Selig to attend NLDS in Milwaukee
Former Brewers owner proud of innovations to the sport
MILWAUKEE -- When the Brewers play their first home postseason game since Game 5 of the 1982 World Series, Commissioner Bud Selig plans to be in attendance -- just as he was 26 years ago, when he was owner of the Milwaukee franchise.Should the Brewers win on Saturday against the Phillies, Selig said he'd return on Sunday for Game 4. The Phillies lead the best-of-five National League Division Series, 2-0. "I've been gone for a long time," Selig said when reached by phone in his downtown Milwaukee office. "But it is my hometown and I did found the team. So it's a great story. But it's a great story because teams like Milwaukee and Tampa Bay are in the playoffs this year. This was my vision when I took over as Commissioner 15 years ago. And it couldn't have happened in the 1990s, but it's happening now."
Selig headed a group of local investors who purchased the bankrupt expansion Seattle Pilots, renamed them the Brewers and moved them to Milwaukee before the start of the 1970 season. He had made it his quest to bring Major League Baseball back to old County Stadium after the Braves relocated to Atlanta in 1966.When Selig was named interim Commissioner and replaced Fay Vincent in September 1992, he maintained his share of the team and often said he expected his tenure to last only months, not years, while the owners sought a permanent replacement. In 1998, that permanent replacement turned out to be Selig, who at that point put his share of the Brewers into a blind trust. His daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb, ran the team until it was sold to financier Mark Attanasio about two months before the opening of the 2005 season. As Commissioner, Selig tries hard not to show his allegiance to any of the 30 clubs. But he admitted feeling emotional last Sunday when the Brewers defeated the Cubs at home and the Mets lost to the Marlins at Shea Stadium to decide the NL Wild Card berth. Selig was not at Miller Park. He was home on the final Sunday of the regular season watching on television "because I had too many games to worry about." "I did have tears in my eyes at the end, watching the celebration," Selig said about a game in which Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to give the Brewers the 3-1 win. But the tears of joy were mixed with tears of pragmatism. In his first major decision, Selig proposed the Wild Card and three-division format in each league, innovations which were introduced in 1994, but that took full wing with the 1995 postseason. Selig also helped institute an era of collectively bargained revenue sharing, where the higher-revenue teams contribute a percentage of their gross local revenue to be disbursed to the lower-revenue teams. It has helped most for franchises such as Tampa Bay, as the Rays made the playoffs this year with a $43.7 million player payroll, and in Milwaukee, where the Brewers' owners have now begun investing heavily in the team and built a payroll in excess of $90 million. "I was very emotional watching the realities of revenue sharing and the Wild Card work," Selig said. "It happened [in Milwaukee] in the most dramatic way, but also in Tampa and other places. You'll remember I went through a lot of agony about all this in the 1990s. And watching it work so well now is unbelievable. "The playoffs were set up beautifully and, of course, the Wild Card has worked out so extraordinarily well."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.