By John Shea @real_johnshea on August 18, 2014
Bud Selig, the ninth Commissioner of MLB, officially assumed office in July of 1998 after serving as Acting Commissioner for the six years prior. Selig, the former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, has left an indelible imprint on America's pastime. His legacy as baseball's lead decision-maker is tarnished to some extent due to the seemingly unavoidable steroid era, but Selig has done a lot of good for a league that was formerly in dire straights.
MLB has expanded from 26 teams to 30 during Selig's tenure as Commissioner. The Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins were first established in 1993. Five years later, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays were born. Selig's devout effort in bringing big league baseball to the nation's biggest markets has spurred sizable economic growth and sustainable prosperity. All four expansion teams have won at least one pennant.
Division realignment in baseball has created more parity throughout both leagues while securing historic rivalries. It has also established new rivalries while enabling small market teams a fair chance of earning postseason bids. Selig's implementation of geographical realignment has decreased excess travel for teams occupying the coasts. It has both added intrigue to annual pennant races and allowed for more logically balanced scheduling.
The 1993 NL pennant race between the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants was instrumental in cultivating league office motivation to enact the Wild Card. In, '93, the Giants won 103 games but failed to earn a postseason bid because the Braves won the top-heavy West Division with a whopping 105 wins. The one-team Wild Card was established in 1994, increasing playoff TV revenue for the league. A second Wild Card was enacted in 2012.
The infamous divide between the MLB Player's Association and franchise owners caused the unthinkable to happen in 1994: the cancellation of the World Series. The ugly dispute was a product of owners refusing to adhere to a previous agreement that would financially contribute to players' pensions. It was the eighth work stoppage in MLB history. Selig's leadership has ultimately provided lasting synergy between players and owners.
Selig will forever be remembered for the immense economic growth that MLB reaped during his tenure. Under Selig, the league has grown by more than 600 percent, according to MLB.com, expanding its net worth from $ 1.2 billion to a whopping $ 7.5 billion in a span of 22 years. Selig's unprecedented ability to maintain labor peace and to create balance between players and owners has ultimately contributed to increased popularity.
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