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
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.
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.
|These east-coasters sure didn't mind missing out on a few winks.|
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
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?
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
|Bud, does this look like the belly of a speed enhancing steroids user?|
If so, you all are as gullible as my good friend George Steinbrenner
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.