It's long been an axiom that voices of authority, no matter how commanding, eventually lose their oomph. The messages they impart start to get tuned out by the intended audience.
It happens at work. We've all had bosses whose once-inspirational morning monologues, over time, morph into meaningless monotone, a la Charlie Brown's teacher. It happens in sports, too, albeit mostly in the professional realm.
At the lower levels, such as high school or college, the audience is forever changing as the athletes age and move on. The coach who remains in place can employ the same song and dance ad infinitum. In the pros, where even in the free-agent era the rosters and support remain mostly intact for long periods of time, the head man or woman's tactics, techniques, catchphrases and buzzwords get old after five, six, maybe 10 years. At that point, it's time for a change in voice.
As it applies to Major League Baseball, specific to the leadership and voice of Commissioner Bud Selig, that point came and went a long, long time ago.
Like, 10 or 12 years ago.
For some, it happened the minute Uncle Bud shrugged and threw his hands in the air at Miller Park, signaling the end of a 7-7 tie in the 2002 All-Star Game. It was as symbolic a gesture as there's ever been, so perfectly capturing the abject buffoonery with which so many associate Selig's stewardship of our so-called national pastime.
Our national pastime no more, ceremoniously replaced by the behemoth that is the NFL, baseball isn't even our grand old game anymore. To far too many, it's our grandfathers' game. If you're 50 or younger, you haven't seen much grand. You've seen work stoppages, strikes and drug scandals that seem to play on a cosmic loop, only the names and substances varying as time rolls on.
If that ridiculous tie, and Selig's even-more-ridiculous “solution” of awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the team representing the Midsummer Classic's winning league, didn't prompt you to forever tune him out, it probably happened a couple years later.
In 2004, a year after survey testing for steroids was done, no doubt merely confirming the by-then-widespread assumption that MLB was the juiced-out-of-its-gourd WWE in double-knits, Selig introduced the first iteration of a drug-testing program that, in direct response to having been laughed at by organizations that take the whole cheating thing seriously, has evolved and toughened but obviously remained fairly toothless. Or did you miss the Biogenesis news?
Sure, the implementation of said testing was heralded as a giant step forward for the game, and Selig was only too eager to bask in whatever faint praise came from his stable of sycophant cronies in front offices and the media. But if you'd been paying any attention whatsoever, you knew the move to clean up the game was eye wash, nonelective surgery, forced on Selig by people who really DID care more about integrity, fairness and sportsmanship than the devil's dollars.
We didn't need the Mitchell Report to tell us that Selig presided over and, at the very least, tacitly approved of the disgustingly thorough bastardization of the one professional sport to which the common, average-sized everyman could relate.
In the years since, baseball has undergone many changes, some of them good. The wild card, for instance. Good for ball. But in keeping with a well-worn pattern, Selig mucked even that up, adding a second wild card and making a mockery of the postseason.
The World Baseball Classic is a good idea, too, but it's far less than it could be as the result of poor execution in terms of timing and participation rules. If your neighbor has been to Rome within the past 12 years, congratulazioni! You can play for Team Italy!
Replay? Don't even start. The A's stadium situation? Please. His nonanswers Tuesday in Oakland mirrored his legacy — a bad joke at which we long ago stopped laughing. A new voice can't be heard soon enough.