MILWAUKEE -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and his wife
were in New York last Thursday night, and decided to take a drive
through the city after dinner.
"We went to the World Trade Center because I hadn't been there
in a while. Now to believe that they don't exist anymore," a
stunned Selig said Tuesday, slowly shaking his head. "It's beyond
human comprehension. There is nothing in any of our backgrounds to
even begin to prepare you for this."
With the start of the playoffs only three weeks away, baseball
became little more than an afterthought Tuesday after terrorist
attacks in New York and Washington.
Tuesday's entire schedule was canceled -- the first time since
the D-Day invasion in 1944 that a whole day of regular-season play was wiped out for reasons other than labor disputes or weather
-- and baseball will decide Wednesday morning whether games will be played that night. The Yankees also postponed Wednesday's game against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Baseball's quarterly meeting, scheduled to begin in Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon, also was canceled.
A major league owner told ESPN he would be surprised if baseball games are played before this weekend, and a team president said he could see games being postponed until Monday.
"I believe we are a social institution," Selig said. "We have
a lot of responsibilities, but above all, we have a responsibility
to act in a manner befitting a social institution."
Instead of spending their day in meetings, owners who arrived
before the attacks huddled around a television at the Pfister
Hotel, watching for the latest developments. Cellular phones rang
as friends and loved ones checked in.
Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane had a son who was in New
York on business; he called McLane's wife to say he was OK. Arizona
Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo reached his son Bryan, who was
in Milan, Italy, and told him to stay put. Bryan Colangelo is
president of the Phoenix Suns.
"We can't worry about our game, our business," Colangelo said.
"What were we all doing here? The people who were here, waiting
for a meeting to take place. How silly."
On Tuesday night, the New York Mets were prompted to leave their downtown hotel in
Pittsburgh. The Mets, in town for a three-game series against the Pirates,
were staying in a Westin Hotel, across the street from the William
S. Moorhead Federal Building.
The team moved to a hotel in a Pittsburgh suburb after general manager Steve Phillips consulted with baseball's security chief.
At Qualcomm Stadium, where San Diego had been scheduled to play
Los Angeles, a news radio station was playing over the clubhouse
"For a lot of people my age, we've only read about history, and
haven't really felt the impact of terror that we're dealing with," Padres reliever Trevor Hoffman said.
Braves starter John Burkett was trapped in Texas without a
flight or car, and scheduled to start in Atlanta less than 24 hours
He borrowed former teammate Rusty Greer's SUV and drove more
than 11 hours and almost 850 miles to make it to Atlanta for
Wednesday afternoon's scheduled NL East showdown against
"I felt obligated to my team to be there," the Braves pitcher
said by cell phone from the road late Tuesday night.
"I would've felt sick watching the game at home, knowing I
could've and should've been there, but wasn't," he said.
Selig heard the news of the attacks when he was at home, riding his exercise
bike as he does every morning. Stunned, he flipped through the
channels, only to see the same horrific images everywhere.
He spent most of the morning making sure everyone who works in
the Commissioner's Office was safe, and tracking down owners who
were supposed to be traveling to Milwaukee.
Because the meeting wasn't scheduled to start until late
afternoon, most owners planned to fly in Tuesday morning. About a
quarter made it, and a few more were stranded on their way. One
owner was in Des Moines, Iowa, while another was diverted to
Selig told the others to stay home. While baseball has some
pressing issues with the current labor agreement expiring Oct. 31,
now isn't the time to worry about them.
"Right now I'm not concerned about any of them (issues), to be
frank," said Selig, whose Milwaukee office was evacuated as a
precaution because it's in the city's tallest building.
Same for the games.
With fewer than 20 games left for most teams, these next few
weeks are critical for clubs in the playoff hunt. Seattle is the
only team that's clinched a playoff spot.
Arizona leads San Francisco in the NL West by just 1½ games. The
Giants lead the NL wild card race by only a half game.
"I don't think it's correct to focus on that right now," said
McLane, whose NL Central-leading Astros were to begin a crucial
series against the Giants on Tuesday night.
"I don't care if they're all canceled," he said. "When it's
deemed safe to proceed or it's in the interests of our country to
go forward, that's when we should resume. Whenever that is.
"If it's 24 hours from now or if it's a week from now, I'm just
not concerned about it."
In the past, baseball has been a healing force during national
tragedies. President Franklin Roosevelt ordered games to continue
during World War II. When an earthquake devastated San Francisco in
1989 and delayed the World Series between the Giants and the
Oakland A's, the city asked baseball to keep playing.
Selig hopes baseball will help heal the nation again. But with
emotions so raw, it's too soon to even think about it.
"It's got to be done right. It's got to be done with only
healing in mind," he said. "We're going to do this when it's the
right time and the right thing to do. Not for us. This is one time
we're not going to think about us.
"We're going to think about what's best for the country."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.