In the cleanup spot, Bud Selig

Poor Frank McCourt. Things keep getting worse for the Dodgers owner. He and his wife engaged in a messy, public divorce. He ruined one of the best franchises in Major League Baseball with gross mismanagement. He's being sued by his former hairdresser in yet another bizarre and embarrassing twist. And now, just when he thought things couldn't get worse, he has to deal with Bud Selig coming to his rescue.

You know who you don't ever want coming to your rescue? Bud Selig. If you're drowning one day and he wanders by and offers to save you, tell him no thanks and that you can sink to the bottom without him dragging you down even faster. The baseball commissioner has proven adept at making bad situations worse over the years. But we'll get to that shortly.

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In the cleanup spot: Bud Selig, baseball commissioner. With any luck, he'll manage to mess up the Mets for seasons to come.

When MLB recently seized control of the Dodgers and appointed former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer to monitor the organization's business operations and financial situation, the league might have established a precedent that will make Phillies fans and non-New Yorkers giddy. Bloomberg recently ran a piece that quoted David Carter, a sports business expert at USC's Marshall School of Business, that said that MLB's next step will be to fix the Mets and save the franchise from its owners in the wake of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi-scheme scandal.

"Certainly, no one now will say, 'I wonder if Major League Baseball will sit back and let the Mets' situation play itself out,' " Carter told Bloomberg. "I think they're related in that this is all about the financial structure and stability of franchises around the league. Owners are saying we've got an issue with two of our marquee franchises."

If you're confused, you're not alone. Putting "Mets" and "marquee franchises" into the same thought threw me, too.

Anyway, that sound you hear is me crossing my fingers (and toes and arms and eyes) in the hope that Carter is right. The best thing that could happen for baseball fans and New York haters everywhere would be Selig taking over the Mets. Sure, the Mets have played better and recently went on a six-game winning streak, but don't be fooled. The franchise is still a tangle of bad contracts, poor decisions, and debt. If anyone can make matters worse and work the Mets into an even tighter knot, it's Selig.

The first time I watched Selig make a mess of something in person was a few years ago when the Phillies were playing the Rays in Florida during the World Series. There was a medical emergency on site, and EMTs were trying to take someone on a stretcher out of Tropicana Field. To do so, they needed to use the one available and empty elevator. They were denied access by MLB security goons, who informed them that they had been dispatched by the commish to hold the elevator until he arrived. Selig couldn't wait. The person on the stretcher did.

Selig has real talent for that sort of thing. The man is a skilled bungler. How many times over the years has he said things or made decisions that were shocking or strange or counter to what otherwise sane people might expect?

There was his long silence on the steroid issue, which then bled rapidly into his absurd assertion that he was "saddened by these revelations." Because he didn't know players were using performance-

enhancing drugs, you see. He was shocked to find out, and likely even more shocked that no one believed him.

There was his insistence that the Phils and Rays start Game 5 of the World Series despite inclement weather and a forecast that called for a prolonged, end-of-days downpour. Selig lucked out on that one. If the Rays hadn't tied the game, he might have been forced to declare the Phillies the World Series champs after a dissatisfying 41/2-inning rain-soaked debacle.

There was his 2002 All-Star Game improv act when he threw up his hands and declared a tie after the 11th inning. Not long thereafter, he compounded the error and promised that future All-Star Games wouldn't end in ties because he would make a meaningless fan exhibition meaningful by decreeing that the winning league would be given home field advantage in the World Series.

And, of course, there was the time he presided over one of the worst moments in baseball history: Sept. 14, 1994, the day he canceled the playoffs and World Series and thereby tarnished baseball's image for years.

Those are just a few of Selig's many mistakes as commissioner. There are others, lots of them, but you get the gist. Besides, we wouldn't want Selig to become suddenly introspective or hard on himself. We want Bud to keep being Bud, and especially to get his special brand of Bud-ness all over the Mets organization. The resulting and inevitable chaos and destruction if that happened would be, to adopt one of the commissioner's favorite phrases, in the best interests of baseball fans - if not in the best interest of the Mets, or Mets fans. If only wishing made it so.

 


Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or gonzalez@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gonzophilly