Doug Pappas, one of the first and best minds ever applied to the business of baseball, kept a countdown clock at his website, marking the seconds until Bud Selig's term as Commissioner of Major League Baseball ended. To say Pappas did not like Selig's work as the titular head of baseball would be the type of understatement you would rarely catch the outspoken Pappas committing.
Pappas railed constantly against the creative bookkeeping MLB teams committed that allowed them to approach local and state governments with hat in hand, asking for new stadiums and tax breaks, and yet never break into laughter.
Of course, Selig's sins have been numerous: the All-Star tie, the performance enhancing debacle, the Wild Card (a venial sin but a sin nonetheless), the violation of Montreal, threats of contraction, and so on. Worst of all, he canceled the 1994 World Series to punish the players for their labor insolence.
Again: Allan H. "Bud" Selig canceled the 1994 World Series. Never forget.
On the other hand, baseball owners have never been so rich, having extracted nearly every possible dollar out of taxpayers while creating a wildly successful new media venture (MLB Advanced Media) that other leagues are having problems imitating.
The Society for American Baseball Research graciously took over the care and maintenance of Doug Pappas' website when he passed away at age 42 in 2004, keeping the knowledge and the foundations he laid available to the world. They even reset his Selig countdown clock in December 2006 when Selig signed a contract extension through 2009, declaring he would retire at the end of the deal.
SABR should probably consider replacing Pappas' clock with another kind of website upon hearing the news this week that he isn't going anywhere, thank you very much. He signed a new vote of confidence in his moneymaking abilities through 2012, when he will be 78 years young.
No one would be remiss in believing Selig is Commissioner for Life at this point, having promised in the past that each subsequent contract would be his last. The owners have found their milquetoast used car salesman, able to protect their interests at every turn. Of course, many of those turns are blind and ill advised, but ticket sales and television revenue continues to rise, so let the next group of owners deal with it.
Of course, this rant is useless and fairly ridiculous. Why wouldn't the small cabal of antitrust-immune wealth hire an advocate for them? They didn't get to where they are through foolish notions like "for the good of the game", Angelos included. Why shouldn't they protect their interests?
This notion of the commissioner as tireless protector of the national treasure against all threats, foreign and domestic, is fanciful today and apocryphal in history. Not even Kenesaw Mountain Landis, brought in to create the independent commissioner and save baseball from its scandal-ridden self (back when scandals were really scandalous), could claim to be concerned only about the best interest of baseball when he fought the Negro's entry into Major League Baseball until he drew his last.
Unfortunately, one of the people that best fit the fanciful job description above was Doug Pappas. That was not likely to happen while he was with us and certainly won't happen now. No one at Major League Baseball is accepting applications for anyone not named 'Selig', either. (Wendy, sit down.)
Therefore, it's up to all of us to push baseball to continue pushing Selig to do well by the sport. You're tired of Henry Waxman and Bud Selig dancing up and down the aisles of Congress (with George Mitchell as DJ) to no good end? Call your Congressman and tell them to get back to work. You don't like the notion of spending hundreds of millions in tax dollars to enrich a few people and depress an entire area of the city you love? Tell the mayor you'll vote the whole lot of 'em out.