At some point in the future baseballs historians will ponder discuss and disagree upon when the 2012 baseball season began. Some will point to March 28 in a foreign country seven time zones removed from the continental United States. Opponents will disagree and offer as evidence that the game was aired live only by the Mariners network at 3:00 AM PCT and not shown at all by the A’s Comcast Sportsnet.
Further discussion will hover about whether MLB should be entertaining baseball fans in a foreign country at the expense of the fans of the country that gave birth, nurtured like a National Treasure and supported the game for over a hundred years. The answer is absolutely not, especially since the owner of the Mariners for over twenty years, Hiroshi Yamauchi founder of Nintendo, had never seen his own team play. Not even in 2001 when the team won 116 games. Make no mistake about it this was not an effort to globalize baseball, not in a country that has played professional organized ball since 1934, a sum of seventy-seven years. The fans of this country were sold out for money in the form of merchandise sales The effort to squeeze every dollar or yen by Allan Huber Selig knows no limits. Besides don’t we have a globalization abortion of a program known as the World Baseball Classic, wink, wink?
The rest of the opening season included a single game one week later between the Cardinals and Marlins. Upon conclusion of that game the Marlins, who had lost, flew to Cincinnati to face the Reds on day three of the baseball opening day menu which introduced thirteen more teams to the new season. None of whom had to fly overnight to play a day game other than the Marlins, the Marlins were shutout. Day four and the final thirteen teams finally reached the beginning of the 162 game marathon.
The engineer of this madness was MLB whose overseer Selig has left no opportunity to earn his flock a dollar. The beneficiaries of Selig’s zealousness are the owners, the networks, the agents and the players. My failure to mention the baseball fan was not an error on my part.
Call Selig what you will, but do not call him Commissioner. President of Merchandising, CFO, Angel of Death all apply.
The true Commissioners were non baseball men, who along with the two league presidents to oversee the “best interests of baseball and serve as arbitrators of the final say were appointed by the Baseball owners. The positions of League Presidents was eliminated in 1999 by Selig. Kenesaw Mountain Landis was a US District Court Judge who had been appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt when he became the first Commissioner and served 24 years until his death. He was followed by Kentucky Senator ‘Happy’ Chandlerwho resigned his seat in the Senate to accept the appointment as Commissioner. Chandler was the second to serve and the first in my lifetime. Those who followed, Ford Frick, Sports Journalist and NL President. General William Eckert, West Point Graduate and retired AF General. Bowie Kuhn, Attorney. Peter Uberroth, Organizer of the LA Olympics. A. Bartlett Giamatti President of Yale and Fay Vincent, Deputy Commissioner appointed by Giamatti. All were ardent followers of baseball and proved their judgment to be balanced.
In 1992 Fay Vincent received a vote of no confidence by baseball ownership and resigned. Leading ownership was Bud Selig and his followers “The Great Lakes Gang”, the issue was Vincent pointing out to the owners of the distrust of the union created by Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf in the rigging of free agency resulting in the owners being found guilty of collusion and having to pay back 280 M.
“The Union basically doesn’t trust the Ownership because collusion was a $280 million theft by Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf of that money from the players. I mean, they rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that’s polluted labor relations in baseball ever since it happened. I think it’s the reason Fehr has no trust in Selig."-Fay Vincent
The same distrust was present in the 1994-95 strike which eliminated the 1994 postseason, shortened the 1995 season and before the strike was settled introduced “replacement players”. Vincent’s words upon his resignation still resonate today after twenty years.
“To do the job without angering an owner is impossible. I can't make all twenty-eight of my bosses happy. People have told me I'm the last commissioner. If so, it's a sad thing. I hope they [the owners] learn this lesson before too much damage is done.”
I previously suggested that Selig could be called Angel of Death. If you think that was extreme consider that today you still receive free games on television if you pay for cable or one of the dish networks. Otherwise you get no coverage or a handful of games on free television. Major League Baseball will also sell you a package of all games for the entire season for $110 which is less than $20 a month, not a terrible price. Now look down the road to the point where the cable and satellite providers will take their baseball coverage premium and for that same $20 or more you’ll just get your home team. Joe Family Guy who has been priced out of taking the kids to a ballgame will now have to pay to tune in to the team he supported before the Angel of Death killed the National Pastime.