Roger Goodell vs. Bud Selig: Who ya got?
Who knew that the simple matter of scheduling the NFL season opener would trigger a bit of a battle royale between the NFL and Major League Baseball?
The Ravens, as is customary for the NFL champion, are set to host the season opener on Thursday, Sept. 5 at M&T Bank Stadium. The Orioles are scheduled, as they have been for quite a while now, to play the Chicago White Sox in a 7:05 p.m. game at Camden Yards. The teams share parking lots and, clearly, something’s gotta give.
For the NFL, the answer is simple: Baseball and Peter Angelos can just move their silly little game to the afternoon. For MLB, the NFL can take its silly little game out of town or to another day or earlier or something.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has taken the high road, offering to cover any money that Orioles owner Peter Angelos might lose and he envisions a September celebration a la Patriots Day in Boston, when the marathon and a Red Sox home game at Fenway coexist and beer sales soar.
“In fairness to Major League Baseball and the Angeloses, we’re trying to dump a pretty big problem on them and we’re asking them to make a lot of concessions that will benefit us and potentially harm them, though it doesn’t necessarily harm them,” Bisciotti said Monday at the NFL owners’ meetings (via the Baltimore Sun). “The bottom line is if they wanted to do it, they would find a way to do it. From the Ravens and the NFL standpoint, we’ll do whatever we have to do in order to keep that tradition. …
“I don’t know how much good will we’ve built up at both the league level and the team level. I hope it’s enough that [the Orioles] say, ‘This is a good thing to bend over backwards to accommodate them.’ I think a doubleheader — if we can move it a little later and they can move it a little earlier — and we can pull it off, I’m trying to figure what would be a greater day in Baltimore.
“The call-in sick factor in Baltimore that day … they might just close every office in town and say, ‘Go do what you want to do.’ I think it’s an opportunity for Major League Baseball to look really good, too, if they can some way figure it out.”
Goodell said he has spoken to Selig about a compromise in which the Orioles would play earlier (returning to Baltimore after a Sept. 4 night game in Cleveland) and the Ravens would kick off later.
“We’ve agreed to move the [football] game a little bit later to accommodate the baseball game. We think it would be a great day,” Goodell said (via the Sun). “As a kid who grew up an Orioles fan, to have an Orioles game in the afternoon and then go to the Ravens’ Super Bowl championship celebration for the kickoff game would be a great day. We hope that’s the way it happens.”
September could be a significant month for the Orioles, which adds further importance to the question of moving the game. Katy Feeney, baseball’s senior vice president for club relations and scheduling, told the Sun that this isn’t a simple matter because “it doesn’t just involve the Orioles. There is another team. I think mainly, from a baseball standpoint, to make that change is extremely difficult.”
Ravens Coach John Harbaugh professed to care only as far as fans were concerned by the stand-off.
“The biggest thing is the fans. The team belongs to the fans. The team belongs to the community. You say, ‘Whose team is this?’ It’s the community’s team. This is pro football. it’s about the greater Raven Nation, so to speak. That’s what it’s all about. To have that home game after the Super Bowl, it’s kind of become tradition. It’s something that we would cherish,” he said today at the NFL owners’ meetings (via Jason Wilde) in Arizona. It would mean a lot to our fans. As far as the football team, we’ll play ‘em anywhere. We’ll go anywhere. We’ll play ‘em at home, we’ll go on the road, we don’t care who you schedule us against. We know who we’re going to play, we’ll play ‘em. We’ve got to play ‘em all – eight at home, eight away. If they send us on the road, we’ll go and we’ll happily play in that game. But I will be disappointed for the fans.”
Moving the NFL opener to another day would seem to be the obvious, simple solution after the NFL opened the 2012 season on a Wednesday to accommodate the Democratic National Convention, but that isn’t possible in 2013 because of Rosh Hashanah, which has been on the calendar longer than the NFL and MLB games combined. Although the NFL has played games on the holiday before, the season opener is another matter, with pregame concerts and ceremonies.
Baseball and the NFL have always found a way to keep out of each other’s way, but this time, there’s a big power shift. And Selig isn’t in the driver’s seat. Yahoo’s Mike Silver offers a solution:
This is a time when Goodell should flaunt his considerable power without thinking twice. Making accommodations for the NCAA (no Saturday night games until after the college football regular season winds down) is one thing – that’s the NFL’s free farm system, and thus there are good business reasons for college football to flourish. Appeasing Selig is utterly unnecessary.
If I were Goodell, I’d make another generous offer to compensate Selig, the Orioles and the White Sox for their trouble – and it would be my final offer. If the MLB commissioner didn’t accept it, I’d schedule that Sept. 5 home opener for the Ravens and let nature take its course.
Whose fans do you think would be more likely to show up early, snatch up all the parking spaces and stage pregame gatherings with greater enthusiasm?
Which sheriff would almost certainly still be standing, unscathed, after this high-stakes 21st Century duel?
Or, as former NFL player and ESPN analyst Ross Tucker put it: “If Bud Selig doesn’t move Orioles game up, the NFL should schedule a marquee game every single night of World Series.”