Majors will take the weekend off
Advertiser News Services
NEW YORK Major league baseball postponed all games through the weekend and will resume play on Monday, a move that could push the World Series into November for the first time.
Yesterday's decision stretched to six days the interruption caused by the Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Other than player strikes, it is the longest regular-season stoppage since World War I forced the cancellation of the final month of the 1918 season.
The 91 postponed games were rescheduled for the week of Oct. 1, a move that will cause a one-week delay in the start of the postseason.
Commissioner Bud Selig made the announcement in Milwaukee about four hours after the NFL said it wouldn't play this weekend. Some in baseball had advocated resuming play today, and two teams even started heading by bus to cities where they were scheduled for games this weekend.
"The more I thought about it, I couldn't rationalize starting before Monday," Selig said.
Mark McGwire, the St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman who hit a record 70 homers three years ago, criticized baseball for taking so long to make a decision.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out sporting events are absolutely meaningless compared with what's going on in Washington and New York," he said. "And why are people taking so long to make a decision, I have no idea."
No baseball will be played in New York until Sept. 21. The New York Mets, scheduled to play host to the Pirates starting Monday, will instead play those games in Pittsburgh. The Mets' series at PNC Park that was postponed this week will be played during the week of Oct. 1.
Selig said players throughout baseball will wear the Stars and Stripes on the back of their uniforms for the rest of the season, a moment of silence will be held before all games Monday, teams will ask fans to sing "God Bless America," and fans will be given miniature American flags.
Selig didn't consider canceling the games outright, which happened in the strike-shortened 1972, 1981, 1994 and 1995 seasons. He did not want to hurt players such as Barry Bonds, who is seven home runs short of McGwire's record with 18 games remaining.
"There a lot of teams in the wild card hunt, the pennant hunt," Selig said. "There are a lot of individual records at stake. I believe in the sanctity of the 162-game schedule."
Selig wasn't concerned about the possibility that the World Series, long known as the October Classic, would produce its first Mr. November. Game 7 originally had been scheduled for Oct. 28. If baseball sticks to its usual format, it would be reset for Nov. 4.
"I believe that extra week will not be harmful," Selig said. "I worry about weather in October. Fortunately, we have a lot of warm-weather teams, a lot of West Coast teams."
With air travel disrupted, many teams headed home Wednesday and yesterday by means seldom used by baseball in the past half-century: buses and trains.
When the Major League Baseball Players Association held conference call yesterday among player representatives, some called in on cellular telephones from trains and buses, others from truck stops.
The biggest journey was by the Texas Rangers, who headed by bus yesterday from Oakland, Calif., back to Arlington, an 1,800-mile trip that they figured would take 30 hours or more.
The Chicago White Sox got home at 11 p.m. CDT Wednesday night after a 15-hour trip from a Manhattan hotel about four miles from the World Trade Center.
More cancellations: Three more minor leagues canceled the rest of their playoffs yesterday and declared champions.
Jacksonville and Huntsville were declared the Southern League co-champions, New Britain and Reading became the Eastern League co-champions and Kane County the Midwest League champion.
On Wednesday, Louisville was declared International League champion, Tacoma and New Orleans became the Pacific Coast League co-champions, Lake Elsinore and San Jose the California League co-champions, Lexington the South Atlantic League champion, and Brooklyn and Williamsport the New York-Penn League co-champions.
Play had been completed in the Appalachian, Arizona, Carolina, Gulf Coast, Northwest and Pioneer leagues. The Texas and Florida State leagues hadn't announced their plans, nor had two independent leagues: the Northern and Texas-Louisiana.