The Bud Selig farewell tour may be coming to a ballpark near you

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Bud Selig is retiring after the 2014 season and he tells Jayson Stark of ESPN that he has an idea: he wants to visit all 30 parks to say goodbye — and thank you — to behind the scenes folks and people like that:

“I want to talk to season-ticket holders and fans,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of people to thank.”

That idea came about, he said, in part because several clubs reached out to him after his announcement and asked to honor him, but also because [Mariano] Rivera’s farewell tour got Selig to thinking about ways to connect with people who love baseball.

“I like that,” Selig said. “I like talking to people. And … that’s what I want to do: [speak to] season-ticket holders, people who work at ballparks. I just like to walk around and talk to people. I love that. I did that when I ran the Brewers. And I enjoyed it. I miss that.

If it’s for him and it’s truly about thanking people that’d be pretty great. If it turns into teams giving him gifts and things in ceremonies I imagine it’ll grow a bit tiresome pretty quickly. And I imagine it might backfire.

Why? Because while it’s hard to argue that Selig hasn’t been an effective commissioner, being an effective commissioner is a narrow thing. He’s made money for owners and made the game successful, that cannot be denied. But I feel like the average fan still probably has scorn for Selig, justified or not. Maybe they hate interleague play. Maybe they still hold the 1994-95 strike against him. Maybe they have any number of beefs. Whether it’s his fault or not, people would probably use the opportunity to boo him or something because as Commissioner he’s, by definition, a lightning rod.

It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begin the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp now have a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they’ve only played five innings of baseball.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?