PITTSBURGH -- Bud Selig's tenure as Major League Baseball's ninth Commissioner will not officially end until Jan. 24, 2015. But as far as he is concerned, his job, at least in one important sense, was accomplished last Oct. 1.
On that day, the Pirates were hosting the Cincinnati Reds in a National League Wild Card Game that turned on a city that had slept through baseball Octobers since 1992 -- Selig's first year in office.
"I got goosebumps watching what was happening. It was something I'll never forget," Selig said on Tuesday, when his farewell tour of MLB stadiums pulled into PNC Park. "The emotion, the excitement ... and it continues now."
The legendary PNC Park Blackout may have enthralled Selig, but he was more thrilled to witness the dramatic evidence of something that had been the foremost mission of his tenure.
"We went through a long period in baseball where we didn't have the kind of competitive balance we needed to have," Selig said. "[The Pirates offer] as dramatic evidence as anything of how this sport has changed, and how we've dealt with and solved our problems. You can't imagine how pleased I am, and I know it will continue -- you've got a very young and talented club."
The economic overhaul spearheaded and overseen by the Commissioner -- highlighted by the introduction of revenue-sharing -- has given more teams than ever before "open faith," as Selig put it.
"It's one thing to change the economics, and another thing to develop talent -- to know how to do it, to have the patience to do it. They deserve a lot of credit," Selig said, with club chairman Bob Nutting and club president Frank Coonelly in the room.
Nutting is on the committee charged with selecting Selig's successor. When time comes for the handoff, Selig will do so with a simple message for Commissioner No. 10: "The sport is as good as it has ever been, by far. So the idea is to keep that going."
Selig's 22 years in office have grown the sport in every way imaginable: teams (from 26 to 30); divisions (four to six); playoffs (Wild Cards); revenue ($1.2 billion to $6 billion-$8 billion) and attendance.
"I think he's done a fantastic job on pushing the game forward, keeping the older generation connected and getting the youngest generation involved," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.