10/26/2003 1:51 AM ET
Selig: A 'great year' for baseball
NEW YORK -- For Commissioner Bud Selig, the baseball season ended on a high note, punctuated Saturday night by the Marlins defeating the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. When it was all over, Selig was beaming as he presented the gold-flagged World Series trophy to Marlins owner Jeffery Loria.
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The Marlins won four games by the razor-thin margin of six total runs. In the end, the Marlins won on the road, negating the home field World Series advantage the Yankees were granted because the American League defeated the National League in the All-Game. It was the first time the All-Star Game and the World Series were so connected.
"Really, from July 15 on it's been a really great year for a lot of reasons," Selig said on the field at Yankee Stadium. "The players have been great, the postseason has been great. The focus has been where it should be. Whenever the focus stays on the field, it's great. Obviously, I'm partial, but this is the best game in the world. This game has produced moments in the last four weeks that no other game can."
What began with the Rangers' Hank Blalock hitting the homer off the Dodgers' Eric Gagne that gave the AL a come-from-behind win in the All-Star Game at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, turned into a postseason highlight reel.
There was Ivan Rodriguez holding onto the ball while taking a tumble at home plate on a hit from the Giants' J.T. Snow to end their NL Division Series. There was the Yankees' Aaron Boone hitting a walk-off homer against Boston to end the AL Championship Series on the absolute last pitch. There was the Cubs' Sammy Sosa hitting a shot almost over the center-field bleachers in Chicago's Wrigley Field.
And there was the Marlins' 23-year-old Josh Beckett setting the mighty Yankees down in order in the ninth inning to give the Marlins their second World Series title on the occasion of the 100th World Series game played at Yankee Stadium.
"It has been a showcase," Selig said. "As a kid you have the image of Bobby Thomson winning that playoff game with the home run heard 'round the world. I remember listening to that game on the radio. When you watched Aaron Boone hit that home run that night, that's the first thing I thought of.
"It was fantastic. It's the kind of thing that when they show the great moments of baseball history, they're going to show that. And there have been a lot of others. It's just been a remarkable run. And you know the interesting part? The games just got keeping getting better and better. Everything that's happened, good or bad, has contributed to the drama. There have been some days I've sat there in stunned amazement."
Baseball's run of good fortune, Selig said, began on Aug. 30, 2002, when Major League Baseball signed a four-year collective bargaining agreement with the players association. In the wake of the new CBA, two Wild Card teams -- the Angels and Marlins -- have won the World Series; small market teams, Minnesota and Oakland, made the playoffs in consecutive seasons, and the Marlins, with a payroll of about $52 million, ousted the Yankees, with a payroll of about $180 million.
"Everybody wanted to see the Cubs in the World Series, but people should embrace the Marlins for what they've accomplished," Selig said. "I understand the fervor for the Cubs, which I've grown up with for the last 60-plus years. I've been in Boston enough that I understand the history there. All that is reflective of a passion for the game in those areas.
"The Marlins are an intriguing story. People asked me if I was disappointed that the Cubs didn't play the Red Sox in the World Series. But after the first two rounds of the playoffs I had no right to be disappointed about anything. It was tremendous."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.