Bud’s dudPosted: Monday, October 27, 2008
The business of baseball is not having a great postseason. Bud Selig, insisting on bleeding every dollar out of the Grand Ole Game, capitulates every year to the networks on these 8:22 p.m. and 8:35 p.m. East Coast start times, then — nature be dammed! — allows a rain delay to go on for 1½ hours before the first pitch is thrown at 10:06 p.m. in Philadelphia on Saturday and forces Monday’s Game 5 onto the field through a monsoon. Just postpone the games already!
I finished watching SNL at 1 p.m. the other night only to flip a channel and find a tie game at 4-4 in the 8th inning — at that point, I was rooting for a nice, long extra-inning affair, maybe into sunrise. The Phillies ruined it for me, winning to end Game 3 at 1:47 a.m.
Selig, of course, is always for finding another way to screw the fan, or support his owners in doing so. Ticket prices are skyrocketing, making games are unavailable for anyone but corporate customers. Remember, this is a man who wanted to contract the Twins seven years ago. Instead, baseball continued forward on nearly a decade of parity, with the Twins playoff-competitive nearly every year and contractible teams like the Marlins winning the Series in 2003. Selig’s own Brewers, meanwhile, distinguished themselves by finally making the playoffs this year for the first time since 1982 (they were bounced out in the first round, but hey, great job by the ghosts of Harvey’s Wallbangers).
Meanwhile, the networks are doing their part to squeeze every drop out of the golden goose. Good luck telling your advertisers how many 50- and 60-year-old men were still awake watching the game at 1:15 Sunday morning when your Cialias ads appeared.
(An aside: after this postseason fiasco, don’t even try to give me shit over Obama’s Wednesday night paid commercial delaying the start of a potential Game 6 of the series by a measly 15 minutes.)
The networks can’t even perform the most basic and important aspect of broadcasting the games — actually broadcasting the games. TBS blew its coverage last Saturday night of Game 6 in the American League Championship Series with some sort of “router” problem where viewers missed the game’s first 20 minutes, then didn’t make its spokesman immediately available to the press as the crisis was going on (the flak eventually briefly spoke up, apparently). When the game finally came back on, their announcers were all: “Yeah, our bad. Sorry about that.”
Meanwhile, over on Fox for the World Series, the voices of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are the voices I hear in my nightmares. When I hear them, all I can wonder is how do they fit both of their egos into the same booth?
Buck, McCarver, and Fox’s slo-mo cameras have had no problem criticizing the umpires throughout this series in what used to be accepted as another “human” part of the game (for that matter, neither has anyone else). And good on them — the umpiring has been awful, and the traditionally public-relations-handicapped umpires continue to make arguments easy for instant replay and some sort of computerized camera officiating.
But God forbid McCarver and Buck would ever take the names of Bud Selig or Bob DuPuy in vain and criticize Major League Baseball for making a mockery of the sport in two of the last three games — Saturday’s audience-challenged 10:06 p.m. start and Monday night’s 39-degree downpour-soaked 5½-inning affair with pudddles forming by first and second base. This is not baseball!
The Fox duo danced around it several times, with McCarver noting the “weather has taken the ‘routine’ part of the game out of the game — ground balls are not routine, and fly balls are not routine.” Buck, coming close to criticism, said, “it can’t get much worse than this and have them continue to play baseball.”
Buck then pointed out that in the bottom of the fifth inning, the game was considered “official.” So at that point Selig crossed the Rubicon — the game either had to go on, or he had to cancel it and declare the Phillies the winner and World Series champs (they were leading 2-1 at the time, and, of course, 3 games to 1).
Selig and DuPuy were lucky in the next half-inning when the Rays’ Carlos Peña took them off the hook and saved them from further embarrassment by driving in B.J. Upton to tie the game. The game was “suspended” at the half-inning break. DuPuy, comfortable under an umbrella, came on TV to tell Fox’s Chris Myers and the viewers the decision.
But McCarver and Buck never dropped the hammer of criticism on Bud Selig and Bob DuPuy.
In the last crisis Selig fouled up — the All-Star tied game in Selig’s Milwaukee in 2002 — he came up with the rule of making the winner of the All-Star game determine which league gained home-field advantage in the entirely unrelated World Series. I guess that was an OK rule, and it certainly made the All-Star game marginally less unwatchable.
Watch All-Mini Bud capitulate to the Almighty Buck next year and place two days between the second and third and fifth and sixth games, and maybe a single day off somewhere in the middle of Games 3, 4, and 5. This would make life easier for the networks to schedule their programming, and not force them to shuffle if games had to be pushed out in the seemingly unlikely event that weather actually did force a schedule change.
Either that, or he’s going to force every team to build a retractable dome (at taxpayer expense, I’m sure).
Advertising note: Interesting that, despite the Almighty Buck, the ads for Zach and Mira Make a Porno, had the title shortened simply to Zach and Mira, at least the one I saw between the fifth and sixth innings around 10:22 p.m. on Monday (the equivalent to about the first inning on Saturday). Guess it’s all in the subtly, as in the aforementioned Cialis ads. Either that, or implying sex with average-looking 20-something men is a no-no. But implied sex with aging Baby Boomers? Rock on!