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Bud Selig forms a committee. Again.

Dec 15, 2009, 2:15 PM EDT

Yesterday’s news about Tony La Russa fixing baseball was apparently part of something far more grand:

Managers Tony La Russa Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia have been selected for a
committee that could recommend expanded instant replay and playoff
format changes.  The group was selected by commissioner Bud Selig and also will examine scheduling, umpiring and pace of game. No players or umpires are included.

Everyone knows that one famous quote about how to really screw up it takes a committee, but I think that accusing committees of mere incompetence is to go too easy on them.  Committees are typically put together for one simple reason, and that’s to make people think you’re doing something when you’d rather do absolutely nothing all. Or, put more succinctly, “A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.”

As for the substance, it’s probably worth noting that I was present for La Russa’s, Leyland’s and Scioscia’s press availabilities at the Winter Meetings last week, and each of them was asked about replay during their sessions. They each said something about the human element being important and how they were worried about the pace of the game and all of that. Indeed, their answers were really, really similar.

In hindsight, one wonders if they had already been selected for the committee beforehand and had been coached to adhere to those (admittedly common) talking points with the idea of that being the ultimate conclusion of the committee: “Hey, we’d love replay, by we don’t think it’s workable beyond the home run calls.”  As for the other issues: I don’t know why it takes a committee to deal with scheduling and pace-of-game issues. There are tweaks to these things every offseason, and no one needs a conclave for that.

But then again, Bud Selig is a big fan of using self-selected committees and task forces to (a) make findings that he’ll later tout as gospel as he tries to achieve his own ends; and (b) give him political cover on tough issues. He did it with economics. He did it with steroids. He’s doing it with Oakland. Now he’s doing it with rules, scheduling and pace-of-game issues. I’m guessing it’s because he wants to either do something truly radical or absolutely nothing at all.

In any event, they should put a conference room table on Selig’s Hall of Fame plaque.

  1. willmose - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:59 PM

    Yeah Craig, it a shame that we have a committee studying the issues, especially when it consists of Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia. What the heck do they know about the game? It would be so-o-o-o much better to have some cable or FOX executive make all the decision. Instant replay on every pitch during the playoffs, 2 strike KOs, 3 ball walks, 5 innings games on Monday and Thursday nights, first hit wins in extra innings, interview players at 2B after a player hits a double. These are all great ideas that would make the perfect, shorter and more fan friendly.

  2. Grant - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:13 PM

    This is a straw man argument.

  3. Aarcraft - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:30 PM

    Thats a generous use of the term “argument”

  4. RichardInDallas - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:32 PM

    On Replay:
    Great move in excluding umpires from this committee, since, in general, they are quite territorial about this. I can’t think of four better guys that are still alive and involved in the game. What willmose said about the TV idiots is right, although just a little bit exaggerated. And if you invited players to the committee, I’m sure the PA would have something to say about it. In thoery, Bud did something right here (a phrase I NEVER thought I’d type, say or even think!).
    On Playoff Format:
    Bud should be careful here. They might reccomend going back to East and West 4 Team playoffs!
    And on Pace of Game:
    It’S BASEBALL!!! It’s SUPPOSED to be slow!!! It’s about THINKING (A concept foreign to both Bud and the networks)!!! And these seem like the right bunch to allow the game to play itself out the right way….

  5. Joe - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:50 PM

    I still wonder how having an umpire up in the booth buzz down and say, “Dude, that was totally foul” could possibly take longer than to have a player/coach/manager argue about the call and then have the umpires caucus to come to a decision.

  6. smokehouse - Dec 15, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    When one is really honest, they will conclude that Selig is an absolute moron.

  7. Tony A - Dec 15, 2009 at 5:22 PM


  8. JBerardi - Dec 15, 2009 at 6:25 PM

    I still wonder how having an umpire up in the booth buzz down and say, “Dude, that was totally foul” could possibly take longer than to have a player/coach/manager argue about the call and then have the umpires caucus to come to a decision.
    . I love how we can’t have replay because it’ll slow the game down, but watching two grown men scream at each other like idiots for five minutes is “part of the game”. In fact, watching guys old enough to be their grandfathers have tantrums at each other is what motivates ballplayers to win games (this is what I am told, anyway).
    Use instant replay. Ban arguing with umpires (huge penalties). Profit.

  9. willmose - Dec 15, 2009 at 6:39 PM

    Sorry, the satire when over your head. I – W I L L – W R I T E – R E A L – S L O W – N E X T – T I M E.

  10. Old Gator - Dec 15, 2009 at 10:11 PM

    Bud Selig doesn’t “form” committees. He secretes them.

  11. Grant - Dec 15, 2009 at 10:32 PM

    1. On the Internet, tone is lost. All I see are words, and the words I saw were dumb.
    2. Have you seen the level of discourse on this site? Your argument was exactly the kind of thing I would have expected to see from a commenter here.

  12. Andy L - Dec 15, 2009 at 11:54 PM

    Grant, your comment #1 above made me cackle with delight.

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