- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

BALTIMORE Calling it simply "the right thing to do" in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks, baseball commissioner Bud Selig yesterday postponed all games through Sunday and said the major leagues will resume play the following day.
Six days of play totaling 91 games were postponed this week, the most since World War I canceled much of the final month of the 1918 season. All games will be made up during the first week of October, pushing back the start of the playoffs and World Series.
Selig had briefly considered resuming play today but said, "The more I thought about it, I couldn't rationalize starting before Monday."
"People who know me know I am very deliberate," Selig said. "I agonize over a lot of things. I had only one framework of reference. What should we do? What's the appropriate time? I have spent hours talking to people, talking to a lot of people. I have wrestled with this over and over in the last 24 hours… . My instincts finally said to me, 'Monday is the day.' "
The commissioner's announcement in Milwaukee yesterday came a few hours after the NFL decided not to play this weekend, though Selig insisted his decision was not swayed by the actions of any other sports institution.
Seven games (six of them National League contests) are scheduled Monday. The rest of baseball's 30 teams will resume play Tuesday, including the Baltimore Orioles, who are scheduled to visit Toronto.
With several pennant races going down to the wire and a few historical records being chased, Selig felt the completion of a full 162-game regular season and thus the pushing back of the postseason was necessary.
"I believe in the sanctity of a 162-game schedule," he said. "We are going to play an extra week. I know people worry about weather. I worry about weather in October. I looked at teams in the hunt. Fortunately, we have a lot of warm-weather teams, a lot of West Coast teams. The conclusion I came to is that the extra week will not be harmful."
The makeup games will begin Oct. 1, the day after the regular season was due to be completed, and will wrap up on Oct. 6 or 7. The postponements mean future Hall of Famers Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn will play their final games at home.
The playoffs, which originally would have started on Oct. 2, will likely begin either Oct. 8 or 9, meaning the World Series could extend into November for the first time.
Selig's decision was widely supported by major league players, many of whom seemed uncomfortable with the prospects of returning to action this weekend.
"I think it's a great gesture that we are holding off," said San Francisco Giants second baseman Jeff Kent. "We can mourn with the rest of the world for a couple or three days. We'll kick off the first of the week and turn the page on this and move on like the president wants."
St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, whose single-season record of 70 home runs is being threatened by the Giants' Barry Bonds, was astonished that anyone in the sporting world was considering playing games so soon after the tragedy.
"For people to think it's OK to play sports this weekend is absolutely asinine," McGwire said before the decision was announced. "This is the worst thing that can ever happen to the country, and people are worried about making decisions on playing sporting events. I have no idea where their minds are, but I guarantee you if they knew somebody or had a family member in Washington or New York, they wouldn't even think about it."
The week's events, causing a mass shutdown of the nation's air transport system, left numerous teams facing unusual travel plans. The Texas Rangers, who had been in Oakland, Calif., for a scheduled three-game series against the Athletics, boarded a bus yesterday and planned to make the 1,800-mile trek back to Arlington, Texas, where they will resume play Tuesday.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, thinking they might be playing today in Chicago, were in the midst of an 8-hour bus trip from Pennsylvania to Illinois when word got out that the commissioner was postponing play through the weekend.
Games scheduled for Monday are due to be played in Montreal, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Colorado and Los Angeles. The New York Mets are supposed to play host to the Pirates, but given the proximity of the World Trade Center to Shea Stadium, the possibility exists that the series will be moved to Pittsburgh. The New York Yankees are scheduled to play at Tampa Bay.
"I feel for those guys in New York," Bonds said. "That would be so hard, to play there. I don't know how they can even think about leaving their families there."
When the games resume, stadiums will recognize and honor those affected by this week's tragedy in a variety of fashions. Players will wear American flag patches on their uniforms for the rest of the season, and fans attending Monday's games will be given miniature American flags. All clubs will observe a moment of silence before the first pitch, and at some point during the game, clubs will ask fans to sing "God Bless America."
Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell anticipates the first day of games will provide any number of emotional moments, none more so than the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, which many times is ignored by players who are in the dugout tunnel or clubhouse at the time.
"We hear it 162 times a year," Bagwell said. "But I'll be there on the top step Tuesday, I'll promise you that."
* The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide