Who Dat?

Back in the 80s, long before the X-Games existed, Tom Haig traveled the world as an extreme athlete. He visited more than 50 countries as an international high diver, doing multiple somersault tricks from over 90 feet.

That life came crashing down one Sunday morning in 1996. While training on his mountain bike, he smashed into the grill of a truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. But less than a year later he completed a 100-mile ride on a hand-cycle and traveled by himself to Europe and the Middle East.

Since then he has continued to travel the world as a consultant, writer and video producer. He spent six months launching a Tibetan radio station in the Himalayas and shot documentary shorts on disability in Bangladesh, France, Albania, Ghana and most recently Nepal.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

When You Say Bud!

It’s finally over with the Phillies winning the longest game in major league history 4-3, clinching only their second title in 120 years. But the 2008 World Series won’t be remembered for anything except rain and the typical bungling by Commissioner Bud Selig.

Some 50 hours before its’ completion, Cole Hamels, the eventual WS MVP, started Game 5 with a chilling North Eastern fall soaking looming off in the distance. Hamels was sensational pitching six innings of two-run ball, which during the regular season, would have earned him a rain-shortened victory.

But unbenounced to… well… ANYBODY… Selig had decided that no decisive World Series game should end before nine full innings. While you have to agree with the decision, it was plenty obvious that Selig made up the decision on the spot without telling the broadcast team or even (god forbid) the umpires.

What started out as a persistent drizzle in the third inning turned into a steady (and COLD!) drenching rain by the top of the fifth. Had Selig informed anyone of his decision, the umpires would have suspended the game before the fifth inning instead of letting it be played in a wetlands more suitable for a Baltimore Oriole or a Toronto Blue Jay. The managers were forced to manage the playing conditions instead of the game. The playing field became dangerous and unfair as evidenced by Jimmy Rollins dropping a routine pop-up after it drifted more than 30 feet in a gust.

So Selig, as is his M.O., turned a baseball classic into a television side-show. The most important game of the year and the most important game of the lives of any of the players and managers, turned into a random chance event more resembling the World Series of Poker. When Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton scored the tying run in the top of the sixth on a run he couldn’t have possibly manufactured under normal conditions, Selig was off the hook for the rain-shortened game and called for the infield tarp.

The broadcast team (and thus the FANS) was kept completely in the dark on Selig’s supposed pre-game decision to guarantee nine innings. Two days later with every sports pundit in America weighing in on what should have been a non-event, the most bizarre baseball broadcast got underway. Fox went on air to broadcast 3 ½ innings that would decide the fate of a sport that had just finished more than 26,000 innings. Had Tampa come back to win the game and take the series back to Florida, the story of ‘The Undeserved Run’ may have been compelling enough to write up in baseball lore. But when their bats died and the overwhelming favorite Phillies threw their gloves in the air, the 2008 World Series was just as soon forgotten. The 5th straight series in which the loser managed at best only one win.

Selig has decided to extend the 2009 Major League Season into November so we can expect more of this junk at the end of next season.

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