As Sam Sees It

It is time for Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball to show some grit and take back their game from the television moguls at Fox Network.

The network was responsible for the schedule that had the Los Angeles Angels playing in New York on Sunday night, in Los Angeles on Monday night and in Chicago on Tuesday night. That is more frequent flier miles than some Secretaries of State record.

That network also instituted the change in the All Star Game format that caused that game to be used to determine the home field advantage in the World Series.

As a result, the American League team has had the home field advantage in the last three World Series. As the leagues play by different rules that give a distinct advantage to the host team which gets to play an extra game by its league's rules if the series goes the seven game limit.

The NCAA College World Series changed its format from double elimination to a two-bracket system at television executives' insistence. That made it possible for two teams to wind up with identical records in the event but one be crowned champion.

In previous years another game would have been played to "eliminate" one of the teams by handing it its second loss in the double elimination tournament.

Television does some good things for sports, especially in bringing in the revenue that makes most professional sports able to survive and flourish. Some of the schedule changes, though, are not good for the game, the players or the fans.

Baseball should also work at getting its playoff games out of the winter months. It wasn't that long ago that the World Series ended in early or mid October. Now it is almost November when the event is over. (It was November in 2001, but there were extremely extenuating circumstances that year, namely the Sept. 11 terrorists attack.)

Seeing fans bundled up in winter clothing is okay for football, but not natural at a baseball game. It is also very likely not good for the health of the players. This could probably be alleviated somewhat by playing day games in the October portion of the season.

Sticking with the baseball playoffs, this season saw some of the closest and best playoff games one could ever want to see.

Unfortunately, these games also featured some of the worse umpiring in recent memory. The one that will get all of the attention is the "missed" third strike that should have sent the second game of the Angels-White Sox series into extra innings.

That series also had a catcher's interference that was not called and a missed third strike play that resulted in a batter/runner interference that was argued but was properly called. Then there was the tag with an empty glove that was also properly called.

In Houston, a couple of hasty ejections marred an otherwise brilliantly played series. Still, baseball fans should be enjoying a magnificent World Series between two teams that know how to play the game. The White Sox and the Astros were not the favorites when the playoffs started, but both have earned the right to play for the ultimate title.

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