MLB commissioner Bud Selig presents the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award to Ken Griffey Jr. prior to Game Four of the MLB World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
There's an award out there that Bud Selig can bestow whenever he feels like it. Here's at least one reason why it's noteworthy.
Did you know that there's something called the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award? You're on Baseball Nation, so presumably you spend a fair amount of time reading about baseball. Yet the odds are pretty good you've never heard of it. It's a nebulous thing with a vague definition:
We give this great honor very rarely to people who have had a major impact on the sport
Major impact on the sport. Could be Kevin Costner, could be Tommy John. Could be Pete Rose, could be Fritz Peterson. It's not an annual award, either. Whenever Bud Selig feels all awardy, he picks up a phone and calls a trophy shop. This comes up now because ... :
Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced that Ken Griffey Jr. will be honored with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award. The presentation (was) made at a press conference ... prior to Game Four of the World Series.
At first blush, the cynical mind might think that Griffey is getting the award for a very specific reason, as if the award could just as well be titled The Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award For Players We're Pretty Sure Were Clean And Not Juicing I Mean You Can Never Be Totally Sure But This Guy Checks Out For The Most Part. And if you look at the history of the award, you can understand why that might be an issue. Here's a list of recipients since the award was created:
Mark McGwire (1998)
Sammy Sosa (1998)
Tony Gwynn (2001)
Cal Ripken, Jr. (2001)
Seattle Mariners (2001)
Rickey Henderson (2002)
Barry Bonds (2002)
Roger Clemens (2004)
Ichiro Suzuki (2005)
Roberto Clemente (2006)
Rachael Robinson (2007)
Ken Griffey, Jr. (2011)
Basically, the award was created to capitalize on 1998's Maris-chase-a-mania. And now it can go to anyone or anything -- active players, deceased players, widows of players, and entire teams -- whenever Selig feels like it. For the near future, it will go to people who aren't suspiciously muscular.
So about the title of this article. There has to be a reason why you should care. Is it something about how commissioners are stewards of this great game, and how they should have the ability to point out someone or something that makes baseball special? Is it related to how baseball is now viewed in the Post-Steroid Era, with the award a reminder of just how naive most of us were? Is the award emblematic of how out of touch Selig is, or somehow poignant in its irrelevancy?
Nah. You should care because the trophy looks like a big ol' you-know-what.
That's pretty much the only reason you should care about an award that is basically The Bud Selig Feels Like Giving This Award Award. But, hey, congratulations, Ken. Sweet trophy. And if you're a current or former player who feels like they were given the shaft because they didn't win? Oh, just you wait.