Tuesday, January 14, 2014
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Al Behrman
Bud Selig is preparing for his final season as commissioner of Major League Baseball.
PHOENIX -- Though many people in his sport are still skeptical, baseball commissioner Bud Selig ESPN.comtold he is "100 percent" committed to retiring in a year, and he even hopes to visit all 30 parks in his final season.
On the eve of baseball's quarterly owners meetings, as he begins what he says will be his final year in office, Selig, who turns 80 years old in July, was adamant that, despite previous instances where he said he'd retire but stayed on, this time there is no turning back.
"It's 100 percent," the commissioner told ESPN.com. "This is definitely it. I'm more comfortable today than I was when I [announced] it in October, if that's possible. Jan. 24, 2015 is it. And I'm very comfortable with that. I'm done."
In fact, Selig said, he would like to spend his last year as commissioner on a Mariano Rivera-type tour of all 30 major-league parks, speaking not with baseball dignitaries but with fans and people who work in his sport behind the scenes.
"I want to talk to season-ticket holders and fans," he said. "I've got a lot of people to thank."
That idea came about, he said, in part because several clubs reached out to him after his announcement and asked to honor him, but also because Rivera's farewell tour got Selig to thinking about ways to connect with people who love baseball.
"I like that," Selig said. "I like talking to people. And .... that's what I want to do: [speak to] season-ticket holders, people who work at ballparks. I just like to walk around and talk to people. I love that. I did that when I ran the Brewers. And I enjoyed it. I miss that. Many people ask me, 'Is there anything you miss [about owning a team]?' And that's it. I really miss all that. I knew every vendor. And you knew what they were thinking, too, because they'll tell you, especially if your team is losing."
Not so long ago, Selig conceded, there would have been a time when he was so unpopular, he couldn't have done anything like this.
"It would have been an ugly experience," he admitted. "If I'd done it in the '90s, I would have needed nine security people, to make sure that I made it out of there."
Selig has served as commissioner since 1992, the first six of those years as an "interim" commissioner. His 22 years in office rank second among all commissioners, only to the 24-year term of Kenesaw "Mountain" Landis from 1920-1944. Selig has been talked, by owners, into staying on after the expiration of several previous contracts, but he dismissed any talk that that will happen again this time.
"I've done this now for a long time, 22 years," the commissioner said. "It will be 23 by that time. Other than Landis, nobody has ever done this job longer. I'm going to be 80 years old next July 30. And I really do want to teach ... and I want to write a book, and I want to do it while, God willing, my health is good and my mind is still reasonably active, although many would disagree with that."
His decision, he said, was not hastened by the Alex Rodriguez controversy, and he decline to answer any questions that pertained to Rodriguez, because of A-Rod's latest lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the Players Association.