Bud Selig: Postseason Punching Bag

The baseball playoffs are in full swing, so obviously it's time for every American sportswriter to point his cursor at Bud Selig. Baseball is flawed! It's too cold! No small markets! The umps stink! You're a bum! And so forth ... ↵

↵Last year, writers crushed Selig for the weather. Delaying a World Series game for two hours before cutting another in half and playing on two separate days did not curry any favor in the media for Selig, as it seemed Mother Nature has a better PR firm than MLB. This year, Selig has already dealt with his share of weather issues. Game Three of the NLDS between the Phillies and Rockies was rightfully postponed due to cold and snow. When Game Three was eventually played, it was in sub-freezing temperatures, which obviously caught the ire of baseball traditionalists. Take it away, USA Today's Game On: ↵

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↵⇥(I)t was mighty cold on a night that was better suited for swinging a sharpened ax at firewood than it was for hacking at sliders in the dirt. ↵⇥

↵⇥This is not how baseball is meant to be played, and more of it surely is on the way. Games at Philadelphia and Yankee Stadium already have resembled wind-tunnel testing. ↵⇥

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↵That USA Today piece linked to an article by David Ramsey from the Colorado Springs Gazette which explained that, "Baseball is designed for the warm, breezy nights of June, July and August. It's the summer game. It's not designed for frosty nights in October," and quoted former Yankee Goose Gossage who said that baseball is, "a very delicate game." ↵

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↵Please. It was cold. It's going to be cold when you play baseball in Colorado in October. You know what the best option would be – make all cold-weather cities have retractable roof stadiums. (Expect this to be a huge issue next year in Minnesota, and another black eye for Selig.) ↵

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↵Does the regular season drag on too long? Sure it does. But the only alternative is shortening the season, and in the last few years, teams have needed all 162 – sometimes even more – to determine division winners. Besides, as sports fans, isn't more baseball, better baseball? ↵

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↵Do the playoffs drag on too long? Sure they do. A seven-game series could be played in eight or nine days, not the 10 the League Championship Series are slated for. And a five-day layoff between rounds is too long when you have your championship scheduled to end in November. Selig's going to keep getting punched on this one. ↵

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↵So too, will Selig get hammered for start times. I wrote about it last week, and was ready to complain about the favorable treatment FOX and the Yankees are getting by putting Game Two of the NLCS, on TBS, on at 4:07 p.m. (1:07 p.m. local start in Los Angeles). But Game Three of the ALCS will be a 4:13 p.m. start in favor of the late game for the NL – going up against football, while the Yankees have no opposition, but I digress. People in Philadelphia were up in arms about two first-round day games. How can people watch the games at work? When Game Three was a 10:07 p.m. ET start, it was clear MLB was screwing fans of the reigning champs. Selig can't win either way. Day games are too early. Night games are too late. Take it away, Tampabay.com's The Point After: ↵

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↵⇥So on Sunday, Angels fans in Anaheim were treated to a 9 a.m. start for their game with the Red Sox. And in Philadelphia, fans had to stay up until 2 o'clock Monday morning to watch the Phillies play Game 3 against the Rockies in 20-degree weather. ↵⇥

↵⇥This isn't just stupid, it is a crime against fans. ↵⇥

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↵⇥(T)he way they do things now is an absolute mockery. The most important time of the season is turned into a money grab that is far more despicable than performance enhancing drugs. At least the drugs make the players better. ↵⇥

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↵How about your crack at it, The News-Herald's Jim Ingraham: ↵

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↵⇥When I was a kid, the World Series games were played during the day. The games were frequently over by the time you got home from school. Now, the World Series games are ending just about the time kids are waking up to go to school. ↵⇥

↵⇥If Major League Baseball was in charge of The Fourth of July, we'd be shooting off fireworks on Feb. 10. ↵⇥

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↵If you took his analogy literally, we'd really only be shooting fireworks off at like 3:30 a.m. on July 5th. But that not withstanding, it's evident that Selig can't do anything right. Take our last example: umpiring. ↵

