As much as people like to destroy Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, you have to give the man credit. It may move at glacial speed sometimes, but Major League Baseball has become a progressive entity. They are the pro sports league with the most stringent drug testing in North America. They are also now the league that enjoys as much parity as anyone. Revenue sharing is a big part of the reason for that and is another example of something Selig pushed for and got accomplished during his time in command.
With his early-1980's wardrobe, his oversized glasses and his awkward conversational style, Selig is an easy target for ridicule. His early years in charge, when the sport cancelled the World Series due to strike and let the steroids bubble grow and then pop, fostered the notion that Selig was in over his head. Ask 100 sports fans whether Selig's tenure as commissioner has been a success, and probably 80 to 85 would laugh at the question and say, 'absolutely not.'
But the data suggests otherwise.
No matter what metric you choose to measure by, the game is in better shape now than it was when Selig started. Attendance is up, popularity is sky-high and revenues are through the roof. Most importantly for any commissioner, there has been labor peace for almost two full decades. Each of the other three major sports leagues have endured an extended work stoppage during that stretch.
The lone complaint I had remaining about Selig's leadership was quelled on Thursday. His rigid stance against instant replay, which had slowly but surely softened over the last 10 years, was finally fully relinquished with the announcement of an expanded review system coming to the game in 2014.
The sport, which had started the ball rolling in this direction in 2008, will implement a new replay system beginning next season. All the details have yet to be finalized, but it appears that at least trap-or-catch and fair-or-foul decisions will be reviewable. The possibility remains that it will be an all-encompassing system from a central location at the league office like they have in the NHL. That will in large part be determined by the three-man subcommittee of Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and John Schuerholz. They will explore baseball options and provide recommendations at the August owners' meetings.
Make no mistake though. None of this would be happening without Selig's green light--which he gave because, honestly, he's a much better leader than anyone gives him credit for.
She may not live in the state anymore but Elena Delle Donne will always be “Delaware’s Daughter.” Maybe the most popular home-grown athlete in First State history, Delle Donne has moved from UD to the forefront of the WNBA. As the second overall pick in last month’s draft, the new face of women’s basketball in the city of Chicago has the weight of huge expectations squarely on her shoulders.
Most assume she is on the verge of dominating the league (and for the record I am of that belief as well) but it is important to remember she is a rookie. There is going to be an adjustment period.
Delaware played at an incredibly high level this past season, but they still spent most of the season playing against mid-major competition. Going from the CAA to playing against the best players in the world on a nightly basis is going to be a tough transition for even a basketball savant like Delle Donne.
Or at least so I thought.
It was only a preseason game, but Delle Donne lit it up in her WNBA debut on Wednesday. She scored a game-high 17 points as the Sky topped the New York Libery in the first exhibition of the season. Delle Donne had 15 in the first half, as Chicago got its first taste of just how unique a talent they are welcoming into their city.
The people of Delaware already knew. She did the same thing in her first unofficial game at UD. In a closed scrimmage, the prodigy dropped 50 points on St. Joe’s. Anyone who had any doubts about how Delle Donne’s game would translate to the next level, got a resounding reminder that she can do almost anything she wants on a basketball court.
Talent like Delle Donne’s is unique. It has been taken to an incredible stage and now that stage will show the world just how phenomenal she can be.