Saturday, December 03, 2005

Every Signature Tells a Story: Face-to-Face With Bud Selig

Miller Park, scene of the confrontation.

If any of this is to make sense, you must remember one thing: I'm not a fan of Bud Selig.

I don't like what he shut down the game in 1994, I don't like that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays exist, I'm still bitter about the 2002 All-Star Game ending in a tie.

In fact, Will's Website,, was created to dispel what we thought were an onslaught on half-truths, un-truths and outright lies spewing from the commissioner's office in the days leading to the labor brawl some five years ago.

And when we weren't seething at Bud, we were mocking him. Hey, it was easy. The hair, the fractured syntax, the ever-present can of Diet Coke -- to the chagrin of Pepsi, one of baseball's main sponsors.

But despite my travels in and around baseball, I had never come face-to-face with the man we held responsible for much our grand game's problems. Then again, it's not like I was actively seeking him out, either.

Before I begin this sordid tale, you must know that it was first told on Baseball Truth, and you can find its original version at Best of the Responsorial archives along with some other fine reading.

Anyway, tracking down Bud wasn't on the agenda when Andrew, my then-11-year-old son, and I made our way to Milwaukee for Father's Day weekend in 2004.

Our plans called for checking out a game at Miller Park, then hitting the awesome Milwaukee Zoo the next day. The city is only about five hours from Grand Rapids, and I've enjoyed my short stays there before.

The ballpark is spectacular, with the famous tailgating, the amazing brats and their secret sauce and the Little League field that is on the site of the Brewers' former home, County Stadium, where Hank Aaron once roamed.

It was also cool because it was an inter-league game against the Minnesota Twins, and Twins fans were out in force.

We snagged tickets in the last row of the reserved seats on the lower level. Behind us was an aisle, then a row of luxury boxes that included a couple rows of seats.

We were having a great time. Then it happened.

Looking around the yard, a guy sitting in the first row of one of the boxes caught my eye. The hair, the was Allan H. Selig himself, otherwise known as "Bud" to friend and foe alike. And we are firmly in the "foe" camp.

This shouldn't have been a surprise. Afterall, we all know that Bud was owner of the team, even while serving as commissioner. But you just don't expect to run into such people.

And there he was. The object of scorn and derision.

The only thing I could think to do was call Will and get instructions on how to take matters into my own hands. This was risky, as Will was in California attending important family business, and I didn't think his sister would appreciate if her walk down the aisle was interupted by Will's cell phone going off and me ranting and raving.

Luckily, it was an opportune time. Will answered, told me to calm down and asked if I was wearing my Executive Game IV T-shirt.

We openly dream that Bud will one day Google himself, see a link to our site, read our rantings, recognize the (many) errors of his ways and see the light -- then give us free tickets to games, since we helped him out so much. This has not happened yet, best that we can tell.

Alas, I was wearing my game-worn, 1994 Brewers Duffy Dyer jersey. Yes, the former Mets catcher was once a Brewers coach. Even while wearing a Brewers jersey I cannot hide my inner-Met.

So I summoned all of my courage, marched up to his box and gestured that I wanted to shake his hand. He leaned over the rail, extended his hand and I was ready ready to unload.

What I meant to say: "Hey Bud. Shouldn't you be busy figuring out why half the players are pumped up bigger than balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade instead of lounging around here in somebody's luxury box? Or are you going to sit back and wait until some more of the game's hallowed records are rendered meaningless while promoting 'roided sluggers to the masses."

What actually came out: " Ah, ah, Mr. Commissioner. Nice to meet you.

Bud: "Hi. Hi Nice to meet you, too."

What I meant to say: "Looks like half of your -- err, your's daughter's -- ballpark is filled with Twins fans. Of course, that wouldn't be the case had you been able to carry out that devious plot you and Polhad cooked up in 2001, something about contracting the team and ruining baseball in yet another fine city."

What actually came out: "Thanks for inter-league play."

Bud: "You're welcome. Thanks for coming."

What I meant to say: "Nice cash cow playground the taxpayers of Wisconsin built for you. You can practically see the darn thing from the Mars Cheese Castle. I'm sure you -- err, your daughter -- is plowing all that new dough back into the team. Hey, are those a bunch of stud free-agents I see out there? Oh, nope. I guess you guys are just pocketing that cash. Hey, didn't I see a tie game here once?"

What I actually said: "This ballpark is AWESOME!"

Bud: "Isn't it beautiful?"

I was in the Bud vortex, even asking him to sign my program. Walking back to my seat, I started thinking...maybe the players are paid too much ...Spider-man ads would have made those drab bases look better...There's nothing wrong with a tie All-Star game when you run out of pitchers...why can't the Mets and Yankees and Cubs and White Sox play a series every month?

Luckily the sausage race started and snapped me back into reality. Who knew that Bud could neutralize me with his charm? The opportunity was lost. He deflected my gripes. The game would continue down it's troubled path.

Will, of course, was both blunt and accurate: I choked like the Braves in the moment of truth!


G-Fafif said...

Spectacular choke job, but spectacular beverage observation. And the Mars Cheese Castle! There's a picture of that place in our photo album from our big Midwestern Swing in the summer of '94: Comiskey Sunday, County Monday, Wrigley Wednesday. Someday, I'll tell you more.

Kissing up to Bud Selig is better than putting up with the Napoleon Dynamite people.

Tony Hartsfield said...

Hey, speaking of cheese, how 'bout a post on Frankenmuth and the giant mouse? I'm sure you can get in a baseball angle.