Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Human Rain Delay in a Nice Suit

If the commissioner of baseball did not exist, the Onion would have had to invent him.

After yet another blown call by an ump in Game Five of the ALCS last Thursday night, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that Bud Selig remains adamantly and unalterably opposed to the use instant replay because, and I assume this is a direct quote, "baseball is a game that can't stand interminable delays."

Bud, as nice a guy as you'd ever want to watch a game with, is not high on self-awareness. The fifth game of the ALCS took place after a day off following game four inserted in the schedule by major league baseball, that is, by commissioner Bud Selig. The World Series will start on Wednesday, October 28 and end sometime in November due to decisions made by himself as well. And lest we forget, Selig's main contribution to the 2008 playoffs was to invent the 50 hour rain delay during Game Five of the World Series.

What Selig MEANT to say, of course, was "baseball can't stand delays that television doesn't order us to make." The fact that even distinguished veteran umpires like Tim McClelland are simply melting down in a bizarre mass slump is not a problem, so it doesn't a solution, even if that solution is simple, readily available, and would create far fewer delays than the postseason custom of sending pitching coaches to the mound every time a runner reaches base.

Baseball is perfect. That is baseball's official position on itself and has been so since before Bud Selig was born. All major sports are arrogant, but give the NFL and NASCAR credit. They're willing to tinker with their rules, rightly or wrongly, in the belief that even their splendid selves are capable of self-improvement. Hell, the membership of Augusta National is more capable of looking itself in the mirror than is major league baseball -- at least so far as putting on the Masters is concerned.

All baseball commissioners get paid the big bucks to be front men for the sport's sublimely stupid faith that when it comes to sweating in funny costumes, it is the Chosen One. Bud's JOB is to make an ass of himself in public. Knowing that, I always feel somewhat ambivalent when I ridicule Selig.

Not enough to stop doing it, though.


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