Every good story involving a scrappy underdog hero needs a good villain. In 2001, the Minnesota Twins were the scrappy underdogs, not necessarily on the field, but just as a matter of their mere existence. Carl Pohlad and Bud Selig were the villains.
Selig was the perfect villain in all this, seemingly indifferent to other solutions aside from contraction, he leaned on his old ally, Pohlad, and offered a a ransom in order to dispose of the Twins, which Pohlad was eager to accept.
The rumors of the Twins’ imminent demise galvanized the fan base, and they started turning out in droves for a revitalized team, with young players starting to come up through the ranks, from Torii Hunter to Cristian Guzman to AJ Pierzynski and Doug Mientkiewicz. Selig wasn’t going to take the Twins from Minnesota, especially after 10 years of insufferability, not without a fight. Their appeals, in part, bore out a court order that forced the Twins to stay another couple of years in the Metrodome and effectively ended the threat for contraction.
The fans that turned out in response to Selig’s quest to consolidate the league helped turn the team around as much as Terry Ryan and the players he brought forth. There were now butts in seats, and a definite interest. Building a new stadium would indeed be a good investment for the Pohlads, and construction would begin on Target Field a few years later.
The 2001 Twins weren’t the best team that the franchise has ever had, not by far, but they might have been the most important. The invigorated the fan base with their play, and the fans stuck around after ensuring that the team would stick around too. Would that have happened without Bud Selig’s threats? We’ll never know.
Anyways, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame over the weekend. He wasn’t liked by fans, but if you are of the opinion that the Hall of Fame is a museum first and foremost, it’s very difficult to say that Selig didn’t impact the game considerably.