Bud: “Doubleheaders not fan friendly”

This could become a regular weekly feature here at Knuckleballs. “Jim Crikket’s Friday rant about Bud Selig”. Nah… that would mean when he says something stupid early in the week, I’d have to wait a few days to rant about it.

Commissioner Selig held his annual meeting with Associated Press Editors (wow, how they must look forward to THAT every year!).  They probably wish he would spread things out and talk to them every couple of months because when it’s just once a year, you have to lump all his nonsense in to one story.

Let’s touch on a couple of items, shall we?

- Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement, made in 1997, remains under review. I laughed when I read that. I really shouldn’t be overly critical because I’m well aware that I have a couple of files in an office drawer that concern unfinished projects dating back to 1997 and probably beyond. But at least I’m not telling anyone those things are still “under review.”

- He is happy with the current video rules for umpires. Well why wouldn’t he be? They clearly worked very well in last year’s Divisional Playoffs… if the intent is to assure that the Yankees get every opportunity possible to avoid losing in the first round of the playoffs. When the choices are, “get it right,” or “get the Yankees to the World Series,” we know where Bud stands.

- Selig talked a bit about HGH. I’m just not really sure what he said. “One can debate what HGH does or doesn’t do. It needs to be banned.” Setting aside that it seems to me like you want to have that debate, if it’s still necessary, before you ban something, would someone mention to Bud that MLB already bans HGH, please? Maybe you should consider testing for it, Mr. Commissioner. “As soon as Dr. Green has finished his study on things, believe me, I’m most anxious to move forward.” (Dr. Green is Bud’s ‘science advisor’… why does a Star Trek image immediately come to mind with Bud as Capt Kirk and Dr Green as Spock?) Apparently the fact that the HGH test already has been validated by the US Anti-Doping Agency isn’t as conclusive as whatever Bud’s science officer…er… advisor is doing. But there’s really no rush, folks, because HGH use isn’t prevalent, right Bud? “The answer is we really don’t know. Most (team athletic trainers) think it’s relatively low, but they really don’t know.” No, fans, that is not a quote from 10 years ago concerning players using steroids… but it sure sounds like it could be, doesn’t it?

- Bud doesn’t see expanding the first round of playoffs from best-of-five to best-of-seven games. “I happen to like five-game series, but I understand. I said to the committee one day if you want to be playing on Thanksgiving Day, we can talk about all these things.” Apparently, Bud would envision teams taking a week or two off BETWEEN those two extra games since adding them would push the end of the season back 3-4 weeks.

As the headline of this post indicates, I’ve saved my favorite for last. The subject of speeding up the games apparently arose in the AP’s discussion with Selig. The AP writer indicates that, “Recommendations to quicken pace of games may not be put in place until the 2011 season. Because this is an era of long games, Selig isn’t sure whether doubleheaders are fan friendly.”

Bud goes on to say, “I’m not sure fans like doubleheaders. I had that feeling, frankly, in running the Brewers many years ago. Maybe you’re still there at 7:30.” He admits that owners have tried split double headers to maintain the revenues for each game, and then adds, “But in terms of doubleheaders, I’m not sure they’re even fan friendly any more.” So owners aren’t interested in doubleheaders because they have to give away gate receipts for one home game, but that really doesn’t matter because getting two games for the price of one isn’t “fan friendly any more” anyway. Whatever you say, Bud.

This gives me the opportunity to tell a story about the last Twins doubleheader I attended. It also allows me to address a side issue, that being the risk of inclement weather causing problems for fans who come from outside the immediate area to attend outdoor games.

As a young man of about 21 years, I came to the Twin Cities in 1977 with a few friends to attend some Twins/Yankees games. It was a four-game series with single games Friday night and Sunday afternoon and a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. I remember nothing about the Friday night game or whether we even went to the Sunday game. But I do remember the doubleheader.

Toward the middle of the first game, it began to rain. By the end of the first game, we knew we were in for a longer-than-normal “intermission” between games. Yes, we made use of the time to have a few extra beers, but after a while, there’s only so much a bunch of guys can do to entertain themselves at a ballpark where no baseball is being played.

So I found a payphone and made a call to a girl I had gone to HS with who had moved to the Twin Cities. We weren’t close friends, but she’d never thrown a drink in my face so, reinforced by several Hamms beers, I called her. She seemed somewhat amused by the idea of me being with a bunch of rain-soaked, beer filled guys stuck at Met Stadium on a Saturday night. In fact, she even took advantage of the opportunity to rub salt in the wounds a bit. She mentioned that she and HER friends were getting ready to head out to a new night club (yes, in 1977, I’m sure she said a “new disco”… stop laughing). Then she suggested that if the second game got cancelled, we should consider meeting them at the club later.

I went back out to talk to my friends who were still sitting in the rain (yes, we really were too stupid to get out of the rain between games). I told them I had talked to a friend and asked the guys if perhaps they’d like to consider meeting half a dozen girls at a club instead of waiting to see if game 2 would get played. Once the alternative sank in to their somewhat clouded minds, it took about 1 second to reach a unanimous verdict. I won’t bore you with the sordid details of the rest of the evening (and most of the following Sunday morning), but suffice to say, we all had a very good time.

I’m not sure what this story has to do with anything, except to point out that doubleheaders were, are and always will be “fan friendly” and that even if you have to deal with a bit of rain at times, it doesn’t mean your night or weekend has to be ruined.

Finally, this last sad note from the AP article.

As you may or may not be aware, Commissioner Selig has stated he does not intend to stay on as Commissioner past the end of his current contract, which expires at the end of 2012. (No, this is NOT the sad news. Keep reading!) When the issue was raised by the AP, Selig said his plans had not changed, but then went on to mention that, when the issue came up recently, his wife commented, “If you believe that, then you believe you just bought the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Damn.

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