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09/11/01 6:00 PM ET

Bauman: A time to mourn

This story was originally published on MLB.com in 2001.

As much as we all love baseball, as much as it can become a staple of our daily lives, there are times when we have to acknowledge that it is not of life-and-death significance.

This is one of those times.

The horrific terrorist acts Tuesday morning do not lend themselves to contemplation of pennant races or magic numbers. As Ecclesiastes suggests: "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." This would be "a time to mourn."

For that reason, and for whatever security concerns are pertinent, Major League Baseball had no choice but to eliminate its schedule of games for Tuesday night. There may be more cancellations. Entire series may be lost. This is all very unfortunate. But it is nothing like tragic.

The real tragedies have already occurred. At a time such as this, it is not the role of a national institution, such as baseball, to provide easy diversion. It is a time for such a national institution to join in the mourning over the loss of lives and to simply stop for a moment and join in the general search for an understanding of how much our world has changed in the last 24 hours.

There is a precedent for this approach. Those of us who attended the 1989 World Series recall that the Series was halted for 10 days after an earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area. The devastation and loss of life was terrible. It was also a fraction of what occurred Tuesday. Major League Baseball in 1989 made the decision to get out of the way for a time as the people of San Francisco and Oakland and the surrounding communities mourned their losses and attempted to put their lives back together.

That was an appropriate decision then. And now, what we are all faced with is not a local or a regional catastrophe, but a national tragedy. And what we are looking at here is not a natural disaster, but man-made acts of destruction upon America and our way of life. Baseball can get out of the way for a few days while we deal with the shared sorrow and attempt to comprehend what all of this means.

To have played the 15 scheduled games Tuesday night would have been to dismiss, in a way, the human suffering of the victims, and the grief of their families and friends. And playing the schedule would have minimized the impact that these appalling acts of terrorism are going to have on all of America.

As a national institution that has stood since the Civil War, baseball's obligation here is not to provide distractions. As an American institution it has the obligation to pause for a moment, to, symbolically at least, join in the mourning and the distress and the search for answers.

There will be a time when baseball can play a part in the national healing, simply by being baseball, by playing its schedule, by giving people something else to think about. Maybe that time is as soon as this weekend. I don't know.

"That is the thing now, attempting to see what would be the right time (to resume playing)," Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig said Tuesday afternoon. The Commissioner said he would not make a decision until Wednesday. He did say that he recalled the National Football League's 1963 decision to play just days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and said he considered that decision a mistake.

At some point, the season will resume. It will not be lost, and there will be a time when its presence will offer some solace. But right now baseball, by shutting down for a moment, or longer, has acted in the only way it could have acted, in the face of the magnitude of Tuesday's tragic events.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.