SBD/Issue 35/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Selig Reiterates Stance Against Expanding Instant Replay

    Selig Says He Likes The
    Human Element In Baseball
    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, meeting informally with reporters Thursday prior to Game Two of the World Series, maintained his staunch stance against expanding the use of instant replay beyond home run and boundary calls. But he left the door open for more discussion on the subject of aiding umpires. “I understand we had some incidents that were most unfortunate,” Selig said. “I think there are other ways we can make corrections. During the offseason, we’ll review everything. I’ve made my position clear, and by the way, I think it’s the position of most people in baseball. ... I’m not afraid of change, but you have to be very careful when you tamper with the sport. I take this more seriously than anyone will know.” Selig later added, “The more baseball [officials] I talk to [about expanding replay use], there is a lot of trepidation, and I think their trepidation is fair.” This year’s postseason has been afflicted by numerous high-profile umpiring errors, though Selig did praise the performance of the umpires in Game One, particularly on a double play pop-out play initiated by Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Selig added, "Life is changing and I understand that. I do like the human element and I think the human element for the last 130 years has worked pretty well. There have been controversies but there are controversies in every sport" (ESPN.com, 10/29).

    IT'S A MISTAKE: In N.Y., Costello & Greenberg note "another botched call by the umpires" took place during Thursday's Phillies-Yankees Game Two when first base umpire Brian Gorman called Phillies 2B Chase Utley "out on an eighth-inning-ending double play." Replays "showed Utley was safe and the inning should have continued with runners on first and second base." Crew Chief Jerry Davis said it would bother him to have this call lumped with other missed calls "because (it was) very, very close" (N.Y. POST, 10/30). In Philadelphia, Matt Gelb writes two "controversial calls late in Game 2 marred" the Yankees' victory. Gelb also notes by the "end of the seventh, fans at Yankee Stadium were chanting, 'We want replay!'" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/30). ESPN's Mike Greenberg: "The game last night again is marred by two terrible calls, and this is a shame. ... For the umpiring to be as much a part of the story as it is this morning is a shame." ESPN's Buster Olney: "I thought last night was a classic example of why you absolutely need and want instant replay in the game" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN, 10/29). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote it is "confounding to see players and managers and executives pooh-pooh the idea of instant replay when MLB is approaching a dozen missed calls in its most important month of the season." Passan: "It's laughable at this point. It really is" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/30).

    Selig Admits He Hates Playing
    World Series Into November
    STAYING AT 162: Selig again was questioned vigorously Thursday about the postseason schedule and its annual conflict with chilly, rainy fall weather, and acknowledged that complaints about excessive off days in the playoff schedule were “valid.” But Selig said reducing the regular-season schedule is not an option. “If the clubs want to consider going to 154 games, we can reduce that. But they don’t want to do that, unanimously. Big markets, medium markets, small markets. They just don’t want any part of it.” On the layout of the schedule itself, Selig said, “How do you know in the middle of March if they’re going to go three games, four games, five games? How do you know if you’re going to need an East Coast-West Coast travel day? People say, ‘Do you hate going into November?’ Yeah, of course I do. Nobody worries about the weather more than I do" (Fisher). Selig facetiously said, "I'm going to do the schedule myself next year. Next year, when you have a complaint, you can complain to me. But it's tough" (MLB.com, 10/29). A USA TODAY editorial states because of the "demands of TV and the owners' desire to rake in as much money as possible," the World Series would end on November 5 if it goes seven games. MLB for years "ended its World Series in early to mid-October," but the postseason has strayed "far from tradition." The editorial: "Just about every time Major League Baseball had a choice between a tighter postseason schedule and more lucrative TV contracts, it chose the latter" (USA TODAY, 10/30).

    OTHER TOPICS: Selig was enthused at Thursday’s news of an 11.9 fast national rating for Game One, the best Series-opening mark since '04. “It’s remarkable. But our ratings have been good throughout the postseason.” Selig also reiterated his desire to see daytime World Series games, but added he did not know how or when that could be done. He did praise Fox, however, for agreeing to roll back most of the game start times to 7:57pm ET. Meanwhile, the return of Mark McGwire to the Cardinals as hitting coach brought more plaudits from Selig for the embattled slugger, with whom he has held a long friendship. When questioned about McGwire, Selig took the opportunity to reiterate the game’s ongoing work in drug testing and steroid-use prevention. “When he comes back, you will all have a lot of opportunities to talk to him. The fact that he’s coming back gives you an opportunity you wouldn’t have had. Think about that" (Fisher).

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  • Is Presence Of Bad Teams A Sign NFL Parity A Thing Of The Past?

    Parity Not On Display This NFL Season
    The NFL's "decades-long effort to produce equality on the playing field is dead and buried," according to Cold Hard Football Facts' Kerry Byrne in a special to SI.com. Instead of parity, what the league "has these days is something much more frightening: the NFL has a crisis of competition." Byrne listed "six signs that parity is dead" -- the "frightening pace of blowouts;" "last-second thrills and chills are hard to find;" the "horrifying divide in the standings;" the "gruesome disparity on the scoreboard," the "bloodbath on the stat sheets;" and the "haunting specter of elite powers" (SI.com, 10/28). In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes for a league that "prides itself on its level playing field, the divide between the best and worst teams couldn't be greater." The NFL has "weakened in recent years, confirming its greatest asset is a marketing machine that sells mediocrity or worse" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/30). In L.A., Sam Farmer writes while it is "clear the league has some very good teams this season," it has "many more bad ones" (L.A. TIMES, 10/30). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Naylor writes four teams -- the Steelers, Patriots, Eagles and Colts -- have had a "remarkable run of dominance over the past decade." Naylor: "In other words, the lack of parity this NFL season isn't as highly unusual as some think" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/30). But in Detroit, John Niyo wrote while it is "easy to say the parity party in pro football is over," it is "probably too easy." Niyo: "After all, we're only eight months removed from Arizona making a Super Bowl appearance" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/29).

    GROWING CONCERN? CBS' Phil Simms said the lack of parity in the NFL is a "cause for concern." He added of the disparity between teams, "You've got to pick the right coach, it's about making the right personnel decisions and more now than ever: money." NBC's Cris Collinsworth said stadium deals are "starting to create a little bit of a gap between the haves and the have nots in the league." Collinsworth: "The reason I think it's a concern is going into next year … because if you start thinking about this in terms of no salary cap, now will we begin to see potentially baseball happening to football." CBS' James Brown said the "cumulative effect of all this is having an adverse impact on the product on the field" ("Inside the NFL," Showtime, 10/28). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the NFL is "our national pastime, and it's based on everyone in the country has a chance. Right now, they don't." Plaschke added NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "needs to look at this and some of these awful franchises and if they need his help or guidance, they need to give it to them," as the "lack of parity is just killing the NFL" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/28). 

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  • UFL Management Disappointed By League's Attendance Numbers

     
    The four-team UFL is averaging just 11,982 fans through its first six games, and UFL Florida Tuskers coach Jim Haslett said the league's fan following thus far has been "disappointing," according to Joe Smith of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. Haslett and Tuskers offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said that the league "could have done a better marketing job." The Rays, who own a minority stake in the Tuskers, scheduled a concert by rock band Switchfoot following Friday's game against the Las Vegas Locomotives, but UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue said concerts and promos with the military are "not all working the way you think." Huyghue said that the league has been its "'own worst enemy' in terms of playing on different nights, which was by design, as this was more than anything an experimental year to see what works." But he noted that "while 'we would have liked to have seen about 20,000 (fans),' they had budgeted accordingly, so the lack of attendance won't affect their financial model; they plan to expand by two teams next season." Smith notes players "acknowledge the challenges but hope it doesn't turn into another league that fades, like the AFL and USFL" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/30).

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  • League Notes

    NBA Will Forward Donaghy's Allegations
    To Investigator "For A Complete Review"
    In N.Y., Howard Beck reports the NBA Thursday said it would forward former referee Tim Donaghy's latest allegations to investigator Lawrence Pedowitz "for a complete review." The NBA in a statement noted that the FBI and federal prosecutors "had investigated Donaghy's claims and found no other criminal conduct." Although Pedowitz issued his report on the findings "nearly 13 months ago, the NBA indicated at the time that his work would continue and that any new information would be investigated." In an unpublished book, Donaghy "accuses his former colleagues of manipulating games and allowing friendships and grudges to dictate calls." The latest accusations "come via the sports blog Deadspin, which on Wednesday posted excerpts" from Donaghy's book (N.Y. TIMES, 10/30). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, "I don't think there's anything he can say about other refs that are going to be more surprising or more damaging to the league than what he's already been convicted of doing" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/29).

    PUT ON PROBATION: In Charlotte, Jim Utter reported NASCAR Sprint Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger “will compete in Sunday’s Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway” despite being arrested early Thursday morning for DWI. Richard Petty Motorsports in an internal e-mail said that Allmendinger’s “status with the team had not changed.” NASCAR Thursday “penalized -- but did not suspend -- Allmendinger, placing him on probation until Dec. 31.” Allmendinger in a statement said, “I went out to dinner and I had a couple of drinks. I honestly felt fine, but I obviously should have erred more on the side of caution, particularly given what I do for a living” (THATSRACIN.com, 10/29).

    MAKING A COMEBACK: USA TODAY's Douglas Robson writes, "After one year of implementation, there are signs the WTA's restructuring to reduce athlete wear and tear and delivering a more consistent stable of stars to tournaments is doing what it intended. Overall player withdrawals are down by a third in 2009 from 2008, and the most sought-after names are meeting tournament commitments 90% of the time, up from 78% last year." ESPN's Pam Shriver said that it is "probably premature to call the changes resoundingly successful." Shriver: "But those numbers are encouraging in the first year" (USA TODAY, 10/30).

    ON THE FIRST TEE: In Palm Springs, Larry Bohannan offers ideas for what new LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan's priorities should be when he assumes the role in January. Bohannan suggests Whan should "make up with the sponsors, tournament officials ... be realistically positive about the product," and "market, market, market" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 10/30).

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