Oct 282008

I know I’m overstepping my bounds a bit as Moderator of this esteemed rock music discussion blog, but I’m pretty steamed about the handling of last night’s suspended World Series Game 5. If I didn’t have a burning desire to see if my team could win the Championship at home I’d write it off as yet another black mark on Commissioner Bud Selig’s reign of error. If I wasn’t finally getting sick of eating a cheesesteak or a hoagie on the day of every Phillies postseason, a ritual that seemed like a good excuse to load up on two of my favorite Philly dishes for a couple of weeks, I believe I’d be merely anxious to see what promises to be the sort of unusual finish that sometimes makes baseball more than what any fan might imagine.

Mother Nature must take her share of the blame, yet who am I to question her ways. The game needed to be suspended, and please be clear: I’m way past my brief homer reaction of thinking that the game should have been suspended a half inning earlier, when the Phils were leading 2-1. I’ve actually managed to think that the situation when the game was suspended will be an advantage to my team’s chances when play resumes.

I do think it should have been suspended sooner, but even that’s not my beef. What has me steamed boils down to the following:

  • A strong perception that Selig and his crew had no clear plan in place in advance for how to handle what might have been coming
  • The fact that Major League Baseball did not publicize its plan, whether it had one in advance or developed one on the fly
  • The fact that it took Major League Baseball until 1:17 EST on a brutal day in Philadelphia to announce that resumption of play would not be tonight but, weather permitting, Wednesday night at 8:37 pm!

In his typically rambling, blame-deflecting midgame press conference, Selig stated that under no terms would the game have been called as an official game with one team winning. As a Phillies fan, I would have accepted the cheapest of ways to win a World Championship, but I wholly agree that the deciding game of the WS should be played to conclusion. What bugged me about this revelation, though, and why it fed into my perception that MLB had no plan in place is that fans had to sit out in that crap for hours with no knowledge that the game would be suspended regardless of its “official” status and the score. The players played through it, presumably with as little knowledge as the fans. This bold, new rule was never announced before or during the game. What was to gain by keeping it under wraps, assuming that this had been discussed before the third inning or so?

Watching at home, speculation over when the game might be called, why it wasn’t called yet, the conditions being faced by the players and fans, and so forth just added to the already annoying loop of babble from announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Had they been informed of Selig’s plan for upholding the integrity of the game, at least they could have passed that information along to us an allowed all viewers, whether braving the elements or in the comfort of their living room or favorite bar, to stop wondering. We could have dealt with it.

Did the umpires know of MLB’s well-considered plan of action and commitment to the integrity of the game? It didn’t seem that way. It seemed like they tiptoed around making decisions about the game and the weather conditions. At least three times play stopped while the ground crew tried to patch up a leaking ship or the Rays’ training staff tried to scrape mud from between Scott Kazmir‘s cleats. Before the final half inning, I think the Fox announcers said Cole Hamels had to wait 30 minutes before throwing a pitch: 30 minutes while rain poured down and muscles contracted! I didn’t realize it was that long, but I guess I was distracted by repeated viewings of that Direct TV ad, with the doctored scene from some Chevy Chase movie. Could anything worthwhile be seen through the ripples in that swimming pool? If a plan to suspend the game regardless of inning completed and score was actually in place and was communicated to the key people involved, why wouldn’t the umpires have called out the ground crew and preserved what was left of the field in case play could resume? If the game is called, no big deal: we’ll all pick up where play left off! No team is going to be cheated out of the full 9 innings.

In his midgame press conference, Selig took great pains to compliment the “outstanding” fans of Philadelphia. He ensured fans of having plenty of time to prepare for a return to Citizens Bank Park for resumption of play. He promised that play would not resume until there were “decent” weather conditions, the kind that would help maintain the game’s integrity. I’ve always felt Bud was a bumbling idiot who had no place running my favorite sport, but he seemed sincere and caring – and deserving of the respect I’ve occasionally tried to give our bumbling, idiotic President over the last 8 years. I didn’t torture myself for long watching local sports commentators express outrage at the Phils having to face that extra half inning. Like I said, I was already beginning to see the silver lining in terms of the possible outcome of the game itself. I went to bed expecting to wake up this morning with a pretty good idea of when play would resume.

