KANSAS CITY, Mo.: For his final game as baseball commissioner, Bud Selig was able to see the low-budget Kansas City Royals compete with the high-spending San Francisco Giants for the title.
Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night featured wild-card teams that had already played during the regular season. In a finale hosted by the club whose league won the All-Star game. With managers able to contest calls by umpires, the final decision coming from a replay room far from the field.
All those innovations came during Selig’s 22 years in charge.
Yet his biggest imprint before departing in January may be the economic changes he helped usher into the tradition-bound game.
“It’s our job to provide hope and faith and have the system where teams can compete,” he said during the All-Star game FanFest last summer. “Not just on the size of the market, but on what they do.”
With the 19th-biggest payroll at $97 million, Kansas City had a chance to become the first team from among the bottom half of spenders to win the title since the 2003 Florida Marlins. The Royals extended San Francisco (sixth at $165 million) to a seventh game in their first postseason appearance since winning the 1985 World Series.
Then the Milwaukee Brewers owner, Selig took over as baseball’s boss in September 1992 after helping lead the group that forced the resignation of Commissioner Fay Vincent.
As chairman of the executive council, he pushed for a salary cap that led to a 7½-month strike and the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. He didn’t get the cap, but revenue sharing and a luxury tax were in the labor contracts that emerged, and they helped the middle and smaller markets compete.
“The ’90s were painful. We had to change the whole economic structure,” he said. “So today there’s hope and faith in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, the Twin Cities, on and on and on. As a result, baseball is so much stronger and so much better.”
Selig, now 80, presided over nearly one-fifth of all World Series games ever played: 121 of 641.
Another error on anthem
Oops, another national anthem stumble at the World Series.
Opera star Joyce DiDonato did just fine singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Game 7 Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Then, as the longtime Royals fan from Kansas was walking off the field, she tripped in the batter’s box and managed to catch herself. But after regaining her balance, the Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano took another step or two and fell to the dirt, as dramatically as she might on the stages of the world’s greatest opera houses.
The 45-year-old DiDonato laughed at her misstep and the Kansas City crowd cheered her effort.
Before Game 5 in San Francisco, county singer Aaron Lewis messed up the lyrics to the anthem. Lewis, acclaimed as the lead singer of the metal band Staind, later apologized for the mistake.
Ratings still in tank
Television ratings for the Royals’ lopsided World Series victory were by far the lowest ever for a Game 6.
Kansas City’s 10-0 win Tuesday earned an 8.1 rating and 13 share on Fox. That’s down 28 percent from the previous low, an 11.3 for last year’s Game 6 between Boston and St. Louis when the Red Sox clinched the title.
The rating peaked with a 9.5/15 from 9-9:30 p.m. EDT as the Royals built a big lead then fell from there.
The 8.1 was the highest of the series, with a chance for a much bigger number for Wednesday night’s Game 7.
Ratings represent the percentage of homes with televisions tuned to a program. Shares measure the percentage of households with TVs in use at the time.