How Bud Selig ruined baseball's opening day
There’s a certain rhythm to the seasons as each year begins.
It starts with the Rose Bowl Game being played under Pasadena’s warm and sunny skies on the first day of the year.
It’s soon followed by the groundhog seeing his shadow, pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, and the swallows returning to Capistrano.
Spring is coming!
And nothing quite says spring as does opening day of a new baseball season.
Thinking of opening day brings thoughts of sunshine, lame excuses to skip work (“Grandma’s Funeral”), and the tradition of fathers taking their sons to the ballpark, as their fathers took them when they were boys.
Cincinnati, the birthplace of professional baseball, used to have the honor of being the lone game on opening day. The good people of that city long ago understood their priorities and shut the schools down on that day, just so kids could go to the ballpark without having to cut class in the process.
No game honors its traditions like baseball.
Or at least it used to.
We have long watched many of the game’s storied traditions kicked to the curb, under the watchful (avaricious) eye of Commissioner Bud $elig, all in his quest to enrich the owners of the sport, and all to the detriment of the fans.
His offenses are many, including, but not limited to … interleague play (which will expand exponentially next season with the inclusion of Houston to the American League) and its inherent competitive unfairness; Sunday night baseball games; the complete abandonment of daytime World Series games; the abolition of doubleheaders; the promotion and inclusion of Frank McCourt as owner of the Dodgers; and the introduction (and now expansion) of rewarding non-division winning teams, aka the Wild Card.
And who can ever forget that 1994 World Series?
Last month the commissioner saw fit to have the baseball season open 10 days ahead of time, in a land far away, in the middle of the night, so far from the spotlight that opening day deserves.
In the name of "growing the brand" of Major League Baseball, Selig took a sackful of Japanese cash and allowed the sport to be degraded and denigrated by having the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s serve as novelty acts when they played a pair of games in Tokyo. A week later, the Mariners and A's replayed the opener again, this time in Oakland. And Friday, guess which two teams are playing in the Mariners home opener? That's right: Seattle and Oakland.
For all that is good and right and virtuous about the game, I say trading away one of its signature events for money is nothing short of a form of prostitution.
And if that is so, that makes the commissioner a pimp.