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May 8, 2013

EXTRA INNINGS: Law of averages catches up with Selig

OPINION — I’M GOING to punch the letters on my keyboard in a combination that has never been typed together in the 21 years that major league baseball has been under the “leadership” of one Allan Huber "Bud" Selig.

Here goes: Bud Selig has made a great baseball decision.

The 78-year-old Selig became acting commissioner in 1992 and said he would never take the job permanently, then did just that in 1998. That was followed by an extension through 2006, when he said he would retire. He changed his mind again in 2009; after insisting he would retire in 2009, he inked a deal extending his contract through 2012, when he said…oh, well, you get the idea.

The latest extension goes through 2014.

"Done on Dec. 31, 2014. I'll assure you of that," he said.

You’ll forgive us if we’re skeptical.

At any rate, during his tenure, you can count the number of wise decisions Selig has made for our national pastime on one hand, and have at least four digits left over.

Proving that the law of averages guarantees that not every decision will be bad (how about the tied All-Star game, the World Baseball Classic, the Pete Rose fiasco, instant replay, etc., etc., etc.), Selig recently told the Associated Press that major league baseball won’t change its schedule in order to boost chances of getting back into the Olympics.

Baseball was a medal sport for five Olympics from 1992-2008, then dropped for the 2012 games.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge says baseball should make its top athletes available, just as basketball and hockey do.

Rogge’s thinly-veiled blackmail comes just as the IOC board meets this month to select one or more sports for consideration by September's IOC general assembly.

Some have suggested major leaguers could play in the Olympics during an extended All-Star break. Selig was clear that MLB's schedule will not be interrupted, and that weather made an earlier season start or later ending impossible.

"We can't stop our season in August,” Selig told AP editors. “We just can't. You can't say to your fans: `We'll see you in the next period of time. Your club loses some players, but yours doesn't."

"Do I wish I could? Yes," he said. "But is it practical? No."

Those of us who follow major league baseball don’t really care if the game is part of the Olympics. Besides not having baseball leaves for time for other real sports like synchronized flag waving, broom balancing, cannonball carrying, and other such world-wide extravaganzas that cause billions of people to glue their eyeballs to their screens for hours and hours.

Besides, one of Selig’s biggest goofs was his answer to the dropping of baseball as an Olympic event.

In 2006, major league baseball came up with the World Baseball Classic, an artificial international event. The first two tournaments were won by Japan, while the Dominican Republic took this year's title.

Talk about ho-hum, who-cares events!

Many top American anthles didn't play for their particular national team, while some clubs were reluctant to have their players participate in the heart of spring training.

"They just didn't want to take a chance," Selig said. "And frankly, if I were running a club, I wouldn't either."

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is probably out another month due to a wrist injury suffered in a needless event. And Dodgers’ shortstop Hanley Ramirez missed all of April due to a thumb injury which occurred during the “Classic.”

But just to get back on the another-bad-decision track, Selig says baseball will propose expanded video review by umpires for 2014 when owners meet in New York today and tomorrow.

That the current use of instant replay doesn’t work was shown recently when despite the fact that every replay angle showed clearly that Travis Snider had socked a home run, the umpires ruled it a double.

Yet Bud wants more replay. Ah, that’s the Bud Selig I know.

Jim Sankey writes this weekly baseball column for Allied News.

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