From the Sidelines: Examining the decision to suspend game five

Published 6:36 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Baseball purists and Philadelphia Phillies fans are livid over the “in-progress” fifth game of the World Series.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has caught more than his fair share of flack over the past two days regarding his decision to play the game against Mother Nature’s wishes.

But in this particular scenario, the criticism of Selig is largely unwarranted. MLB’s leading man has made more than his fair share of mistakes, but the decision to press forward with Monday night’s potential series-deciding game was not one of them. The commissioner, in all of his seemingly infinite folly, took into account the fact that meteorologists anticipated Tuesday, and possibly even Wednesday, boasting worse weather conditions than Monday.

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So he did what any reasonable person in his position would do. He decided to play the game.

And when the conditions reached a point that the game was no longer playable without being comical, Selig stopped the game. After doing so, he stood by his decision. He showed rare conviction when he stepped up to the microphone and expressed his determination that the game should be played in full rather than being rain-shortened as it would have been in the regular season.

So kudos to the commissioner. He needed a win as badly as anyone. His long line of faux pas have included an all-star game that ended in a tie, a 1994 postseason that never happened, replacement players, the Questec experiment, the threat of contraction, out-of-control salaries and the unforgettable steroid era.

In fact, Bud Selig’s comedy of errors has been so colossal that it has more than overshadowed the good things he has accomplished during his tenure as baseball’s first commissioner since Bart Giamatti.

After all, it was Selig who ushered in the wild card playoff spot and the current six-division format. He also oversaw two league expansions that saw the addition of the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays, who are now much less devilish than in previous years.

And, in case anyone is keeping score at home, the Marlins have claimed two World Series titles, the Diamondbacks own one, the Rockies have made an appearance in the Fall Classic and the Rays appear to be on the verge of extending their World Series lives pending the eventual conclusion of the aforementioned suspended game.

So it isn’t exactly like Selig has been completely incompetent during his reign. And shame on the Philadelphia fans that are crying conspiracy.

The argument that Selig waited to call for the suspension of the game until the Rays scored their second run is ludicrous. There are at least 10 other shady scenarios that are far more likely than the biased decision-making of baseball’s favorite scapegoat.

So here they are, counted down as always in true David Letterman fashion.

10. Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard needed time off to go shoot another Subway commercial.

9. Selig wanted to make sure the steroid controversy was not the lasting memory of his regime.

8. Major League Baseball was in desperate need of taking back the conspiracy headlines in the wake of Kimbo Slice’s allegations that his most recent UFC loss was a fix.

7. Tampa Bay season ticket holder Dick Vitale promised to be much less obnoxious in the coming NCAA basketball season if MLB found a way to keep the series alive.

6. It was a fitting commemoration of the 15th anniversary of Joe Carter’s home run that ended the Phillies’ last championship bid.

5. Santa Claus called in a favor to exact his revenge after being booed out of a Philadelphia Eagles’ game decades ago.

4. God wants Tampa Bay to win since they dropped the “devil” out of their name.

3. George W. Bush wanted to make sure the button that sent Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans was still working.

2. Barack Obama’s campaign paid off MLB to keep the series alive as a means of increasing viewership for his 30-minute campaign commercial that will air on Fox and other networks Wednesday night.

1. Pete Rose and Lenny Dykstra placed a six-figure bet that the game would end in a tie after getting a hot tip that the ghost of Bill Cox had struck up a deal with Mother Nature to further sully the reputation of Selig.