"Baseball under Bud Selig's leadership has done in one calendar year what for most people would be a great career," Fox Sports president Ed Goren told SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily in the latest issue. Fox Sports in July committed $1.8 billion to MLB between 2007 and 2013 in one of the new TV deals.
"I've said it time and again: We're in a golden age of baseball, a renaissance," Commissioner Selig said from his Milwaukee office. "We're doing things that nobody thought possible. I've had tremendous support from the clubs and the Players Association, so it's not trite to say that I accept this on behalf of very many people.
"It's kind of funny that I'm getting patted on the back now for the same things that I got ripped for in the 1990s. We've come a long way since then. The labor agreements, for example; we had eight work stoppages and a lot of suspicion and hatred. Now there's peace and quiet. To do what we have done, it took labor peace."
A former winner, NBA commissioner David Stern, agreed with Selig's selection.
"In terms of a combination of putting out fires, defusing crises, building consensus -- including collective-bargaining consensus with ownership -- and growing revenues and the stature of the brand, he has had not only a good year, he has had a good decade," Stern said.
SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, based in Charlotte, N.C., are published by Street & Smith's Sports Group, a division of American City Business Journals, a unit of Advance Publications. They are highly regarded by leading sports, entertainment, advertising, financial, legal and media executives worldwide. An editorial committee from the publications met throughout 2006 to select its Executive of the Year, an award that recognizes accomplishments for the calendar year.
The year got off to a very good start for Selig with the first World Baseball Classic, a World Cup-styled tournament that was won by Japan.
"The WBC was just thrilling to me," Selig said. "Watching those games in San Diego gave me goosebumps. I remember the game between Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, and when David Ortiz hit that home run off Johan Santana, the reaction of the crowd made you think the Red Sox had just won the pennant. It was right then I said to myself, 'This is going to be good,' and it turned out to be a very good thing for our game."
"You have to appreciate [Selig's] list of achievements in 2006," said Abraham Madkour, executive editor at SportsBusiness Journal. "He tirelessly works the phones to build a consensus among owners. He has a very strong management team at Major League Baseball. He delegates effectively and allows a talented staff to do its job. He has become a very strong CEO for the sport."
This year marks the fourth time the publications issued a combined award. Prior to 2003, each publication had a separate award. Previous winners, in addition to Stern, include former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and San Francisco Giants president Peter Magowan.