14 May 2004

Selig Responds to Challenges (no, not really)

Tongue-In-Cheek, Neb. (BS) -- MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's spoke at a sports banquet on Tuesday and miraculously managed not to mention illegal steroids, cheesy advertising ploys or the problems of the Montreal Expos. Instead, he rambled on ad nauseum about the beauty of baseball and its enduring popularity. Or at least he tried to...

Unaware that this was actually a gathering of disgruntled bloggers and baseball writers, Selig told a crowd of more than 1,200 that the momentum created by last year's dramatic playoffs and World Series has carried over. Crowds are up 15 percent compared with the first month and a half of the 2003 season, and he predicted major-league attendance would set a record at more than 70 million this year. Selig did not happen to mention how, exactly, one can legitimately describe events occurring five months apart as being somehow linked by "momentum" but then explaining what he means is something most of us have come not to expect from him.

"If nothing else, the major league baseball postseason demonstrated the remarkable power of the game, the attraction of the game, the durability of it and the ability to captivate the attention of the public," Selig said. He then followed this by saying that, "It also demonstrated that even a franchise as wealthy as the Yankees can't win all the time. Money doesn't always translate into success." Wait a minute. No, he didn't.

Selig took some ribbing from the head table regarding baseball's reversal of its decision to allow bases to be stamped with advertisements for the movie "Spider Man 2."

Unexpectedly, ESPN columnist Rob Neyer stood up and asked, "Hey, I thought you guys were doing that promotion thing for the kids, weren't you? To reach out to the youth of America? I mean, your own man, MLB President Bob DuPuy, actually said, 'It's part of our effort to market the game in a holistic style, but mostly to market it to a whole demographic: kids.' Aren't you interested in marketing to kids anymore?"

Selig wouldn't be baited, though. He essentially ignored Neyer's inquiry and tried to continue with his prepared remarks. Interrupted again though, this time by John Perricone, Selig was unable to finish his statements.

"Hey, Seligula, did you hear that the government released all those steroid test results? Turns out the entire 2003 Florida Marlins team was using, so you'll have to forfeit that World Series to Superman and the Giants! Ha! Just kidding!"

Selig did not respond verbally, though he did appear to pee his pants in the middle of Perricone's remarks.

During his 10-minute speech, Selig showed reverence for the sport he oversees. He said the game has a social responsibility to the nation.

"What about baseball's social responsibility to the people of Minnesota, not to threaten to contract a team that's smart enough to have three straight winning records and two consecutive division titles, despite a payroll one-third that of the Yankees and a twenty-year old stadium?! Contract THIS," the young man said, and then heaved a stack of papers toward the Commissioner. These later turned out to be previous blog entries, to which the young man attempted to refer in a conversation with Selig after dinner. The young man was identified as Aaron Gleeman.

Selig avoided the confrontation with Gleeman, stating that he had no idea what Bobby Kielty's GPA was, and for that matter, couldn't even recall where Kielty went to college.

Baseball's proudest moment, Selig said, came when Jackie Robinson became the first black to play in the major leagues in 1947. Selig also touted the millions of dollars baseball has donated to charitable organizations.

"Hey, you know what else was a pretty proud moment for the Dodgers?" another heckler stood up to ask, "turning a nice $120 million profit in just five years when they re-sold the franchise." It was Doug Pappas. "And did you really expect us to believe that the freaking Dodgers were losing $40 million a year? What kinds of fools do you take us for? Whose 'charitable organization' is getting all that money? Darren Dreifort? Mmfpph ack!" His words were stifled by a gag as several unidentified men in white suits subdued Pappas and dragged him from the banquet hall.

Selig attempted to continue. "Baseball has served as a bridge of the generations," he said. "How many of you still remember the first time you walked into a ballpark on the hand of a parent or grandparent and first experienced that great expanse of grass?

Apparently thinking that this was something more than a rhetorical question, David Levens and Zachary Manprin responded, "Hey, you know where's there's a pretty nice expanse of grass? Oakland Colliseum. All that foul territory? One of the few pitchers' parks left in the major leagues? An affordable day at the ballpark? I mean, sure it's kinda nondescript and not perfectly suited to baseball, but we've made the playoffs four straight seasons, with two MVPs and a Cy Young Award to boot. But maybe we should push for a publicly-financed new stadium, so we can become the booming success that, say, the Milwaukee Brewers are!"

Selig reiterated that he does not, in fact, own the Brewers anymore, but otherwise had no comment.

Feebly, and clearly worn out from all the confrontations, Selig labored on, "Baseball is a great game, but it is more than a game because of its incomparable history."

"Speaking of history," interrupted Mike Carminati, "did you ever decide what to do with Pete Rose? The Dowd Report is ridiculously biased, but the man's admitted to betting on baseball now, so there shouldn't be any question now. Here, take a look at this..." Carminati then attempted to pull out an Excel spreadsheet with some obscure statistics from players banned for gambling in the 19th century, but Selig left the podium before he could finish.

Selig, it should be noted, arrived at the banquet late and left early. He was whisked to a waiting limousine and was unavailable to reporters. A spokesman for Selig said that he had an appointment with a plastic surgeon, where he would undergo a procedure to prevent himself from talking out of both sides of his mouth.

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