Selig: 'Economic reformation' is proudest achievement

Selig: 'Economic reformation' is proudest achievement

MINNEAPOLIS -- Bud Selig said Tuesday that his proudest achievement as Commissioner of Baseball was reforming baseball's economic structure and thus bringing increased competitive balance to the game.

Selig made these remarks before a meeting of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. This was his 12th annual "State of the Game" appearance before the group.

Selig, who has been Commissioner for nearly 22 years, the second longest tenure of any Commissioner, has said that he will retire in late January 2015.

The Commissioner was asked which part of his legacy gave him the greatest pride.

"I've thought a lot about it," Selig said. "But I guess when all is said and done, the economic reformation of the sport. Because there have been so many manifestations of that -- competitive balance."

Selig has spoken for years about the need for baseball to provide its fans with "hope and faith." He believes that fans are owed a belief that their favorite team can compete.

"You know I really belong in the theory of hope and faith," the Commissioner said. "You've heard me talk about that a lot. There is hope and faith in many places, and as I looked at the standings this morning, we have the best competitive balance we've ever had. And it's led to so many other things.

"[The process of getting revenue sharing] was painful. It was really, really painful. The meetings of the '90s and even into 2001, 2002, 2003. It was really difficult for me.

"When I said in 1992 and 1993 that we were back in the Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds days, the leagues were operating with the same economic formula that they did in the 1940s. Here it was, 50-some years later and nothing had been changed. Stunning.

"And yet, baseball is a social institution. It is very resistant to change. People are really resistant to change even in the local situation, as well as the national. And so to go from no revenue sharing, where disparity is growing just stunningly, to a point where we are today, guess what? Instead of hurting the sport as many in the '90s wrote and said, 'This will kill us, this will destroy the game,' revenues have gone to all-time highs. Asset values of franchises have gone to all-time highs.

"So it didn't work out too badly. But boy, it was a tough process. If there is one thing I focus on, that's it."

On a related topic, Selig said he was pleased with the work of the ownership committee that is searching for the next Commissioner. Selig said he was confident that the committee would finish its work in time for his scheduled retirement to take place.

"This group is doing fine; quiet and thoughtful," Selig said. "I'm very optimistic. It's working just the way I thought it would."

Selig also appeared to open the door for Pete Rose to participate on a limited basis in the 2015 All-Star Game festivities in Cincinnati. Asked about Rose's potential role in the Cincinnati celebration, Selig responded:

"That'll be up to the Cincinnati club, and they know what they can do and they can't do. They've been very good about that. We haven't had that [specific] discussion."

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