And on the sixth day, they played.
Bud Selig and his colleagues made the correct decision. Perhaps for the
wrong reasons–because the NFL cancelled–but they made the right decision.
I believe that it was easier for the NFL to cancel its games because its
commissioner and other league officials were in New York City last week, and
had a clearer view on what last week’s attacks did to America’s greatest
city. Being in Milwaukee for quarterly meetings, Selig and company weren’t
as close to the situation, and were more willing, albeit not eager, to get
back to business. Both leagues were under pressure from Washington to play,
and both should be given credit for standing up to that.
I know that I’m not capable of impartial analysis of the decision. I was in
the city on Tuesday. I grew up on Manhattan, lived there for most of my
life, and still identify myself as a New Yorker. There’s a gaping hole in my
hometown, one filled with 5,000 of my own. My family and my closest friends
escaped loss, but we await word of people we know, cops and firefighters
from my old neighborhood who most likely lost their lives saving other New
To play games, to ask people to cheer, to celebrate, against that backdrop
last Friday would have been awkward, even garish. The players, to their
credit, were out front on this, and the combination of their concerns and
logistical problems helped the two leagues make the right call. People spent
the weekend lighting candles, giving blood, donating, volunteering, hugging
their friends and family, praying.
Now, nearly a week later, the scene at the southern tip of Manhattan is no
less garish, but I know that I, personally, feel better for doing all those
other things the last few days. Where I couldn’t fathom watching or writing
about baseball four days ago, I’m now looking forward to it. I don’t pretend
to be a barometer for the rest of the world, so take this with a grain of
salt, but my feeling is that baseball now will be a good thing, something we
can embrace on many levels. As Chris Kahrl puts it, "I know that I
would really, really like to sing the National Anthem amidst 40,000 or so of
my fellow citizens at the game."
To what do we come back? ESPN, bless them, is televising a game tonight,
Bud Smith‘s first start since his no-hitter on Labor Day, as the
Cardinals play the Brewers. The Braves and Phillies get started on a
four-game series that will determine whether we have a race down the stretch
in the NL East. Randy Johnson starts for the Diamondbacks, needing
just 48 strikeouts to break Nolan Ryan‘s single-season record.
Johnson may get an extra start due to the rotation reset, something that
could make a big difference in his chase.
The great NL wild-card race also continues, with the Cards, Dodgers, and
Phillies in action. Four teams–none of them the Padres–are separated by 1
1/2 games, with the Phils 4 1/2 back. Every day from here on out will
feature at least one, and often two or three, big matchups in the National
Finally, I get an occasional e-mail from people who say nice things like,
"You guys are great! If you ever charge for this stuff, I’d gladly pay
for it!" It’s nice to know that we have that kind of support, and right
now, I’d like to call on it.
If you feel that way about Baseball Prospectus, take what you would
pay for this Web site for one year, and donate it to the Red Cross. You can
do it by phone at (800) HELP NOW or on the Internet at
BP thanks you, and New York thanks you.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by
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