As Usual, Baseball Victim of Double Standard

In a way, the furor over the suspension of Game 5, and indeed the moral outrage over every one of its flaws, is flattering to baseball. People really care about the game -- the history, the way it's played and so on. Even though the NFL has surpassed it in popularity, controversies like these, and the indignation they inspire, are a reminder that baseball holds a special place in the American consciousness.

Look, Bud Selig deserves a tremendous amount of criticism for the way he handled the events of Game 5.

He deserves it because he either made up a rule on the fly that should have already been on the books or because he didn't inform enough people, including apparently the players(!), that every World Series game would go the full nine innings. And he deserves it because he or the umpires should have halted play before the fateful top of the sixth inning.

The problem is that the criticism is going to get way out of hand because bashing Bud Selig and baseball has just about replaced the national pastime as the national pastime.

Selig was dealt a very difficult hand by the elements and there was almost no perfect solution. He had to try to get the game in Monday night. That's indisputable now that Game 5 has been put off for another night. He also couldn't let a World Series game finish before nine innings had been played. Ultimately, he made the right call, even though he went about it in a terrible way.

Everyone is going to have a solution.

It will popular to blame the schedule in some fashion, whether it's the length of the regular season or MLB's near-slavish devotion to the networks broadcasting the postseason games. But is that a Major League Baseball problem?

No, it's a professional sports problem.

The NBA and NHL play 82 games, then spend more than two months crowning a champion. Is it really necessary to have a season that long and then allow more than half of the teams in each league to still compete for a championship in the playoffs? TBS and TNT trumpeted the fact that it would carry 40 games in 40 nights as if it were a good thing, and no one seemed to question it.

The NFL has talked very recently about extending its schedule to 18 games. It takes two weeks off between the championship games and the Super Bowl and yet no one harps on about Roger Goodell being obsessed with money and television hype.

Late start times because of television and fans and league officials being held hostage by network executives are an unfortunate fact of life in every major professional sport. The only problem peculiar and unique to baseball in this entire mess is that baseball can't be played in the rain. There are actually folks out there criticizing the players and officials for that too (if you don't believe me just read the comments section in any of the stories related to Game 5), but that reeks of an agenda.

Baseball is not meant to be played in bad weather. Too much precision is required for the game to be played at even a base level. Too much abrupt stopping and starting is required for there not to be a serious injury risk in damp conditions. But that's not good enough for some of baseball's critics, it never is.

It's unfair, but that is baseball's place in major professional sports. When the World Series goes to a dome, it's an affront to tradition. When it's played outside and it, heaven forbid, rains, everyone clamors for retractable-roof stadiums. When juiced-up monsters break records in baseball, they're hounded by the FBI or dragged in front of Congress. When a player does the same in the NFL, he makes the flipping Pro Bowl. And when baseball sells out to corporate interest and a network's broadcasting schedule, it's an affront to America, even though no one bats an eye when the NFL and NBA do the exact same thing.

MLB FanHouse

As Usual, Baseball Victim of Double Standard originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on 2008-10-28T19:30:00 00:00. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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