- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

Citing "the interest of security" and "a sense of deep mourning" for Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the United States, baseball commissioner Bud Selig called off all scheduled games yesterday and today. However, the sport is expected to resume play tomorrow barring a national change of events.
That could trigger an extension of the regular season by three days and might allow retiring Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken to end his career not at New York's Yankee Stadium on Sept. 30 as originally scheduled but rather at Camden Yards on Wednesday, Oct. 3, in a makeup game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Having previously postponed Tuesday's 15-game slate in the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Selig yesterday extended the sport's longest non-labor work stoppage in 83 years, saying that baseball "remains very sensitive to the aftereffects of the terrible tragedy that has struck our nation."
No official announcement has been made when play will resume, but industry sources expect tomorrow's scheduled games to be played, assuming logistic questions involving air travel and stadium security are resolved in time.
"I think many people would hope we'd start Friday," Selig said yesterday afternoon. "But I haven't made that judgment yet. I'm not close to making it."
Still, baseball has been careful to classify these three days' games as "postponed" and not "canceled," signifying that the sport plans to hold makeup games at the end of the regular season, currently scheduled to conclude on Sept. 30, and push the start of the postseason back three days.
Assuming the 15 unplayed, three-game series are rescheduled for Oct. 1-3, instead of finishing their season on the road at Boston and New York, the Orioles would come home for three more games against the Blue Jays. That would result in Ripken's 21-year playing career coming to an end in Baltimore, rendering his Sept. 23 game at Camden Yards and his Sept. 30 game at Yankee Stadium far less significant than originally thought.
The Orioles had not officially been told of any such plans yesterday, but many within the organization appear to be expecting that scenario to develop.
The rescheduling would be done in the interests of the entire sport, to allow the full 162-game season to be completed with minimal inconveniences. The site and date altering of Ripken's final games would merely be a byproduct of the move.
"I think what's going to happen is that whatever the commissioner's office decides to do, it will be something that will work for all teams, not taking any individual team into consideration," Orioles chief operating offer Joe Foss said. "I don't think they have that flexibility. I don't think the commissioner's office is going to be concerned about whether Cal Ripken plays his last game in New York or here."
Ever since Ripken announced his pending retirement June 19, the Orioles have expressed a desire to play their last game at home. The team asked Major League Baseball twice after a May 26 rainout at Camden Yards and after July's train derailment in Baltimore for permission to schedule a makeup game on Oct. 1, but the league denied the requests.
The Orioles are urging people to hold their unused tickets from this week's postponed games until a decision on future games is made. Presumably, though, tickets sold for this week's postponed games against the Blue Jays would be transferred to the makeup games, meaning those who hold tickets for tonight's originally scheduled 7:05 p.m. game instead could wind up attending the final game of Ripken's career.
The Orioles already have announced plans to honor baseball's Iron Man during the team's scheduled final homestand Sept. 21-23, against the Yankees, but those festivities easily could be moved to a later date. The starting time of the Sept. 23 game recently was changed from 1:35 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. to allow ESPN2 to televise it nationally.
Should there be makeup games in the first week of October, baseball's playoffs would start late, with the first day of postseason play likely Friday, Oct. 5 three days later than originally planned.
Any resumption of play is contingent upon various factors ranging from the appropriateness given Tuesday's tragedy to potential travel difficulties stemming from the Federal Aviation Administration's shutdown of every airport in the country to security issues at major league stadiums. Thus, Selig has declined to make any announcement regarding future games.
As it stands, baseball is in the middle of its lengthiest midseason stoppage for reasons other than labor problems since most of the final month of the 1918 season was canceled because of World War I.
Owners are likely to push for the rescheduling of postponed games in an effort to preserve the full 162-game season.
"There are so few games, and pennant races are still very, very tight," said Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, whose team leads the National League Central by five games. "Just one or two games could alter who ultimately wins the pennant."
Barry Bonds' pursuit of the single-season home run record also is at stake. The San Francisco Giants outfielder has hit 63 home runs this year, seven shy of Mark McGwire's 1998 record.
* The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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