As it was, it was more miserable in Philadelphia this morning than it was late last night, when play was suspended. By 9:00 am there was no word on when play might be resumed. By 11:00 am, still no word. By 1:00 pm, only speculation. Could Selig and company not see and feel what anyone in the Philadelphia area was seeing and feeling? Does MLB’s IT department block access to Weather.com? Any attempt at playing again tonight would have been a disaster, but had there been a need for fans to get back to the park and try, try again tonight, would notification sometime in the afternoon of the day of that game have been all the time and consideration Selig promised?

So, weather permitting, play will resume Wednesday at 8:37 pm. This detail is what finally caused me to look up the telephone number of Bud Selig’s office and lodge a polite fan’s complaint with an actual human being on his staff. The 48,000+ fans who dragged themselves down to Citizens Bank Park last night and diligently sat through 3 innings of steady, heavy, cold rain are being asked to return for an 8:37 pm start of the few innings of play? The same parents who made the sacrifice of dragging their kids out in that weather or who let them stay up late on a school night for possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity are asked to return for an even later start time than usual? Is this week’s episode of House really that essential? I’ve pretty much left Fox out of this rant, but don’t think I don’t suspect they have as much to do with the sorry state of postseason baseball and sagging interest in the game as Mr. Selig.

The final 2.5 innings to be played – probably more than enough baseball for the game’s casual and youngest fans – should air at a time that even Spongebob Squarepants devotees can check out. What’s wrong with 8:00 pm EST? A sudden death-paced game at an early hour may work as a great turn-on for the casual and young fans that baseball needs. If West Coast viewers are that interested in catching the final innings of a possible World Championship-clinching game, they can rearrange their plans and leave work early, as fans in teams whose season is still in play have continued doing through October!

If any of this has my fellow baseball fans bugged, I suggest you make a polite call to Bud’s office and leave a message with his assistant regarding your feelings on the handling of last night’s game: (212) 931-7800. No mean stuff, OK?

Finally, a few random thoughts:

  • Mad props to Charlie Manuel and the Phillies players for not granting postgame interviews! Real baseball players don’t take questions from the media in the middle of a game.
  • Will the resumption of play require delivery of a first ball, a new singing of the National Anthem? Is Daryl Hall expected to feel better by tomorrow night?
  • Will the local celebrities know to announce the lineups in the order left when play was suspended?
  • If he hadn’t already gotten injured following his lone appearance in this series, could Cliff Floyd have gotten injured and replaced on the postseason roster during the suspension of play?
  • How weird will the whole “God Bless America”/7th-inning stretch thing be one inning into resumption of play?

  20 Responses to “Bud, This One’s for You”

  1. BigSteve

    Last night’s game should have been called BEFORE it started. If last night’s weather was ok enough to try to get the game in, they should play tonight, because the forecast looks about the same.

    Actually what I wish would happen is a FULL game tomorrow night, not a resumption of the previous game. The fucking world championship should not be decided this way. Part of baseball’s glory is its unpredictability — the whole ‘I’ve never seen that happen before’ factor — but this is ridiculous.

  2. diskojoe

    Mr. Mod, I really feel bad for you, especially since the Phils were on the verge of winning the game & the championship. I haven’t seen such bungling since the 2002 All Star game.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    No need to feel bad for me, Diskojoe: feel bad for The Children!

  4. Am I the only one who’s still totally confused about this? Not even ESPN can seem to get the story straight:

    Where is the game Wednesday night being played? Philadelphia, I”m obviously assuming, but that’s not what ESPN says.

    How have the theoretically two remaining games in Tampa been rescheduled? Thursday and Friday? Something else? Friday and Saturday?

