WPCNR Press Box. By John Baseball Bailey. July 15, 2002: Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, has added another bungle to his line score as commissioner, in declaring last week’s All-Star Game a tie because the two teams allegedly had no pitchers left.
First the two managers each had one pitcher left. But, the poor babies, they had pitched recently and Joe Torre said he did not want to send Fred Garcia, his pitcher back to Lou Piniella, the Seattle manager with an injury.
As a person who has watched 12 year-olds throw well over 200 pitches in a day in fastpitch softball, I have to say that any pitcher who cannot get it up for one or two innings after having at least two days off doesn’t deserve being on an all-star team.
Second, since when do the managers of any team say they don’t want to “play it out?” Does the game mean so little that you can play three hours and not want to win it?
Third, you have to play it to a conclusion. That’s the way baseball is supposed to be.
This is so typical of the reasoning of persons that run baseball today: the integrity of the game no longer matters
I’ll tell you what Selig should have done.He should have told Torre and Brenly to get someone out on that mound and pitch.
The list of transgressions on the integrity of today’s game with Selig at the helm is long:
1. The Contraction Movement: In order to create an exclusive market for Milwaukee, the franchise Bud Selig’s daughter just happens to own, Selig has spearheaded a movement to eliminate the Minnesota franchise, which just happens to have a contending team: something Selig’s lame management of the Brewers has not been able to create since 1982. Selig also failed to disclose that the owner of the Twins, Carl Pohlad, financed Selig with a $3MM loan. That smells like a conflict of interest to me.
The elimination of Minneapolis-St. Paul as a major league city would be the second time in 50 years that a thriving franchise had been taken away from its loyal fans to serve the interests of owners with a self-interest. Anyone remember the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants who were moved out of New York simply to appease Walter O’Malley?
2. The Sandbagging of Montreal: Selig is also the man who arranged to have major league baseball take over the Montreal franchise, and reward its incompetent owner, Jeff Luria with the Florida Marlins franchise. Has Luria shown astute management of Montreal? No. He has traded off star after star since 1994 when the Expos were contenders and drawing well in the Paris of the North.
This week, Luria is at it again dealing two Marlins stars away when his team still has a shot at the NL East Wild Card. No wonder Miami fans stay away. What a bum.
3. The Rewarding of Huizenga: In a parallel outrage, Selig allowed Wayne Huzienga the erstwhile owner of the Florida Marlins to break up a World Champion in 1997, to save salaries, because it suited the major league owners’ agenda to do so: (i.e., it was too expensive to put together a contending team).
The intriguing parallel is that when Charles O. Finley tried to do the same thing with the old Oakland A’s of the mid-70s, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stopped him. Selig never lifted a finger, because it helped him prove a point that even a multi-millionaire like Huizenga could not afford to keep winning ballplayers. The result of that: Miami fans do not believe in their team, or baseball anymore. They show up in woeful numbers to support a very exciting Marlins team this year. The Huizenga betrayal all too fresh in their minds.
4. The Juicing of the baseball. Tom Seaver, the Hall of Fame Pitcher, proved in a Mets telecast within the last two years, that the baseball is indeed more tightly wound than the baseball of 40 years ago by showing the inside of a 2000 baseball compared to a 1960s baseball. It proved that despite, baseball’s claim the baseball has not been “jacked,” that hitting has been artificially inflated by the juiced baseball.
5. The Shrinking of the Strike Zone. By demanding that umpires shrink the strike zone from belt to knees, it forces more offense into the game, taking away the high strike from the pitcher. The ball right over the plate, belt high is easiest to hit.
6. The Beanball Warning: Pitchers live on the outside corner. When hitters crowd the plate to hit the outside pitch, traditionally pitchers have thrown inside to scare hitters off the plate. They cannot do that now, because umpires warn them about throwing at hitters, with the next inside pitch meaning ejection. Another pitcher weapon taken away.
7. Interleague Play That Means Nothing.We applaud Mr. Selig for championing interleague play, but unfortunately he has not taken the other step: realigned teams in divisions geographically so teams like the Cubs and White Sox, Yanks and Mets, Dodgers Giants, Royals-Cardinals, Marlins, Devil Rays, Rangers, Astros are in the same divisions. This way the interleague meetings would mean more.
8. The Looming Stike: In 1994, the owners took a players’ strike over free agency and salary cap. We lost the World Series, the only time the Series has ever been cancelled. Now, they are about to force the players into another strike over virtually the same demands disguised in two other strategies: contraction and a higher luxury tax on the richer teams. What makes the owners think the players will give in now, especially when the players have already been paid three-quarters of their salaries?
9. The Failure to Support Women’s Softball. The National Basketball Association gained a whole new fanbase by creating the Women’s N.B.A. As a result, millions of women are becoming basketball fans. Does baseball support fastpitch softball, the fast-growing women’s sport as a result of our Olympic success? No. Another example of the failure of Selig and his owners to recognize the opportunity to promote the game to a whole new fan base.
10. Failure to Look at the Whole Game. Just as Torre and Brenly mismanaged their pitching staffs Tuesday evening, creating the “Bud Bungle,” Selig and his fellow owners are not looking long term. They are so wrapped up in their egos and micromanaging their budgets, and in controlling the players, they do not realize the game is being jeopardized.
No one really cares how much the players make, as long as their team wins. No one really pays to see an owner put a terrible team on the field. Clark Griffith and the Carpenter Family who owned the old Washington Senators and Philadelphia Phillies, respectively did this repeatedly for years. No fans came. The argument that teams cannot afford to compete, I do not buy.
You build with scouting and through the draft. How is it that the Twins won Series in 1987 and 1991, if they were in too small a market? How is it that the Kansas City Royals contended for years in the late seventies and early 80s when free agency was just as rampant as it is now? Why did the Yankees never win in the eighties when George Steinbrenner spent millions? It is astute judgment of talent and management of it that builds winners, not just money.