Let’s Not Get Our Hopes Up

I received a very nice email yesterday from the guys over at AZ SportsHub. They have just launched a new web site and asked for feedback. I’m always looking for Diamondbacks news and as a fellow Arizona sports aficionado I just had to go take a look. The site is very professional and has a great feel. The fact that they included my blog in their AZ Blogs section was also a pleasant surprise. [Note to self: Send Matt a new cool graphic icon for Diary Diehard along with a note of thanks.] As I was perusing the site, I was intrigued by an entry posted on January 23 discussing the Diamondbacks potentially hosting an All-Star game in 2011. The post was based on a story in the East Valley Tribune newspaper. As many of you know, I have fairly strong feelings about baseball snubbing the Diamondbacks and I have chronicled my frustration that Commissioner Selig for whatever reason does not want to award Arizona with an all-star game. Over the course of the past 8 years teams with new stadiums were given the midsummer classic to showcase the new facility. Sure Selig talks a great game telling fans and media how he would love to have Phoenix host an all-star game. After all, he lives here part of the time so it would be perfect. After that sound bite he awards the game to yet another city. So this story in the Tribune intrigued me.

During this off-season Selig has lined up venues for the 2008 game which will be played in New York for the last season in Yankee Stadium. He also awarded the 2009 game to St. Louis to show off their new stadium that opened last season. The 2010 game is scheduled to go to an American League city meaning 2011 is the next available National League game to be up for grabs. Coincidently 2009 is also the last year of Bud Selig’s contract as commissioner of baseball. His timing of the game awards have basically said the Diamondbacks will not have an all-star game while I am commissioner. It is a message I am starting to get loud and clear. I wondered what possible animosity the commissioner may have with the Diamondbacks. Looking back over the Diamondbacks tenure as a Major League Baseball franchise there are a few things that stick out.

On the eve of the Expansion Draft in November 1997, the Arizona Diamondbacks signed their first free agent. That free agent was Jay Bell and at the time it was one of the largest contracts signed. Jerry Colangelo was making a statement. He was saying, we want good ball players and we are willing to spend what it takes to get them. This signing along with others Jerry would do before the inaugural season raised eyebrows and brought a lot of strong words from the fellow owners. They felt Jerry was an outsider and was treating baseball like he did basketball and that was unheard of at the time. It was rumored that the Diamondbacks sought their first all-star game during this time but were told that downtown Phoenix lacked an adequate number of hotel rooms to support the game. This was a strange excuse considering that the valley had just played host to the Super Bowl a year earlier.

Within the agreement signed by the Devil Rays and the Diamondbacks, Major League Baseball added a stipulation that they could realign the two teams requiring them to switch leagues in the first two years of existence without either team having a say in the matter. This was an absurd idea and riled many baseball fans both here in Arizona and in other cities. The excuse Selig gave for realignment was that MLB needed to move the Texas Rangers because many of their games were played after the kids went to bed. The Diamondbacks were able to accumulate enough support from fellow owners to stop the madness and remain in the NL West. The clause expired and now Arizona has veto rights to block any move of their franchise from its current division. When the request for an all-star game was made, MLB conveniently sidestepped the issue by awarding the game to newer stadiums.

After the 2001 season where the Diamondbacks won the World Series, there was a lot of talk about timing and how it would be so appropriate for the all-star game to be awarded to the home of the first world champion of the new millennium. Then came the 2002 all-star game where Joe Torre and Bob Brenly managed the game to a tie. Not knowing what to do, the managers approached the commissioner who was placed in an awkward position of having the game end deadlocked. It was an embarrassment and I am sure the commissioner did not appreciate being placed on the hot seat like that. Hence, when all-star games came around the Diamondbacks were passed over.

So now we see that Selig has filled the queue with host cities through the end of his tenure as commissioner without the Diamondbacks being represented. Perhaps the Diamondbacks front office is confident in getting the 2011 game because they know they won’t have to go through Bud Selig. I would be interested in how the conversation went between the Phoenix delegation and the commissioner of MLB. Did Bud actually say they would be next or did he say he could guarantee that the Diamondbacks would not get a game as long as he was commissioner which the Diamondbacks took to mean we have a good chance of landing one a couple of years after Selig recedes into the shadows? Only time will tell; but I will not be getting my hopes up any time soon.

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