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Fay Vincent Rips Bud Selig for Handling of Game 5 Rain Delay, Barry Bonds

****Check out my podcast on KNX 1070 in LA along with reporter John Ramey as we discuss the World Series****

I’ve already said that there was no clear solution for the problem the rain presented in Game 5 of the World Series. While I agree that suspending the game was the right thing to do, I believe Bud Selig is lying when he says he was planning to suspend the game all along and that he wouldn’t let the game end without all nine innings being played. If that were the case, then why didn’t he stop the game half an hour earlier when conditions were out of hand on the field? One person who believes Selig has bungled matters is none other than former commissioner of MLB, Fay Vincent. As a guest on The Monty Show on Sporting News Radio, Vincent said that one of Bud Selig’s strengths is the way he handles the owners on issues behind the scenes. However, Vincent said exactly what many fans have learned: Selig doesn’t handle on-the-spot moments very well. As he said on the show:

“I agree with those who say that [playing in those conditions] was just too dangerous. It wasn’t baseball that was being played, and for my money it would have been better to have canceled it long ahead of time and come back and play a full nine inning game in better weather. … They weren’t really playing baseball [Monday] night in that weather and I don’t think anybody was getting anything out of it. I think it was unfortunately it was an attempt to get the game in for a variety of reasons — all of which are economic — one regrets that because baseball deserves better.”

It’s much easier to say that when you’re out of the spotlight and don’t have to answer to all the TV execs from FOX and all the advertisers that had millions of dollars on the line, but no doubt Fay Vincent speaks the truth with his statement. Vincent made it a point to say that Selig also screwed up the All-Star Game when it ended in a tie, saying he would have come up with some sort of solution on the spot to determine a winner. Then when he was asked about the way Selig handled the celebration of Barry Bonds becoming the home run king in baseball, Vincent was incredulous at how ambivalent Selig was:

“I would have stayed away and I would have done what he does not do well. I would have articulated publicly why, and people might have disagreed with me, but I would have taken a position. The position was that it looks like he — Bonds — was cheating, and the record is tainted, and he has not come forward and explained and dealt openly with us. He would not cooperate with Mitchell, wouldn’t do anything that baseball wanted, and therefore baseball really can’t give the same recognition it gave Henry Aaron or Cal Ripken. People might have disagreed but I wouldn’t have gone out there and sat with my hands in my pockets. If you’re going to go there to celebrate the achievement, then celebrate the achievement, and if you’re not going to celebrate it then don’t go. And I think Bud tried to do both and I don’t think he came off very well.”

Vincent is dead on about the way Selig handled the Bonds celebration. He really laid out my feelings on the matter — pick a position and stick to it. Either decide you’re going to celebrate the moment or not, and explain why — don’t be ambivalent about the matter — it just makes you look worse. For all the good things Selig does for the game behind the scenes, he really undoes most of them whenever public issues arise and he’s forced to make a tough decision on the spot.


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  • Gene

    Vincent is two for three in my book. He is dead on about Game 5; it should have been postponed. He is dead on about Barry Bonds and his “home run record”.

    However, he is dead wrong about the All Star game. I believe there was a tie in the All Star game prior to Vincent becoming Commissioner (1961). If he found it to be so repugnant, he should have changed the rules while he was in office. The MLB All Star game is an exhibition, played with different rules (a pitcher can only go three innings). Pro football, hockey and basketball already recognize that these games are exhibitions. The AL-NL rivalry stopped having much significance with the advent of free agency and the fluidity with which stars move from one league to the other (Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira, etc.).

    However, if Vincent and Selig did want a result, all they have to do is allow limited free substitution so that a few players could return and the game could go on indefinitely. As I said, as long as pitchers are limited to three innings, it isn’t a real baseball game anyway.