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↵Selig has been getting crushed this week about the shoddy umpiring in the playoffs. Let's be fair about one thing – every umpire has his own strike zone. It's part of the game and the players know that. But TBS hasn't been doing umps any favors by pitch tracking every single pitch. I don't know if it's a sophisticated algorithm or an intern plotting dots on a chart, but TBS map has not been close to what the live video is showing. But TBS has done a great job of showing how incompetent umpires have been in the field, most notably the blown call down the left-field line by Phil Cuzzi in the Yankees-Twins series. There are at least a dozen other examples of poor umpiring so far this postseason and in just 13 games, that percentage is too high for baseball's liking. ↵

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↵But that doesn't mean we need to institute full instant replay, like nearly every sportswriter in America has been hollering about this week. Cue up the indignation, Jay Mariotti: ↵

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↵⇥(W)hen we do see gripping story lines develop, from a possible Yankees-vs.-Joe Torre matchup in the World Series to the Angels and the inspiration they draw from the late Nick Adenhart, what gets in the way? ↵⇥

↵⇥Wretched umpiring. ↵⇥

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↵Yes, MLB, don't let your wretched umpiring get in the way of Mariotti recycling the same tired baseball storylines for his national column. But just like he called Chase Utley, Mariotti is a 'clever gamer' in his own right. He'll figure out something about which to spew. Oh yes, the wretched umpiring, with lines like, "How dare this umpire try to blame Utley for his own oversight," and "so when history is being altered by human error, isn't it the ultimate no-brainer to expand replay?" ↵

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↵Back and to the left. Back and to the left. What would we do without instant replay? ↵

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↵Mariotti's not the only one, obviously. FOX Sports's Kevin Hench actually went to the JFK well: ↵

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↵⇥You didn't need high definition to suss this one out. Abraham Zapruder's grainy 8mm would have more than sufficed. As would 20-80 vision. ↵
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↵Hench recaps nearly every mistake replay would have corrected this postseason, including a bang-bang play at third in Game One of the Phillies-Rockies series where Yorvit Torreabla was called out on tag up when he was clearly safe – a call that may have prevented a run. What he failed to mention was four innings later when Jimmy Rollins was called out on a bang-bang play at first that, if correctly called safe, would have actually driven in a run. But the Phillies won anyway, so that one, I suppose, didn't matter as much. ↵

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↵The point is, these things do have a way of evening themselves out. Should the calls be right? Of course they should. But what kind of mess would be created if a ball was called foul when it was actually fair and in play, then overturned after the fact? Would runners go back to their bases and we'd replay the at-bat? Would umpire corrections fall under ground rules? And if the umpires knew they had replay that could correct their call, would they become even more gun-shy on bang-bang plays like the ones outlined above. Could it get to a point where umps don't make any call, instead leaving it up to the guy upstairs? ↵

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↵Jonah Keri even suggested in the Wall Street Journal, ironically I think (hope), that MLB could do away with umpires altogether and go with random bits of video, GPS technology and microchips everywhere. ↵

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↵⇥To really get it right, baseball would have to put sensors everywhere—from cleats and gloves to the baseball itself. In addition, any diminution of the role of umpires would have to make it through the umpires union, the World Umpires Association. ↵
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↵We wouldn't want the umpires to strike over, well, being fired. Look, I like replay on home runs and plays at the plate. The rest really should work itself out in the course of a game, and a series. Sure, Joe Mauer's double could have changed things in the Twins-Yankees Game Two. As Steve Phillips pointed out on the ESPN Radio broadcast of that game, Mauer on second would have allowed Mark Teixeira to be playing off the bag and maybe he's in position to field Jason Kubel's hit to right field that would have, in theory, plated Mauer or at least put him on third for the subsequent hit from Michael Cuddyer to do so. And that still doesn't excuse the fact that the Twins had the bases loaded and nobody out and couldn't get a run in. Or the fact that in the next half-inning Jose Mijares served one up to Tex to be a hero. That's not Cuzzi's fault too, is it? ↵

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↵Maybe it's Selig's. We'll have to check the replay. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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