by Kent Sterling
Millions of Americans scrimp to stuff a little cash in a 401K so they don’t need to panhandle in their old age. Soon-to-be former baseball commissioner Bud Selig has no use nor need for a 401K as Major League Baseball is going to pay the 80-year old $6-million each year in perpetuity for being the former commissioner.
“Hard to fathom” doesn’t scratch the surface of my bewilderment upon reading about the Selig retirement pseudo-annuity.
Severance is a simple concept. An executive gets bounced, and because managers have empathy for one another, checks are cut to lessen the blow of separation from a company.
But we are supposed to save for retirement – especially when the guy saying goodbye has “earned” in the neighborhood of $20-million per year for many years, as Selig has.
It’s painful to admit this, but I’m dumb enough that the guilt over being paid $6-million annually for the rest of my life would cause me to refuse the cash. I wouldn’t be able to cash the check. If I ever had a job that paid me $20 million per year – even if my skill set was so unique and impossible to replace that a business would collapse without me – I would never be able to accept it.
I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school by suggesting that Selig’s contributions to baseball reflected only reasonable competence. The expansion of the media caused the explosion of rights fees which led to baseball becoming insanely profitable, not any stroke of genius proffered by Selig.
Right place, right time, lucky guy.
If baseball is so flush with cash it can afford to pay it’s former commissioner $6-million per year to sit at home and ruminate over the questionable implementations of programs like instant replay, the all-star game deciding home field advantage for the World Series, the strange end to the strike-shortened 1994 season, and PED testing and consequences for failure that came a decade too late.
Sometimes we kid about a guy so mediocre at his gig that he should be paid one-third of his salary not to show up for work anymore. Maybe baseball owners saw that as a fun punch line to a mediocre joke with Selig as the only member of the audience laughing.