In the Best Interests of Baseball

April Fool’s Day is pretty much one of my favorite holidays. Who doesn’t like a day devoted to playing practical jokes and in general messing with people’s minds? From an early age I took to this holiday like a duck takes to soup. I remember when I was Kindergarten age I took all the sugar out of the sugar bowl and replaced it with salt then went to school. Who would have thought that would be the day my father would decide to have a bowl of cereal? So instead of getting my younger brother (who always seemed to be my primary target), I instead got my dad. The only bad part was that I was gone to school and so I missed out on payoff. It must have been good though because my mom still laughs about it to this day. As I got older the pranks were pulled on a much grander scale. There was the time I wrapped a co-workers cubicle in police line and drew a dead body outline on the floor using masking tape. You should have seen him trying to explain that to the security guard. Most of my pranks were fairly harmless and always in good fun (at least to me). Even my writing was sprinkled with humor and pranks. I briefly considered posting an entry similar to the one in 2000 but that all changed when this morning I stumbled upon something of real importance.

As usual I began the day by surfing over to the Major League Baseball web site and the Arizona Diamondbacks web site. I always go there first to see if I happened to miss any earth shattering news during the 3 hours I was not online. I am not exactly sure what I expect to happen between 3 AM and 6 AM Arizona time but you just never know. The one day I don’t check the web site there will be a story posted that has huge implications to baseball and more importantly to the Diamondbacks. But that is usually not the case so I didn’t expect much during my perusal of the site. As I suspected there wasn’t much noteworthy but I did happen to click a wrong button which launched a multimedia clip featuring an interview that Commissioner Bud Selig did for Opening Day. He was asked a question by a reporter about the Texas Rangers and their longstanding complaint of toiling in the American League Western Division. This has been an on-going problem for the Rangers as many of their games are played on the west coast making it very late for their fans to watch the games without making a very late night of it. Selig mentioned that this has long been on his radar to resolve and in fact he had provisioned for this during the last round of expansion. I immediately stopped dead. I knew exactly what he was talking about. In 1995 when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks were unveiled they were not immediately placed within a league and a division. Part of the reason for this was that Commissioner Selig was hoping to resolve some of the alignment issues surrounding Major League Baseball and in particular the Texas Rangers. Diamondbacks Managing Partner had let the other owners he was only interested in bringing baseball to Phoenix if he could be assured of being in the National League. The other owners were a little less than thrilled to be dictated to but baseball was in a precarious situation. They therefore awarded the teams then postponed the placement of the teams. As time passed another owners meeting was held this time to put the two new teams in their respective divisions. Colangelo had campaigned heavily for placement in the NL West and the other owners in particular Peter McGowen of the Giants were big proponents of having the Diamondbacks join them. Selig did not have the votes necessary to get the Diamondbacks into the AL West but did invoke something that gave him an out. The Diamondbacks were indeed placed within the NL West but with the stipulation that they could be moved to any division without their approval within the first five years of their existence. After that time they could be moved with their approval or with an invocation of the “best interests of baseball” clause by the commissioner. So for the first few years I was extremely nervous as every owners meeting was held that there would be a late breaking story stating that the Diamondbacks were moving to the AL West. The rumors were rampant in 2001 that time was running out and the Commissioner would realign the team after the season. A crimp was put in these plans when the Diamondbacks won the World Series. No one in baseball felt it was appropriate for the defending World Series Champion to suddenly be in the other league. The Diamondbacks had dodged a bullet; or so I thought. In this multimedia clip the Commissioner stated that enough time had passed that he felt it would be in the best interests of baseball for changes to be made. He explained that he had discussions with the Arizona ownership group where were amenable to the move on certain conditions. First would be assistance for expediently eliminating some of the team’s debt that was a result of deferred contracts under the Colangelo ownership era. The other condition would be that the Diamondbacks would be awarded the next available All-Star game (which would be quicker since the next available would be awarded to an AL team). They would also like a second All-Star game fairly soon after the first. The commissioner now feels as though he has everything he needs to act on behalf of the best interests of baseball to make this change. The realignment could come as early as next season if all the owners approve it at their next conference call meeting. My worst nightmare was suddenly coming true. Instead of the traditional National League style of baseball the Diamondbacks would soon be in the American League forcing me to accept the designated hitter. And while the AL West is slightly less competitive than the NL West it is not without its dangers as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are one of the big market clubs who are not afraid to spend on free agents and player development which will make it extremely difficult to compete with. I hate the thoughts of this. It makes me question whether I really want to remain a Diamondbacks fan if this occurs. But in the end I know I will be a fan forever. So about all I can really say to this announcement is, “April Fools”. I just couldn’t resist, the holiday was just too strong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *