Bud Selig has only a few months left as commissioner, which is too bad, because I’m going to miss the comedy, intentional or not, when he’s gone.
Selig was at San Francisco Thursday, the latest stop in a farewell tour that has been to Derek Jeter’s like an opening act to a rock superstar’s. Most fans wait in the lobby while Bud performs.
Selig was asked at a press conference about his sport’s domestic violence policy, and he admitted MLB doesn’t have one. He also resisted the temptation to thank NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for making him look good by comparison.
Bud should have stopped there, but like a slow runner trying to take an extra base, he plodded on.
“We haven’t had any cases I’m happy to say for a long, long time. I can’t remember when the last time was,” Selig said. “I’m grateful for that . . . The only thing I want to say, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are a social institution and I’m proud of our record in dealing with a myriad of subjects, and we deal with them, I think, quite effectively.”
Define “long, long time,” Bud, because there have been more than a couple cases of alleged domestic violence during your tenure.
It would be hard to say whether Bud’s memory is bad or selective, but for an interview he also did Thursday with Giants broadcasters Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow. Selig visits the home-team broadcasters of every city he goes to and he accepts plaudits like Jeter does parting gifts. (In the 10-minute interview, Selig took credit for a top-10 attendance year, keeping the Giants in San Francisco and for the wild-card races, saying there were at least 20 teams in contention because of them. It perhaps never occurred to him that with enough wild cards, maybe the Rangers and Rockies would still have something to play for.)
They were talking about franchises leaving towns, and Selig recalled that Sandy Koufax pitched the last game against the Braves in Milwaukee in 1965 before a crowd in the mid-teens. I looked it up. Sandy Koufax started the last game against the Braves in Milwaukee, and 12,000-plus attended (Selig also said it wasn’t much of a game, and it wasn’t for Koufax, who was knocked out in the third before the Dodgers rallied to win in 10).
Selig’s recall was pretty good on the events of 49 years ago. But he couldn’t remember “any cases for a long, long time?” Not even after sharing the Hall of Fame podium less than two months ago with former Braves manager Bobby Cox, when Selig read the inscription on Cox’s Hall of Fame plaque? Maybe Selig couldn’t remember that Cox was arrested and charged with battery in 1995? Or that he didn’t want to remember?
Both Cox and his wife deny he hit her, and maybe Cox didn’t. Cox admitted he’d been drinking after a game — a longstanding baseball custom the sport also doesn’t have such a great record in dealing with. Cox underwent counseling and charges were dropped. Maybe Selig dropped it from his memory.
But it’s hard to accept that he could have forgotten about the late Kirby Puckett, a Hall of Famer once beloved who was accused by more than one woman of violent behavior or sexual assault.
And it’s hard to believe Brett Myers is beyond Selig’s remembrance, given the outcry after Myers didn’t miss his start in 2006 a day or two after witnesses said he hit his wife on a Boston street. Myers took time off after the start; charges against him were eventually dropped.
Maybe someone should have asked Bud if MLB has a policy on its players and sexual assault, and see if his answer would have changed. Hopefully his memory would have been better, because at least two players have pitched this season after having been accused of rape — one criminally and one civilly.
It was just last month that a judge dismissed charges against Tigers reliever Evan Reed, who spent half the season in the minors, not because of his legal situation but because of his 4.31 ERA. According to reports, the judge questioned the woman’s credibility; Reed said his accuser lied.
Alfredo Simon is still facing a civil suit — authorities declined to press charges — by a woman who says Simon raped her. Simon has won 14 games for the Reds; his lawyer called the charges “totally baseless.”
This is not to criticize MLB for its lack of a policy on domestic violence, short of don’t do it, because what more of a policy is necessary? Or even to suggest whether additional adjudication is necessary; the legal system is responsible for doling out justice, although it sometimes seems its batting average is less than Ben Revere’s. Selig says MLB likes to handle each case on an individual basis, and he’s right about that. Mandatory sentencing isn’t always justice.
But Selig shouldn’t be so smug about MLB’s record. Just because there’s no Ray Rice videotape doesn’t mean it’s more chivalrous than other sports.
There’s a certain irony in Selig’s take, coming as it did in the same week a woman sued the Mets, claiming she was fired because she was pregnant and unmarried. Leigh Castergine was in charge of ticket sales for the Mets, and managed to keep a 71-76 team on pace to attract two million fans. Sounds like she deserved a promotion, not dismissal.
The suit alleges Mets owner Jeff Wilpon said, “I am as morally opposed to putting an e-cigarette sign in my ballpark as I am to Leigh having this baby without being married.”
If Selig wants to convince us of MLB’s sincerity “in dealing with a myriad of subjects … quite effectively,” then he should deal with this one. Find out if Castergine’s charges are true.
I’d like to say that if they’re true, it would be nice to see Castergine take Wilpon’s team from him.
Then again, if they’re true, she’s suffered enough.