By ERIC AHLQVIST
Major League baseball commissioner Bud Selig has responded to lawmakers who support recent efforts to save the Hall of Fame Game, which will be played for the final time in June.
Major League Baseball announced in January that scheduling the Game, which has been a nearly 70-year tradition in Cooperstown, had become too difficult and would be discontinued after this year.
In response, Cooperstown native Kristian Connolly started the website savethefamegame.com, encouraging baseball fans to send e-mails to Selig, the Hall of Fame and other baseball officials to voice their displeasure with the decision. Among those who supported Connolly’s mission were Representatives Michael Arcuri, Maurice Hinchey and Senator Hillary Clinton. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig recently responded to requests made by those and other politicians to reverse the decision to end the annual Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown after 2008.
Selig sent a form letter of response to those politicians, explaining the reasons behind the decision.
``While I appreciate the sentiments expressed in your letter, allow me to elaborate on some of the reasons that went into the decision to eliminate the annual Hall of Fame Game in its current format after this year,’’ Selif wrote. ``As you know, our teams play 162 games in 180 days. With interleague play and interdivision matchups, finding two teams that could be scheduled into Cooperstown during an off-day has become exceedingly difficult. As you know, for several years the game has not been played in conjunction with the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, making the logistics of presenting the game that much more complicated.’’
But Connolly said Selig’s, and baseball’s, reasoning, is flawed. “To say that the Hall of Fame Game creates a scheduling problem is completely ludicrous,’’ Connolly wrote in an e-mail to the Town Crier.
He continued: ``The CBA specifically allows for the Hall of Fame Game, and even allows for it to be factored into consecutivedays- played and off-day provisions, so saying that the game takes place on an off-day is disingenuous, at best. If the commissioner was so concerned about giving players days off in lieu of maximizing profits during a 162- game, six-month season, then perhaps his office could craft a schedule which contained a few doubleheaders mixed in, to create further opportunities on the calendar for players to get some rest. But simply throwing in the towel on a nearly 70-year-old tradition rather than making it work -- in the interest of what is best for the sport -- should be embarrassing for those making that decision.’’ Selig went on to write that MLB is supporting the Hall of Fame in other ways, including committing $8 million dollars over a threeyear period to assist the Hall in its funding requirements, and ``embarking on a program to make our fans more aware of the Hall of Fame and its importance.’’
Beginning this year, Selig wrote, MLB will use the Hall of Fame’s Induction Ceremony as a special event in all major league parks where games are played that day, complete with video and on-field tributes and recognition of what is going on in Cooperstown that day.
``Frankly, we think this is a much better deployment of our resources in terms of ensuring the Hall of Fame’s long-term success, and will attract far more visitors to the area than a single game, played on a variable date each year, with the Major League players participating for a only a few innings,’’ Selig continued. Again, Connolly disagreed with Selig’s reasoning.
``I am in complete and utter disbelief that the commissioner of baseball believes that people need to be made ‘more aware of the Hall of Fame and its importance,’ Connolly wrote. ``As someone who grew up in Cooperstown and has traveled all over the country and met many different people -- baseball fans and otherwise -- I feel confident that there is not a single village in America that is more well known than Cooperstown, and baseball and the Hall of Fame are the main reasons why.’’
Selig concluded his letter by stating that he knows Cooperstown residents are disappointed in the decision, but they should remember that minor league baseball can be found in nearby locations like Oneonta, Binghamton, Troy and Syracuse.
Connolly said Selig’s lack of caring for about fans is ``appalling.’’ “Commissioner Selig’s identical, form-letter response to members of Congress is stunning in its refusal to directly address the lawmakers’ concerns, and in the way it sweeps the central issue (money) under the rug in favor of self-congratulating or hollow statements,’’ Connolly wrote. ``It’s insulting to the senators and representatives that have expressed their desire to see the tradition continue, and insulting to baseball fans across the
By ERIC AHLQVIST
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