    I do have one answer: apparently the 8:37 time (for a game originally in Tampa) was scheduled because it will follow a one-half hour Obama special on Fox (I don’t get that part either, but there it is).

  5. Mr. Moderator

    I thought they already had a game start extra late for an Obama infomercial. I didn’t realize there was a second one. Thanks for the clarification, Mwall.

    Last I saw the rescheduling of the Tampa Bay games was still TBD. My guess is that at least one of the unions, players or umps, will balk at not getting an off day before switching cities. I’m not joking, although as is often the case, my guess may be wrong!

  6. mockcarr

    It shouldn’t have started. I think if the game doesn’t go five complete innings, or in this case 4 1/2 with the home team leading, it wouldn’t have counted and they’d have had to start over again, wasting the Phillies best pitcher and possibly extending the grudging coverage Fox seems to want to give baseball. It seemed pretty clear if they had stopped it before Tampa got even, the rules would have made it an official game, and that’s how the series would have ended. Naturally, Bud Lite Selig would have been excoriated for this somewhat unfair outcome, so, with the umpires deferring to league officials’ judgement rather than their own (which given the number of blown calls in this series, is the proper attitude), which could ONLY have been that the conditions were unplayable, we get the continuation of play until luckily for them, a tie gives them the opportunity to suspend the game according to the rules.

  7. mockcarr

    Think of what would have happened to Selig if the worst of the storm didn’t hit South Philly, and the game had been postponed due to light rain with a few minutes that are heavier. He’d have looked almost as stupid. I’ll cut him a bit of a break on this one.

  8. hrrundivbakshi

    That Obama thing is part of the Obama campaign’s last-ditch effort to spend as much of their 300 billion dollars they’ve raised as they can in the closing days of the campaign. And, no, that’s not a snarky joke. I for one think it’s a mistake — not that I don’t like the guy, or don’t plan to vote for him, but — well, to me, it’s kind of like having the defendant take the stand when you’re winning the case. Why do it? I’m afraid white America will see a young black guy staring at the camera, Oval Office-stylee, and get freaked out at some deep, weird level.

    So I say: fix this at two separate levels: convince Obama his “get to know me” TV speech is a bad idea, and start the game earlier.


  9. Mr. Moderator

    But Mockcarr, Selig clearly stated AFTER THE GAME that the game was going to be suspended under any circumstances of a stoppage of play, didn’t he? If a 5.5-inning game with the Phils in the lead wouldn’t have been official under the Selig’s new World Series Superpowers, why should a 4-inning game also not count toward suspended play?

    We’re probably on the same sarcastic page, if I’m reading you right. God Bless the Tie!

  10. mockcarr

    I’m reminded of that KC/NY pine tar game where the commissioner gave a fecked-in-the-head interpretation saying the printed rules didn’t apply and Brett’s homer counted. Then Billy Martin sent a bunch of scrubs out in the later replayed ninth inning where Guidry got to play center field. A three inning game could be fun, but maybe Hrrundi will be with me that it will still somehow take three hours!

  11. mockcarr

    You don’t get to suspend anything until it’s “official”.

    But, hell, I’m only a little league umpire.

  12. Mr. Moderator

    *I* don’t get to suspend anything until it’s “official,” but Bud does…in the best interests of the game!

    I agree that tomorrow night’s exhibition/potential WS-clinching game might go for 3 hours. Then the national media could get back to slobbering over the “beautiful design of the game!”

  13. mockcarr

    If I were commish, and FOX $$$ says play the game if at all possible, maybe I hold up my middle finger and say sit and spin, but not Bud, for whom the “best interests of the game’ are 51 percent monetary, no matter how much he loves baseball.

  14. mockcarr

    Mr. Mod, let me tell you that I wore the Phillies cap I got at your lovely little park a few years back on the subway last night, and was asked about the series by a fellow passenger. I grudgingly admitted I was a blatant front-runner and merely picked the most appropriate apparel for the rainy day. Hoever, I tried, as always to be an ambassador for whichever team my head happens to be wearing. I hope it wasn’t my reverse curse that did your boys in since I said it looked pretty good with Hamels starting if they got the game in….

