Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Global Warming Not Fast Enough for Baseball

Not for the first time, Bud Selig made the best of an impossible situation that was his own fault. Mandating that a possible deciding game of the World Series should go a full nine innings come what may was the sporting choice. I'm a Phillies fan, but really, the sight of a mob scene celebration on the infield tarp would have been more humiliating than any loss -- even 1964.

BUT, it need not have come to that. It's the meteorological chalk bet that weather conditions in the northeast U.S. of which Philadelphia is a part will take a decided turn for the worse around Halloween. It's a cinch it will get cold at night. Playing baseball in late October after dark risks making the game a farce. So Selig can't complain about the custard cream pie on his face.

We all know the reason why baseball does this. Television tells it to. Fox pays big bucks, and dictates terms, which have a lot more to do with the ratings for "House" than with the need to present quality competition.

Selling out is as American as apple pie and handguns. Selling out when you don't need to is, however, just sad. Network TV dough is a very small piece of MLB's financial picture, which is a very happy picture these days. The sport is awash in wealth. If the Milwaukee Brewers, Bud's old team and the definition of a small-market franchise, can bid $25 million a year for C.C. Sabathia, then the game is in a position to tell Fox to go hang, and run the World Series to suit itself. SOMEBODY will pay to televise weekend day World Series games. SOMEBODY would pay to broadcast night games that began at 8:05, not 8:37. It'd bring in less money, but not enough to crimp anyone's style, not even Scott Boras' style.

As a legit American big shot, I assume Bud has visited Augusta National Golf Club. He ought to take a tip from the club's school of sports administration. IT runs the Masters, not CBS. And when what the club wants exposes it to financial loss, as it did when advertisers boycotted the Martha Burk Masters, well, the members dig deep and take the hit. It helps that they have more collective wealth than most countries, but it's the principle of thing I admire.

More people would call baseball the National Pastime if the sport acted like one. Respect starts with self-respect, a quality baseball lost around the time Jackie Robinson retired.


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