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Wednesday, July 11, 2007
It simply doesn't matter whether Selig shows up

By Jim Caple
Page 2

It's rather odd how, all of a sudden, everyone wants Bud Selig to show up at a game.

Off Base
Fans often boo the commissioner when he takes the podium at a big event, while the media rips him with more regularity than anyone, except for members of the Bush administration or Hilton family. And yet now these same people are whining that it is of monumental importance that Selig be on hand when Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's career home run record.

Off Base doesn't understand this. Commissioner Kenesaw Landis wasn't in attendance when Babe Ruth hit his 714th home run. Did that diminish Ruth's record? Commissioner Bowie Kuhn wasn't on hand for Hank Aaron's 715th or 755th home runs. Does that diminish your appreciation of Aaron's record? Of course not. So why worry about whether Selig shows up?

Selig said before the All-Star Game that he hasn't decided whether he'll show up for the historic game -- apparently he's waiting to see whether it's the same night the final Harry Potter book goes on sale. "I said I will make a decision at the appropriate time and I'll determine the appropriate time," Selig said. But Bonds doesn't seem to care very much whether Selig shows up or not. "He's his own man," Bonds said. "He'll make his own decision."

Bonds also says he understands if Hank Aaron doesn't feel like flying across the country to sit around and wait for his most cherished record to be broken. "It's not fair to Hank to have him traveling all over the place," he said. "You can't predict when it will happen. If I could say, 'Hey, it will be 5 o'clock on Tuesday -- be on the plane,' that would be different. But it's not like that."

That's the proper attitude. Because really, what difference does it make? If you don't think Bonds is a deserving home run champ, Selig's showing up to hand him a gold watch isn't going to change your mind. And if you think Bonds is the greatest slugger of all time, Selig's spending the night at home isn't going to alter your opinion.

Bud Selig
Bud still hasn't made a decison -- who cares?
This is a bit like the president's calling to congratulate the winning team in the World Series or Super Bowl. Off Base isn't sure when this silly routine got started, but it unofficially got out of hand when Bill Clinton began offering champions a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. It's to the point now that teams feel insulted if Congress doesn't offer them a no-bid contract for them to rebuild their roster.

It's all unnecessary. You don't need a call from the president or a visit to the Rose Garden to authenticate a championship, and you don't need the express written consent of the commissioner to appreciate a record (or to consider it bogus). Ford Frick tried placing an asterisk on Roger Maris' single-season home run record, but it didn't take. Fay Vincent declared pitchers must go at least nine innings to earn credit for a no-hitter, but Off Base still considers rain-shortened and eight-inning complete game losses as no-nos.

So consider it this way. If the commissioner doesn't show up at the historic game, that leaves several available seats (if you consider Selig's support staff) for fans who really do want to see Bonds hit the historic home run. The only person who needs to be in the stadium for the record-breaking homer is the man who is going to hit it.

Of course, if the Maris kids want to show up, that would be cool.

BOXSCORE LINE OF THE WEEK
Nice day for the White Sox last Friday. They scored 14 runs and still got outscored by 18, losing a doubleheader 20-14 and 12-0 -- with Jon Garland producing this unsightly line in the first game: 3 1/3 IP, 11 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 3 BB, 0 K. The next night the Mets and Astros went 17 innings, with Paul Lo Duca squatting behind the plate for most of it while going an ugly 0-for-8.

But this week's award goes to Marcus Scutaro, who filled in for Eric Chavez at third base Friday night. Well, at least he tried to fill in for the Gold Glove winner. Unfortunately, he wound up with this line:

E-Scutaro (2 ground ball, 2 throwing)

The four errors tied the American League record for most errors by a third baseman in one game. That's also one more error than Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen has made all season.

TELL YOUR STATISTICS TO SHUT UP
• Albert Pujols wasn't happy he didn't play in the All-Star Game -- and with good reason. Leaving one of baseball's best hitters on the bench while batting Orlando Hudson and Aaron Rowand with the game on the line in the ninth inning was puzzling at the very least. La Russa said he was saving Pujols for extra innings, but jeez, you have to get past the ninth inning before you can worry about the 10th, and one rule of effective managing is never leaving your best gun unused. Plus, who do you think the fans would've rather seen at the plate with two outs and the winning run on base?

• If Ichiro does indeed sign that reported five-year, $100 million contract extension (look for it to be announced on Friday), it will make Mike Hargrove's recent abrupt departure as Seattle's manager even more intriguing. Did Ichiro help facilitate Hargrove's departure, or did the manager's resignation make Ichiro want to stay in Seattle? Or neither? Whatever the real answer, the fact that Ichiro gets along very well with new manager John McLaren couldn't have hurt in the final negotiations.

• What should be the first rule of playing in an old-timers game? That you're older than the players playing in the real game! But, as at least one New York writer pointed out, five of the Yankees' old-timers-game players on Sunday -- Homer Bush (34), Scott Brosius (40), Jim Leyritz (43), Rich Monteleone (44) and Paul O'Neill (44) were younger than the starting pitcher that day, Roger Clemens (soon to be 45). Closer Mariano Rivera (37) is also older than Bush.

INFIELD CHATTER
"Here's how hot it is in New York City today. So hot Ted Williams said, 'Who's crazy now?'"
--David Letterman

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached here. His Web site is at jimcaple.net, with more installments of "24 College Avenue." His new book with Steve Buckley, "The Best Boston Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard Boston Fans" is on sale now.