Some things never change. Water is wet, the sun rises each morning, and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is staggeringly incompetent.
What we witnessed during the World Series game on Monday night was the latest attempt by baseball to destroy itself. The League, aka King Bud, made the decision to suspend Game 5 in the sixth inning with the score tied at two. The rationale was that playing in the rain makes the game more difficult to play.
And for proof of that, all you had to do was listen to the clueless TV announcer Tim McCarver, who pointed out —about 20 times— that wet playing conditions hurt a team like the Rays because they are such a successful base stealing team. Let’s get this straight. Unless conditions are perfect for each individual team, games should be suspended or even canceled outright? So when Boston is 40 degrees in April, or San Francisco is foggy, we shouldn’t play? Maybe the League should mandate domed stadiums for each team.
But, in a moment of sweet justice, you just have to love what happened right after McCarver arrogantly stated that, with the poor field conditions, there was no way Rays player B.J. Upton would try to steal a base.
He immediately did.
The real reason baseball shouldn’t play in rainy conditions is that balls are being thrown at up to 100 mph, which, for obvious reasons, is incredibly dangerous. But as long as there’s money to be made, Major League Baseball and television networks throw danger to the wind. In this case, literally.
Let’s be honest. Without question, if the Rays hadn’t scored in the sixth inning, there’s no way the League would have stopped the game. From the early innings, rain had been pouring, and the wind gusting. Despite weather radar clearly showing no end, or even a lull, in sight, the game continued. The saturation point on the field had occurred, yet no stoppage order was given. It was more important not having the Series end with a rain-shortened game than ensuring safety.
Such hypocrisy is disgraceful, but unfortunately,that hypocrisy flies right over most people’s heads. Which is welcome news to Selig and Baseball, since it takes them off the hook.
The bottom line is that baseball is in the position to call the shots. It should have told the networks that it was postponing the game— before it ever began. And it should have informed them that, if the conditions weren’t vastly improved the next night, it would do the same thing. The safety of players and fans is simply common sense, but, like most things Baseball has done over the last 15 years, that character trait is nonexistent.
Looking back at all the times Major League Baseball has struck out — allowing the Steroid Era to flourish, the 1994 strike, and allowing the All Star Game to end in a tie — it’s truly a wonder the sport has survived.
Baseball needs to get its head in the game and salvage its reputation. It should start by sending Bud Selig to the showers.
Chris Freind can be reached at [email protected]