Sincerely, Bud Selig
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Allan H. Selig
Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2003 2:58 PM
To: My good friends in the media
Subject: NFL coverage

Quite frankly, I'm a little confused (no jokes, please :) ).

After a productive week spent working on a new method for determining when (if ever) the Expos should get home-field advantage this season, I sat back to spend a quiet Saturday night watching my favorite TV show. Imagine my surprise to find that not only has "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman'' been cancelled but that an NFL playoff game was being played at night. Worse, if I have the time zone thing down correctly (and I'm pretty sure I do), the game ended near midnight on the east coast.

Now, when I was a boy growing up in Milwaukee, I used to spend many glorious Sunday afternoons watching the football playoffs and the great Alan Ameche on our transistor TV. And I'm sure millions of other Americans did the same thing.

So when an NFL playoff game ended past bedtime for half the nation last weekend, I expected the league to be criticized the same way as I am during the World Series. After all, reporters practically accuse me of child abuse for scheduling World Series games that occasionally end as late as the Eagles-Falcons game did.

Eagles fans
These east-coasters sure didn't mind missing out on a few winks.
But I didn't see any editorials about how our nation's poor children couldn't stay awake to see the final quarter of a playoff game. I didn't hear any talkshow hosts yelling about the NFL alienating the younger generation of fans. Quite candidly, I didn't see anyone even mention the game's late finish in their stories.

Could you kindly tell me why? Perhaps I am as clueless as you all portray me, but if it's so awful for World Series games to end near midnight, then please explain why it isn't just as bad for NFL playoffs games to end near midnight.

And while I'm here, I'd like to bring up a couple other issues that have been bothering me.

Length of games: The average major league game lasted two hours and 52 minutes last season. Even my own granddaughter knows the average NFL game now regularly stretches past the three-hour mark. So how come when you complain that baseball games drag on longer than Gene Orza speaking at a union meeting, you never bother to point out that football games last even longer?

Steroids: Granted, we have too many players using "pep-pills'' in baseball (but l must admit -- it does make you wonder how many home runs Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews could have hit if they had regular access to Dianabol). And trust me, my friends, we're going to do a myriad of things about that. But let me tell you something else. Getting Donald Fehr to agree to a stiff "pep-pill'' policy is about as easy as getting the office to accept a $150 "lunch'' on your expense report without a receipt. I know you can appreciate the difficulty. :)

And yet you still rip our new "pep-pills'' plan as being woefully inadequate, while accepting the NFL's "tough'' policy at face value. Well, let me ask you this. When you see football players growing larger than the Minnesota Twins budget deficit, do you really think there are no steroids in football? When you see football players growing stronger than the New York Yankees grip on first place, do you really think there are no steroids in football? When you see football players getting faster than your knee jerk responses to my new proposals, do you really think there are no steroids in football?

Warren Sapp
Bud, does this look like the belly of a speed enhancing steroids user?
When you compare the significantly increased size, shape, strength and speed of today's football players to the Packers of 10 or 15 years ago, do you seriously believe the NFL policy is doing a damn thing to eliminate steroid use?

If so, you all are as gullible as my good friend George Steinbrenner always claims.

Contraction: O.K. You don't want to believe our numbers. You don't care that my good friend Carl Pohlad desperately wants baseball to succeed in Minnesota but is tired of losing $20 million a year. You would rather bury your heads in the sand than address baseball financial disparity. And you hated contraction. Fine. But how was contraction any worse for a city than having a league regularly move its teams from loyal, supportive markets? Seven NFL teams have moved in the past two decades -- including two from the second-largest market in the country -- and yet you want your readers and viewers to believe that baseball is the league run by heartless corporate bastards? Puh-leeze.

Remember, I only threaten to move teams. The NFL actually loads the U-Hauls and transports them to Tennessee.

I could go on and on (like, why do you never point out that Monday Night Football games always end after midnight?) but unfortunately, I have a meeting with Pete Rose and I'd better get to him before he starts selling the memorabilia in my office.

But I guess it's like I was telling my wife after the All-Star thing. Everyone blamed me, like it was my fault that the best manager in baseball couldn't get through an entire game without using up all 30 of his players. And then I told my wife, ''At least they care. It could be worse. It could be the Pro Bowl where those media vultures don't even notice they play it.''

So I suppose it's an honor that baseball is such a social institution that people feel the need to beat up on us. It just would be nice if you occasionally held the NFL to the same standard. :(


Allan H. (Bud) Selig Commissioner of Major League Baseball

P.S. Paul Tagliabue is a good friend of mine but it's not like his hair is winning any Vidal Sassoon styling awards, either.



Jim Caple Archive

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Caple: Cleaning out an old friend

Caple: The mind of the harried fan

Caple: The road to Hell is paved with SUVs

Caple: Move over, Cheech & Chong

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