|Thursday, September 13
Updated: September 15, 2:31 PM ET
Baseball should forget makeup games
By Jim Caple
It's hard to imagine now, but we will care again whether Barry Bonds hits a home run, whether the Cubs reach the postseason, whether Ichiro wins the batting title. But not now.
That's why commissioner Bud Selig made the correct call when he followed the NFL's lead and postponed baseball until after the weekend. Selig was in contact with everyone he should have been, up to and including President Bush, before making his decision. If he wavered in his thoughts, well, he wasn't the only one this week.
After what happened Tuesday there will be no time that feels right for resuming the sports schedule. But there is a time that will feel less wrong. For now there is too much shock, too much horror, too much grief, too many security issues and too many logistical problems to rush back into the schedule. We certainly shouldn't be rushing to fill city landmarks with thousands of people.
When we do resume play, baseball will provide an important part of the healing process. Yes, sports are trivial compared to Tuesday's horror. But so much of what we enjoy in life is trivial. And it's all those trivial moments -- watching the game on TV, playing catch with your child, going to a movie, going to a bookstore, watching a sunset -- that make life precious.
So once we can be as sure as possible that the venues are safe, we should resume the games just as we resume the other details of our lives. They will provide us with a sense of community and life we desperately need. And we should make the most of that opportunity.
Fans should bring more than their rooting interest to the stadiums, they should bring donations for the relief effort. In addition to the usual concession stands, teams should set up blood banks. Players should donate part of their salaries, owners part of their ticket receipts.
Thus, resuming the schedule next week will be important for fans. But there is no need for baseball to go through with its plan to makeup the postponed games as well.
I can understand a desire to preserve the schedule if it is realistic to do so, but the plan to tack an additional week onto the season for makeup games will only lead to further problems.
The extra week will see teams who are out of the postseason hunt with little desire to play and their fans with little desire to see them. Teams who have clinched a playoff spot -- and the American League postseason teams are virtually set already -- will see little reason to burn up pitchers for makeup games that won't affect the standings. The wild-card standings are close in the National League now, but by that final week, the standings could very well be such that the remaining games are of relevance to only a couple teams.
More troublesome, should the Yankees, Cleveland or Philadelphia reach the World Series, games could be played in terrible weather the first week of November. And the later games are played, the greater the chance for postponements due to weather, which would back up the final games even further.
There is no reason so compelling that we need to play the entire season. When the strike ended in 1995, baseball had five months to make up any one of the postponed games but chose not to. If a 144-game schedule was satisfactory then, why is 156 games not now?
In these few days since Tuesday's attacks, we've all had to sort out a lot of feelings and thoughts. Intentions that initially sounded feasible no longer did as we learned more and thought more. I understand the desire to preserve the season and preserve a sense of normalcy. And after this week's horrors, no one has the patience or desire for a drawn-out debate over the baseball schedule.
That said, I still think baseball should reconsider its makeup plan. We don't need those games for a statistical balance. We need them for diversion and healing.
Jim Caple is a Senior Writer for ESPN.com.