Bud Selig rose Thursday morning with a difficult problem. He had to figure out a way to photocopy a picture of his bare behind and fax it to the owners of the Oakland Athletics and the Oakland City Council without damaging his legacy so close to the end of his term as commissioner of baseball.
He would have Vined it, Instagrammed it or Snapchatted it, of course but technology is something Bud has always admired from afar, and besides, with so many celebrities having fallen for the text-your-junk-and-nobody-will-ever-know scam, he knew that was a non-starter.
But having discovered that yet again the two sides in the We Hate You And We Need You Sweepstakes decided to play chicken with each other, he is coming closer to the realization that he might actually have to soil his hands here and make a decision he so desperately wanted to pawn off on whatever luckless schmuck follows him in office.
So he looks longingly at the Xerox machine as the best way to express his opinion.
By now, it has been well established that Oakland and the A’s are married to each other while not being able to stand the sight of each other, and that both sides have imagined themselves to have the leverage in their negotiations while having none at all. They are, to stretch the analogy, playing chicken with no hen whatsoever, and frankly, we're all sick to death of the very mention of their names. Or their chickens.
In other words, both the A's and the city are trying to put off the day when they have to eat the dog’s business sandwich and pretend that it’s lunch, but the days are running out. They deserve every bit of this, and more besides.
So let’s concentrate on Selig instead. He has had to put the A’s off in their desire to move to San Jose because, and this is the central fact, his other 29 bosses either don’t want that to happen or don’t plan to spend any time caring about it. The owners who actually do move votes either have not been given enough reasons to intercede or have already chosen not to do so with their persistent silence.
That Selig is everyone’s focal point for rage on the issue is therefore laughable. He cannot move owners’ votes on his own, but he is paid to take the heat when it is applied from the outside, so he pretends he is the lawgiver here. That people still fall for it is a tribute to their ability to want to be completely and utterly gulled.
But Selig is legacy-shopping, too, and he wants to be thought of as a genius by historians who haven’t already been bought off with favors and jobs in the MLB empire, so he was hoping this last problem wouldn’t interfere with his victory tour.
Instead, the A’s ownership, which is about as much fun to deal with a case of road rash, and the City Council, which believes in the art of holding its breath until you turn blue, have decided that this is the moment to clash swords and shields one more time over a flimsy 10-week-to-10-year lease that all sides hate and love at the same time.
And unlike most exasperated parents, Selig can’t wheel around and say, “That’s it! I’ve had it! I’m turning the car around!” and driving the A’s back to Philadelphia. Polishing up one’s resume does not, alas, include the power to cheat the time-space continuum.
So as the A’s and the city continue their feckless yet petulant spitting contest, Selig is stuck with the very real possibility of having to poll the owners to see what they want to do about this hot mess rather than lay back in the hammock and let summer wash over him like a comfy blanket, and then actually getting out of the hammock and doing a press conference where he pretends to have made the decision himself.
So he looks longingly at the photocopier and wonders, “Did Winston Churchill ever do this? Did J.P. Morgan? Did Charlemagne? What will Bob Costas say?” Dealing with people who don’t want to deal with each other is a test of leadership, and since commissioners aren’t leaders but pretend to be so, Selig gets dragged in one last time, like Al Pacino in the cinematic crime “The Godfather III.” And he so very much wants to vote his conscience, he truly does.
But sitting bare naked on a Xerox machine and frantically pressing buttons until he finds the one that actually immortalizes his hinder is not something men on the verge of their 80th birthdays ought to be doing.
Unless, of course, he plans to do it while rip-roaring drunk, in which case we absolutely and whole-heartedly support his attempt to master 1970s technology for a good cause, namely permanently scarring the minds of the folks in Oakland who cannot for the life of them figure out how to get a simple deal that they all need done. Listening to John Fisher and Jean Quan scream while clawing at their retinas is, well, worth any amount of Bud's degradation.