Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Selig, Goodell Seem to Have Switched Bodies

Remember those 1980s movies where two people switch bodies and hilarity ensues? Well, the 2011 edition of that role reversal just may be Bud Selig and Roger Goodell.

If you look at the Roger Goodell era of the NFL, you know that his legacy is discipling players for their off field transgressions. He has made everyone take concussions seriously. He has kept the NFL on that path of success that the league has ridden for the last 20 years.

Bud Selig? He's best known for cancelling the 1994 World Series due to labor strife. He also has that lovely Steroid Era he presided over (and apparently kept his head in the sand about) which all but made a mockery of those vaunted MLB record books that the league has and will always trumpet. He couldn't even figure out how to solve a tie game in a freakin' All Star Game.

But it is 2011 and it seems as if those two men have switched bodies.

The shine that has been on Roger Goodell has really tarnished over the past six months. He looks more like a hypocrite with each passing week of the current NFL labor mess. His seemingly innocent proposal of extending the regular season to 18 games has been met with overwhelming opposition from players and fans ... and sounds a bit fishy when the league has put so much emphasis on safety that they're willing to look the other way on what another two games would do to their players.

He has taken a very hands-on approach to this labor war ... a war that the owners are losing. This is a man whose "side" said that the last labor agreement was so bad that the NFL couldn't continue like that (the players wanted to keep everything exactly the same). Then, once the players decertified and made this a courtroom drama, Goodell wants to point out all the merits that the last labor agreement gave to both the players and the league. Uh ... way to play both sides of this coin.

Goodell goes on ESPN to tell us how grim the future of the NFL may be. Sorry, but that doesn't work anymore. We, as Americans, are kind of tired of being running multi-billion dollar businesses telling us how bad things are for them. I know we should feel bad for those owners who have to charge us normal folk $8 a beer, $30 to park, $100 for a nosebleed seat in a stadium that our tax dollars paid for. You're barking up the wrong tree here.

This could end bad for Goodell in a lot of fashions. His obvious siding with the owners has really created a divide with a players union that had given up a lot of concessions in his first years in office. Fans have lost faith in him. And if the players win this labor war (which they are right now), the owners will have a big problem with him.

Now let's look at Selig. The man known as "Bumbling Bud" has a league that has had labor peace since that 1994 season. Attendance numbers and TV numbers are up. There is no salary cap in baseball, only the Boston Red Sox (two) has won multiple World Series since 2001. You could argue that the fact that the '94 Series was cancelled led to all this labor peace, but that's a hard sell.

Same thing for the Steroid Era. It really cheated baseball and its fans. But from the ashes of it came extensive drug testing in the majors and minors and it has really worked. It ran several players out of baseball and turned the league into some statistical normalcy.

Controversial innovations like the wildcard, interleague play and the All Star Game determining home field advantage in the World Series are loved now. I mean, how did we go this long living without it?

What could be Selig's biggest coup is how this Dodgers situation unfolds. Remember that Selig bought up the Montreal Expos for next to nothing (in franchise value terms), moved them to Washington DC and then sold the team to local ownership for quite a profit. Just imagine what Selig could get for the Los Angeles Dodgers?

While Goodell and the NBA's David Stern are navigating through tough waters and having their names and their leagues stained, Selig will see Major League Baseball chug along and may not have to share any space on the sports page with football. With both the NFL and NBA facing possible cancellations of games, sports fans in cities that have MLB and NFL and/or NBA teams may decide to spend some of that disposable income on some pennant race tickets.

I know I will.

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