Friday, January 18, 2008
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Major League Baseball owners gave commissioner Bud Selig a three-year contract extension through 2012 on Thursday, a move made two days after some congressmen were critical of his leadership in responding to the sport’s drug problem.
Selig, who has been in charge of MLB since 1992, had repeatedly said since December 2006 that he would retire at the end of 2009 and that his mind couldn’t be changed.
“This is clearly it,” he said after the latest extension was approved in a unanimous vote on the final day of a two-day owners’ meeting. “I could say this without equivocation.”
Earlier this week, Selig and union head Donald Fehr testified before a congressional committee that both criticized baseball for its steroids problem and praised the sport for strides made during the past three years.
Selig’s contract extension drew immediate criticism from Rep. Cliff Stearns, who had called on Selig to resign last month after the Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball was released.
“The explosion in the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs occurred under Selig’s 15-year tenure,” the Florida Republican said. “I have found commissioner Selig’s glacial response to this growing stain on baseball unacceptable and I have called on him to step down. This three-year extension of Selig’s contract is a vote of confidence in his record, which includes taking minimal steps in ridding baseball of these drugs.”
Selig in May will surpass Bowie Kuhn and become baseball’s second-longest-serving leader behind Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who was the first commissioner from 1920-44. Despite previous Selig statements that he intended to retire, many in baseball didn’t believe him.
“I did wrestle with it. I spent a lot of time agonizing over it, mainly with myself,” Selig said. “But they really convinced me.”
Selig said he won’t accept any more extensions — although that is what he said after the previous one.
“Look, when this is over, I’m going to be 78 years old,” Selig said.
Selig became acting commissioner in September 1992, when clubs forced out Fay Vincent. After saying he wouldn’t take the job, Selig was elected to a five-year term as permanent commissioner in 1998 and gave up running the Milwaukee Brewers, the team he bought in 1970 and his family sold in 2005.
Owners voted in November 2001 to extend his term through 2006, then voted in August 2004 to extend it through 2009.