Is it crazy to think that right now, Bud Selig can be considered the best commissioner of the major sports leagues in the country? After three weeks of NFL games being officiated by replacement referees and a season in question, it’s absolutely fair to say that Selig is the cream of the crop.
While the rest of the sporting world celebrates over the new deal signed by the owners and the NFLRA, let us not forget the chaos that ensued in the first three weeks of the 2012 season. Missed calls, player injuries, inconsistent flags and longer games were far too commonplace for a professional organization like the NFL. The damage done in three weeks went beyond the imagination of anybody with an opinion on professional football. As a result, the credibility of the league has taken a serious hit that will take years to repair.
In regards to the best commissioner, Selig has charged ahead as the best of the “Big Four” because of the MLB’s ability to stay out of the lockout discussions that have plagued the other three leagues in the last two years. The last lockout in the MLB was in 1994, when the players went on strike and resulted in the loss of the entire postseason.
That was nearly 20 years ago.
While there have been speed bumps along the way, the MLB and its players association have set aside their differences, and got the players on the field for full seasons — which fans care most about.
While the MLB has succeeded in that sense, it’s far from perfect. Umpires still make mistakes, but none anywhere near as glaring and as frequent as we saw in the NFL, and its still a far cry from the officiating in the NBA.
The PED scandal still has a glaring undertone in baseball. But, harder drug testing and higher suspensions have limited the spotlight of steroids, and the sport seems to be separating itself from the “juiced” era of years past.
The NBA, and David Stern, for the moment, would have to rank second in terms of league credibility. For reference, though, if this were a statistical analysis, the drop off from the MLB to NBA would be significant.
A lockout almost cost basketball fans all of the 2011-2012 season, but it was settled when players began losing paychecks. And everyone was thrilled to see Lebron James and the Miami Heat raise the Larry O’Brien trophy at the finals. Ok so maybe not on that aspect of it, but at least there was basketball.
Officiating in the NBA is always under scrutiny, and rightfully so.
“Everyone who loves pro basketball assumes it’s a little fixed,” said Chuck Klosterman in regards to officiating in the NBA. And, looking at some calls in years past, its hard to not agree.
Coming in after the NBA is Roger Goodell and the NFL. It’s hard to believe how after only three weeks of a season, the credibility of a league could take such a dramatic fall. When officials that couldn’t work in the lingerie football league are calling games on the highest stage, there is a big problem on your hands.
Combine the officiating problem with the ongoing lawsuits against the league from former and current players, and the NFL is in big-time trouble. When an ever-growing contingent of your retired players are suing the league for hiding information on head injuries and their effects after retirement, you have a PR nightmare. Regardless of what your stance is on the lawsuit, it still doesn’t look good for Goodell when the the entire players association is against you.
Creeping on to the list — only because there is only one other league on the continent — is the NHL. But, because there isn’t currently a season scheduled because of yet another lockout, Gary Bettman‘s league has zero credibility. Two lockouts in eight years? Might as well wave a white flag. While new talks are scheduled and the issue can hopefully be resolved, it will take more than a contract and some hand-shaking for fans to put their faith back into the NHL.
For each of the commissioners, take a hard look in the mirror. Is your league doing all it can to put the best product out there? The MLB is the closest to a perfect product currently, and it’s absolutely far from it. But the NBA, NFL and MLB are light years away from providing their fans with a high-end, credible league.
Until then, asking what league is the most credible is a clown question, bro.