Bud Selig has rejected pleas to reverse umpire Jim Joyce's bum call that robbed Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game Wednesday. But the commissioner did use the occasion to lament the general state of bipartisanship in America's pastime. "The game's become altogether too partisan," Selig told a reporter. "It seems people are not happy unless one side wins, the other loses."
Selig, writing on his Facebook page, stated, "Whether you're a Tiger or an Indian, surely there's got to be some capacity for us to work together, not agree on everything but at least set aside small differences to get things done. People have to break out of some of the ideological rigidity and gridlock that we've been carrying around for too long."
Just how long has this rigid, ideological partisanship been going on? "At least back to '54 WS game," tweeted Selig. He was referring, of course, to the World Series game between the New York Giants and the same Cleveland club involved in this week's controversy.
"That game in 1954 was a classic win-lose situation," said the commissioner on his blog, SeligAtLarge. "Vic Wertz is at the dish, the game tied at two apiece, the count sitting at two and one. He hits the stuffing out of the ball, at least 420 feet at the old Polo Grounds. Willie Mays makes a spectacular catch. Giant fans go wild. But, ask yourself, what of Cleveland's fans? Do we ever stop to think about what they must have been going through?"
Selig told Matt Lauer on the Today Show that "bipartisanship depends on both teams giving in a little bit," adding he won't hesitate to "condemn obstinacy wherever it crops up."
Later, he told Oprah that "legitimate and genuine differences" can exist between major league ball clubs but that, "Fans are tired of every day being about winning and losing. I realize old habits are hard to break, but I think it's time we set an example for the rest of the country."
In an appearance that evening on Larry King Live, Selig reiterated his plan to convene focus groups of ballplayers, umpires, fans, and concessionaires to review Major League Baseball Rule 9.02 (a). "Just think about its language, Larry," said Selig. He then read from the rule book: "Any umpire's decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions."
"What are you saying?" said Mr. King. "Are you using these 'focus groups' to change this rule?"
"Not the whole thing, necessarily," replied Selig. "But consider the tone of the rule. A judgment call is 'final'? No one may 'object' to a judgment call? You see the problem? This is exactly the kind of un-American language that makes it difficult for people to get along.... What the average fan hopes--what he or she deserves is for all of us, American Leaguers and National Leaguers, ballplayers and umpires, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics."
The next day, speaking to a convention of baseball card traders in Dubuque, he extolled the virtues of bipartisanship. "That large-heartedness--that concern and regard for the plight of others--is not a partisan feeling. It's not an American League or a National League feeling. It is part of the character of MLB--our ability to stand in other people's cleats; a recognition that we are all in this together, and when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand."
Regrettably, Selig's microphone was still live when, to polite applause, he stepped away from the lectern then barked at Frank Robinson, who's been advising him on how to handle baseball's latest controversy: "You tell that a-hole Robert Gibbs if the president signs an executive order reversing Joyce's call, he can stick it where the sun don't shine."
"But what about bipartisanship, Bud?"
"There's a time and a place for everything, Robby."
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