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Selig Faces Blame for All-Star Chaos

July 10, 2002

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MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Eight years after scuttling a World Series, Bud Selig stopped an All-Star game.

No winner, no loser. Not even a player to receive the Most Valuable Player Award, newly named after Ted Williams.

Just fans cursing at the baseball commissioner and some throwing bottles into the outfield.

Selig hoped for a spectacular All-Star game in the new $400 million ballpark of his family’s Milwaukee Brewers. Instead, talk of a strike and steroids was followed by stalemate, the midsummer classic cut short, perhaps just like this season.

``I feel very badly about it,″ a drained-looking Selig said after Tuesday night’s 7-7, 11-inning tie. ``Frankly, I couldn’t feel worse.″

What usually is one of baseball’s best moments ended like a spring-training game _ called because the teams didn’t have any fresh pitchers left. The logjam ending matched the status of the angry labor talks between players and owners.

Fans knew something was up in the middle of the 11th, when Chuck Torres of the commissioner’s office brought AL manager Joe Torre across the field to Selig’s box. Selig huddled for about five minutes with Torre, NL manager Bob Brenly, umpires, baseball executive vice president Sandy Alderson and Fox Sports president Ed Goren.

With one out in the bottom of the 11th, public-address announcer Rob Edwards said the game would be called if it didn’t produce a winner that inning. A game played for the fans then ended with angry fans.

``Bud must go!″ and ``Let them play!″ were among the non-profane chants.

``They treated it like it was a meaningless game,″ said David Cuscuna, a fan from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ``They’re telling the fans this game doesn’t matter. Not to mention the $175 face value for tickets. It sends a lot of bad messages.″

Selig canceled the World Series during the 1994-95 strike, and might have to call it off again this year if players strike to fend off the economic changes he wants.

Baseball’s only previous All-Star tie was in 1961, at Boston’s Fenway Park, when the game was stopped by rain after nine innings with the score 1-1.

But this game was played in a ballpark with a retractable roof, open under a crystal-clear sky.

``In your wildest dreams, you would not have conceived that this game would end in a tie,″ Selig said. ``As much as I hated to do it, and with all of the reluctance in the world, given the people here in the stadium and the people watching on television, I really, really had no choice at the end but to end the game at the end of the 11th inning.″

While the NFL, the NBA and the NHL manage to pull off All-Star games, baseball is unique, because players cannot re-enter the game and pitchers can’t warm up again once they’ve left a game.

``You feel obviously somewhat empty because you don’t have a decision,″ Atlanta’s Tom Glavine said.

Managers didn’t want to extend the final two pitchers, Seattle’s Freddy Garcia and Philadelphia’s Vicente Padilla, who each went two innings.

``The last thing I want to do is get a pitcher hurt and send Freddy Garcia back to Lou Piniella saying he can’t pitch,″ Torre said, referring to the Seattle manager. ``The thing would have become even worse farce in the 12th inning if we went to some bizarre-type option.″

No one really knew what to say after the game ended on such a sour note.

``It’s an unfortunate situation,″ Brenly said. ``I think it’s highly improper to try to place a blame on anybody for this thing. But it happened.″

Baseball rejected allowing pitchers to return.

``If somebody hurts his arm or ends his career because of that, then what would you say?″ Selig said.

As they left the stadium, some chanting profanely, many fans seemed ready to place blame.

``I don’t think the sport’s hurting at all or we’re jinxed,″ Houston slugger Lance Berkman said. ``Baseball is a business and in any business, there are going to be hiccups along the way. I don’t think it’s going to have a long-term impact on the integrity of the sport.″

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