SAN FRANCISCO — The main hall of Building One on Treasure Island is dominated by a grand mural depicting great moments in Pacific naval history.
With that as a backdrop, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig did his best commander-in-chief impression Thursday, claiming and taking credit for the victory over his sport's chemical ills.
He couldn't have been more convincing had he been standing on an aircraft carrier with a "Mission Accomplished" banner waving in the sea breeze.
Funny, we didn't buy that speech either.
In the span of 30 minutes, while acting as the keynote speaker for the annual Fox Sports Net Bay Area baseball luncheon, Selig gave his rose-colored opinion of the game, addressing everything from the state of the game to cocaine, amphetamine and steroid use, and — of course — to Barry Bonds' chase of Hank Aaron's home run record.
Perhaps it's because Selig has spent his entire life in Milwaukee, but some of his statements either didn't make sense, were outright lies, or were left open for interpretation.
For once, I'm going to give the ninth baseball commissioner a break and assume the latter. So as a public service, I took some of Selig's statements — expressed in Milwaukeese — and painstakingly translated them into English and San Franciscan dialects.
What Selig said: "My biggest fear is that people will go to a game and watch with a scintilla of doubt in their mind that the outcome will be affected by people who are doing things they're not supposed to be doing."
In English: "I have triple locks on my doors, I don't sleep well, and I live in constant terror."
In San Franciscan: "Since I have lost all contact with the fans, I can't possibly have any misgivings about what they might think."
What Selig said: "I know there are people who say that because of my relationship with Hank Aaron I don't want the home run record to be broken, and I'm always amused by that. If and when Barry Bonds breaks that record, it will be handled the same way we handle every other record being broken in baseball has been handled."
In English: "I will personally be sending the undersecretary to the assistant commissioner of the Brewers' youth tee-ball league to shake Bonds' hand."
In San Franciscan: "I'd like to introduce my new right-hand man, in charge of Giants' dugout security. How about a warm welcome for Mr. Jeff Gillooly."
What Selig said: "Every decade has had its controversy. Whitey Herzog said two weeks ago ... cocaine was a bigger problem in the 1980s than steroids were in the 1990s. I believe that, from my own personal experience. Whatever you want to say about any of these problems — and I'm not trying to justify any of them in any way — baseball is a mirror of society. Society has its problems, and I hope baseball can take a leadership role in eradicating them. I believe we can, and I believe we have. The important thing is that we took care of these problems."
In English: "Why aren't you asking these questions of David Stern?"
In San Franciscan: "Our new program to combat out-of-wedlock fatherhood among our players includes making wives and girlfriends sit in the same section."
What Selig said: "The Hall of Fame is up to the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and it's not a judgment to be made by the commissioner. If the preceding decades had been perfect, then the decision would be easy. But they weren't perfect."
In English: "I wash my hands of Mark McGwire."
In San Franciscan: "I wash my hands of Barry Bonds."
What Selig said: "The most important part of my job is to protect the integrity of baseball, and I believe it has been protected. We can go back and second-guess, and I do a lot of that myself. But I'm very comfortable with where the sport is."
In English: "I get the best seats in every stadium I visit."
In San Franciscan: "I can't believe I let the All-Star Game end in a tie."
What Selig said: "The first time I was aware of a possible steroids problem in baseball was July 1998."
In English: "I am naive."
In San Franciscan: "I am a liar."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at 578-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.