Bud Selig Former Brewers owner and MLB commissioner emeritus Bud Selig throws out the first pitch. The Brewers play the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series baseball game Friday, October 19, 2018 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wis. RICK WOOD/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL Mjs Brewers Brewers20 3 Brewers20

Former ESPN president John Skipper is against a potential partnership between the NFL and the worldwide leader because he sees far too many conflicts of interests. But Skipper is also no stranger to sports league executives looking over the shoulder of ESPN leadership when it comes to coverage. In fact, MLB commissioner Bud Selig would often call Skipper with complaints over the lack of baseball highlights on his favorite morning show, Mike and Mike.

Speaking on an episode of the Sporting Class podcast from his company Meadowlark Media, Skipper detailed those conversations with Selig. While they weren’t infringing on the journalistic independence of ESPN like some may believe, Selig certainly made it clear he disliked the network’s lack of support for baseball.

“I never had anybody call me and say you can’t cover concussions (in the NFL),” Skipper explained. “I had people call me and say, ‘gee, I can’t understand why a good partner is busy running down the league that you want to do well on television.'”

Skipper would respond that ESPN had a responsibility to cover the good and bad of all sports, even their league partners.

“If there was a scandal in baseball, football, basketball or hockey, we covered them all,” Skipper said. “And they all registered their concerns. Bud Selig called me all the time. But the good news was … he faithfully watched Mike and Mike every morning, and he would count highlights.”

Last year, The Athletic reported on how longtime ESPN executive John Walsh fought a losing battle against Jamie Horowitz and others in an effort to get studio and debate shows like First Take to cover smaller sports. Horowitz argued (and carried this banner with him to Fox Sports) that ESPN lost audience when it moved away from football and basketball.

It’s easy to picture an enraged Selig watching Mike and Mike while Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic deconstruct the smallest of NFL debates rather than the AL East pennant race. But that’s just the reality of the sports hierarchy the past decade-plus.

“Bud actually was quite pleasant about it,” Skipper said. “Sometimes he would be mad … but he would get talked down pretty quickly.”

Selig was fighting a losing battle, and he knew it. Will other leagues be so understanding if they purchase a literal stake in the network? It’s too soon to say.

Still, it’s funny to picture the legendary baseball commissioner loyally tuning into the long-running radio show with a paper and pencil, tallying highlights of David Ortiz or Adam Wainright while the hosts read 1-800-Flowers ads in the early morning.

[The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.