  15. That Obama thing is part of the Obama campaign’s last-ditch effort to spend as much of their 300 billion dollars they’ve raised as they can in the closing days of the campaign. And, no, that’s not a snarky joke. I for one think it’s a mistake — not that I don’t like the guy, or don’t plan to vote for him, but — well, to me, it’s kind of like having the defendant take the stand when you’re winning the case. Why do it? I’m afraid white America will see a young black guy staring at the camera, Oval Office-stylee, and get freaked out at some deep, weird level.

    I think you’re way off here. If the polls are any indication, white Americans across the board (even older ones who have been reluctant to embrace his candidacy) have been moving to his side more and more over the last month. I mean when was the last time a Democratic Presidential candidate had a chance of winning North Dakota, fer crissakes?

    Plus, they’ve already seen plenty of him in the 3 Presidential debates and during the DNC, not to mention his trip overseas and the speech in Berlin being very Presidential, along with other speeches going back to March’s “A More Perfect Union” speech (i.e. the race speech) here in Philly.

    Also, he’s not THAT young. Remember, he’s 47 now, which is older than Bill Clinton’s age in ’92.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to steer this totally towards politics, so I’ll just make a brief comment about last night’s bumbling. I’m with those who think they should’ve just called it (i.e. not played at all) and resumed play whenever this Nor’easter lets up (tomorrow or even Thursday). Yep Selig would get shit on anyway (he deserves it) but at least this way we wouldn’t have this awkward 1/3 game makeup crap with him making up the rules as he goes along, which is infinitely worse IMO.

  16. In pure self interest, I’d think you’d be hoping the series goes 7 hoagies. And, it could even be 8.
    This “game” is going to be huge! Even the most disinterested fan can conjure enthusiasm for 3 1/2 innings. It’ll be over in an hour, and probably be the clinching game. Viewership is going to be big.
    Phillies have such an advantage now. They still get to bat the 6th! So what about the rain now. Much bigger spotlight tomorrow.

  17. Mr. Moderator

    I hear you, Chick. So tell me, should I eat onnly a third of a cheesesteak for lunch today or go whole hog? I’m leaning toward whole hog.

  18. alexmagic

    Obama spending leftover money on a prime time infomercial reminds me of that Dukakis After Dark sketch on Saturday Night Live.

    Hopefully, when Music some day elects a Commissioner, it won’t be someone in the Selig mold. I don’t know if there’s a musician out there who would be that immediately inept.

    If they go tonight, I definitely want to see Hall show up to do God Bless America at the seventh/first inning stretch. Also, Fox could win me back over a little bit after its godawful playoff coverage if, next time Ken Rosenthal appears on screen, they put up an (ACTUAL SIZE) chyron.

    Nah, nothing Fox does could win me back.

  19. Hopefully, when Music some day elects a Commissioner, it won’t be someone in the Selig mold. I don’t know if there’s a musician out there who would be that immediately inept.

    I found out something really interesting this past weekend on this same topic. Apparently, none other than George W. Bush was set to become the new baseball comissioner, but Selig made a huge push for it and got the job instead. This was in ’98 or so, I think. Of course Bush decided to run for President and we all know what happened afterwards. As incompetent as he’s been in every facet of his professional life (including as owner of the Texas Rangers), I can’t help but feel as if he would’ve done an even poorer job than Selig has (if that’s possible; as Mr. Mod pointed out, they’re both kindred spirits in idiocy). Still, I’d prefer him ruining baseball over ruining the country!

    I’m also hoping for a Hall appearance during the 7th inning stretch tonight, FWIW.

  20. BigSteve

    Yeah how short is that Rosenthal guy? The first time I saw him do a post game interview I thought wow I had no idea so&so was that tall. But after seeing him interview a bunch of different players, I’m thinking the guy must literally be less than five feet tall.

    And thanks to alex for introducing me to a new word. I had no idea what a chyron was till I looked it up.

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