Bernstein: Selig’s Gag-Rule Makes No Sense

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) It’s hard to “upstage” something nobody cares about. Or maybe I mean it’s easy, and should be.

The World Series is upon us, about to test all-time lows for national interest, as two teams from flyover country play in the rain and wind while most Americans watch reality shows.

Thousands of tickets remain available to see the Rangers and Cardinals, and the secondary market gives you the chance to sit wherever you want for less than you’d think.

(CNBC’s Darren Rovell reported earlier today that a seat eight rows behind the Cards’ dugout was a mere $399 [!])

As this occurs, a dramatic, high-profile saga plays out involving two heritage major-league markets. A dynamic young executive has agreed to take the challenge of turning around one of sports’ great losers, and the owners of the respective teams are engaged in a staredown over compensation – tight-lipped Tom Ricketts on one side of the table, thin-skinned drama queen John Henry on the other. Soon, we expect the deal will be completed, and the announcement made.

Naturally, fusty commissioner Bud Selig has imposed his long-held policy: no news of that sort is to be released during the World Series, because he apparently believes there’s something wrong with having everyone talking baseball.

In yet another case of his shortsightedness, this small-minded protectionism exposes his fear of the game’s fragility, and the lack of trust he has in the fans.

This is just all kinds of wrong.

Either I want to watch the Series or I don’t. Nothing about the Cubs wresting Epstein from Boston changes my desire to see Albert Pujols in the ninth against Neftali Feliz, for better or worse. One has nothing to do with the other.

A splashy press conference at Wrigley Field makes baseball top-of-mind nationally, instead of merely in two cities far removed from the material media nerve-centers. In fact, one could make the case that Epstein to the Cubs magnifies the significance of the games occurring, since the subtext of his acquisition is the title quest, itself: he brought two sacred championships to one city, and is now being trusted to bring more. The gravity and excitement of the showcase is underscored by the significance of the hire.

Really, Bud? You want to avoid that kind of attention?

If you wait until the Series is over, you catch us after most everyone has mentally packed baseball up and put it away for the winter in that little compartment in our heads where it stays until February. Let it happen naturally, now, while we’re still actively paying any kind of attention, and the games are enjoying a prime-time, national-network TV platform.

It’s good news, not labor strife, steroid allegations or arrests. Epstein is telegenic and charismatic, and we’re talking about two heritage franchises here, not Toronto and Seattle. Any marketing pro would tell you that a chance to put that kind of brand-power out there while you have more eyes and ears available is one not to be missed.

Most importantly, we can handle two things at once. Most sports consumers are mainlining everything we need in whatever order we want – we’re not slaves to local 10:00 news or highlight shows like we were, say 20 years ago. The story is being heavily covered as it is – even before any official conclusion – as the final games begin. There are plenty of reporters, plenty of cameras, plenty of newsprint, segment-time and web-pages.

There can be more cities talking baseball, or fewer. Boston (which means New York too, of course), Chicago, perhaps San Diego if rumors regarding executives there prove true, and more will be all about the game, especially as NBA talks stall.

Epstein’s probable move is more interesting to many than the two remaining teams.

Trust us to handle all of it. Trust baseball.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Seligs Gag Rule Makes No Sense
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s columns here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
Listen to The Boers and Bernstein Show podcasts >>

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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Selig should gag on his own vomit as far as I am concerned.

  • Harry's Phlegm

    Note-perfect Bernsie. Sports fans mainline 500 sports topics per day like junkies and we’re not supposed to be able to handle, like, two stories at once? It’s kind of insulting, actually. Especially when, like you posted, it’s relatively good news and not something scandalous.

    No wonder MLB gets killed by the NFL.

    Oh, by the way, Bud, do you notice that two of the hottest cities climate-wise play in 90-100 degree heat and humidity the majority of the season and now will be playing the World Series (i.e., climax of the season) in at most 40 degree temperatures with rain tonight? That will bring peak performance from our uber-skilled and yet ski-capped participants!

  • Lincoln Park John

    I don’t agree w Selig on a lot of things, but this one I don’t mind. It’s the 2 teams moment to shine, give them all the spotlight. We’ll have enough time all offseason to listen to Yankees-Saux, but for once if those 2 teams aren’t in it let someone else get all the attention.
    When I saw the headline I thought it would be about the All-Star game getting home field. That rule has proven terrible this year, as Texas deserves to be playing at home, that’s why they played hard for 162 games.
    Overall Bernstein makes some valid points here, but I still think the 2 teams left fighting for the title, essentially a 6 month grind coming down to ONE and HALF weeks, should be left for 2 teams. Just my opinion though.


      I agree. And, last night, I poked myself in the eye with something those fancy people on the coasts call a dinner fork.

      My fault, I usually use a supper fork.


    FOX Sports can show all the camera shots of “The X Factor’s” Simon Cowell & Paula Abdul, the casts of “House”, “Glee” & “Bones” and other primetime shows on their network all they want during the World Series matchup between the Rangers & Cardinals starting tonight in St. Louis. It’s not that attractive of a matchup and likely will be one of the lowest-rated World Series ever broadcast.

    That being said, there’s probably a great deal more appeal in 2 teams that weren’t even in the MLB Playoffs in the Red Sox & Cubs, and a 37 year-old baseball executive in Theo Epstein than what will be happening the next week to 10 days in St. Louis and the Dallas suburb of Arlington, TX. If the two sides can FINALLY work out compensation, great! If they can make an official announcement during a travel day in the “Fall Classic”, similar to what happened when Tom Ricketts became the Cubs’ Owner if memory serves 2 years ago, so be it. I just wish this drama would finally come to an end so that those 2 teams and MLB in general can move forward once and for all.

  • Bowie Kuhn's Lightweight Raincoat

    I lived and died for this silly rule. Have you no decency, sir?

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Best handle in a looong time ’round here!!!

  • Terry Boers

    I have an erection for Mr. Dan Bernstein!!!

  • Denver Deadite

    Well, it’s typical: it’s the WORLD SERIES.

    Therefore, if you’re going to talk about baseball, you should be talking about the WORLD SERIES.

    And in the end, if the Cubs hire Epstein today as is being reported, everybody will be talking about football and Epstein. Because nobody gives a shat about the World Series.

    Side note: I will be committing to the Indian tonight, as the Blackhawks are in town. It should be a fun game, since the Avs are certainly playing beyond all expectations to this point in the season. And as usual, there should be plenty of ‘Hawks fans in attendance. :)

    • Bronzo

      I actually agree with DD on this one. I think Berstein is taking his typical elitist attitude towards the Series because it’s the Cardinals ( B&B are both on record as HATING LaRussa) and Rangers. Yes they are not major market teams but it isTHEIR time. As DD said it’s the WORLD SERIES so let the games take center stage not the hiring of the Cubs GM. Because believe it or not not everybody is interested in whether ot not the Cubs hire Theo Epstein…

      I watched a very entertaining game last night…I don’t care how many people watched it .

      • SPAULDING!

        I watched most of the game. A fast one with the number of runners on base.
        And, I enjoyed it, too.

      • Terry Boers

        Bronzo, I would’ve watched the game but I was too busy hammering my radio partner in the ass!

      • Bender Boy

        Is that Selig posting under Boers name?^

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