We Still Dig The Long Ball
Written by Fred Mitchell   
Friday, 14 August 2009
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig gets paid a pretty penny- actually more than $18 million- to make sure baseball remains America's favorite pastime.

Regardless of which barometer is used to measure such popularity, pro football ranks right near the top, as well. But Selig insists that baseball rules and fans will continue to fill major league ballparks in August and September as pennant races heat up and sluggers such as Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome continue belting home runs.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Selig says. “If you look at all the variables…I will just look at it from our perspective. I don’t want to comment on football. But we have set attendance records in four of the last five years with numbers that nobody ever thought possible. And the only reason we didn’t break it last year was because of some really horrid weather in September. Between hurricanes and rainouts….there were a lot of rainouts. Our gross revenues were over $6.5 million. This sport has never been as popular; it is more popular today than ever before.”

Last year’s World Series between the Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays was disrupted by torrential rainfalls and cold weather. Would MLB ever consider shifting the World Series to a neutral warm-weather city as the NFL does with the Super Bowl?

“Not as long as I’m commissioner,” said Selig. “Look, can you imagine either the Cubs or the Sox getting in a World Series and telling the people of Chicago that they have to go to San Diego? It’s not possible. Part of the joy is what (winning a pennant) brings to a community. Just like in Philadelphia last year…after 28 years (without a World Series) you’re going to tell people they are going to have to travel to San Diego? No, there’s no chance of that.

“Socially, it’s just the right thing to do. Part of the charm of fighting to get into the World Series is that if you’re lucky enough…lasting memories come from playing in front of your fans in your own ballpark.”