Jacobs.

"I was smoking Tiparillos at the time, and Dr. Jacobs said: 'We've got to get you into an exercise program,'" Selig said. "'He told me: 'I don't want you running; you'll end up with bad knees, bad ankles, bad feet, bad everything.'"

This was how the exercise biking program was born. To the delight of Selig's friends, and family, and all the denizens of the County Stadium press box, he got rid of the little cigars, and truly got into the exercise program.

The Commissioner has an exercise bike in the basement of his suburban Milwaukee home. He also has a bike in his Arizona home. Obviously, he travels extensively, so the 1,000-day streak has included a lot of mornings spent in hotel exercise facilities. "There have been some difficult circumstances, but I've still managed," he said.

His routine at home is to get the ride in first thing in the morning. "It's not only good for me, but it relaxes me," Selig said. "We're in high-pressure, intense circumstances much of the time. I get on the bike and I turn on the TV and watch the news, the baseball news, the sports news."

The 1,000-day streak evolved on its own. The activity was symbiotic. The Commissioner kept riding the bike because his health allowed it. Riding the bike made his overall health better. The 1,000 straight days became not only a goal, but a logical achievement.

"I'm very proud of it," Selig said. "When I finished exercising (Thursday morning) I was like a little kid."

But here's the thing: He's not stopping now. "I'm going to keep doing this as long as I can," Selig said. "I feel pretty good. I won't break Ripken's streak, but...."

Cal Ripken Jr. played in 2,632 consecutive baseball games from 1982 to 1998. The Commissioner's streak dates back to July 2008. He's more than four years away from 2,632, but doubting Selig's staying power always has been a bad bet. You will recall that he was merely the "interim Commissioner" when he took over in 1992, and now he has the second longest tenure in office of any Commissioner.

When it was suggested to the Commissioner that word of his 1,000-day biking streak would only feed the speculation about his non-retirement, he responded: "I can't help that." And then he said that he was very busy and could not spare any additional time for discussion of this topic.

Anyone objectively observing this Commissioner does not think "76 years old." Riding his exercise bike 1,000 straight days is an extraordinary accomplishment for an extremely busy fellow at any age. But that kind of thing seems more like Bud Selig than 76 years old does.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.