Selig's contract extended through 2012
By Tom Haudricourt
Thursday, Jan 17 2008, 11:16 AM

Bud Selig, who insisted in the past that he planned to leave his post as baseball commissioner when his current term expired in 2009, was extended for three more years this morning in a unanimous vote of team owners in Phoenix.

Selig, who will be 78 when the new extension expires, will have served as commissioner for 20 years at that point, including six in an interim capacity. His contract was extended through 2009 on August 21, 2004, and the Milwaukee native said at the time that he planned to retire at the end of that term.

In December 2006, Selig reiterated his plans to retire in 2009. But owners continued to prod him to leave the door open to an extension.

The timing of the extension is the owners' way of showing their support for Selig despite the recent scandal involving use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Selig appeared before Congress on Tuesday to testify about the Mitchell Report, which he commissioned to investigate past use of steroids and other banned substances in baseball.

Selig and players union chief Don Fehr both accepted responsibility at that hearing for their roles as the game's leaders during what is now know as "The Steroid Era."

The former owner of the Brewers was named interim commissioner on Sept. 9, 1992, two days after Fay Vincent resigned under pressure from ownership. He served in that capacity until being elected on a full-time basis on July 9, 1998, officially becoming the game's ninth commissioner.

Under Selig's guidance, Major League Baseball moved past the disastrous labor strike that resulted in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series into its most prosperous era in history. Selig helped initiate important changes in the game such as revenue sharing, divisional play, the wild-card playoff format, interleague play and awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star Game.

Selig also presided over a building boom of new ballparks throughout the major leagues, including the opening of Miller Park in Milwaukee in 2001. MLB also has pushed to become a global sport, including the first World Baseball Classic being played in the spring of 2006.

Selig also helped lead the game into an unprecedented period of labor peace. On Oct. 24, 2006, owners and the players union agreed on a five-year extension of the Basic Agreement, the longest deal in the game's history. By the end of that deal on Dec. 11, 2011, baseball will have gone 16 years without a strike or lock-out.

With the backing of Congress, Selig also prodded the players union to accept a more-comprehensive drug-testing program in January 2005, including year-round testing and immediate penalties. That policy was further strengthened 10 months later, with amphetamines added to the list of banned substances and suspensions of 50 games, 100 games and a lifetime ban for first, second and third offenses.

MLB has set attendance records in each of the past three seasons, drawing 79.5 million fans in 2007. Total revenue for the sport exceeded $6 billion in 2007, up from $1.2 billion when Selig became interim commissioner in 1992, putting baseball in the same financial stratosphere as the NFL.

I am now convinced he will be Commissioner through 2020.