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NL: Selig promises end to late playoff starts

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 6, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Commissioner Bud Selig has apologized to Cardinals fans for a late playoff start time this week, and he vowed it won't happen again.

The Cardinals opened the NL division series at Arizona on Tuesday night. The game began after 10 p.m. CDT, making it hard for many local fans to watch.

"To say I'm sorry is the understatement of the year," Selig told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday. "You can't imagine how badly I feel. The team fights all year to get into first place and this was not good."

The game started so late because the television networks that show the playoffs, along with baseball officials, do not want to have two games on at the same time.

There were three games Tuesday, and two were out West, complicating the broadcast schedule.

"Our people had pored over this for hundreds of hours with the networks," Selig said. "It's a very tough situation, one where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't."

Selig, however, said he has ordered that there will be no more repeat performances.

"I told our people, "No more 10 p.m. starts,' " Selig said. "That's the end of it."

* * *

HE SHALL BE A GOOD MAN: Livan Hernandez, the 1997 World Series MVP, will get another chance at postseason glory, even though he might not deserve it.

Hernandez will start Game 4 of the Giants' division series against Atlanta today despite a 12-16 regular season, the fifth straight season in which he has lost at least 11 games. He pitched 216 innings in 2002 and had three shutouts, but his ERA was over 4.00 in each of the past five months.

"I never lose in October," he said. "I'll try to continue. I like the big games. I've been working hard. This is the time to pitch good. Let's see what happens Sunday."

Hernandez's 5-0 career postseason record was more than enough to get him a start from Giants manager Dusty Baker, who's always loyal to his veteran players such as Hernandez, J.T. Snow and Marvin Benard.

"We have four (starters) that are pretty close and equal in ability," Baker said. "Nobody really stands out on our staff. We'd much rather go with a rested Livan than somebody else on two or three days' rest."

CALL FROM BIG MAC: With Scott Rolen out for the series, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa got a call from an old third baseman offering to fill in: Mark McGwire.

McGwire was a third baseman in the A's minor-league system before landing at first base, where he played for La Russa both in Oakland and St. Louis. A knee injury forced McGwire to retire after St. Louis lost to Arizona in the first round of last season's playoffs.

Friday, the day after Rolen was hurt in Game 2 of the NLDS, the 70-homer man called La Russa's office.

"McGwire asked if he needed to start taking ground balls," La Russa said, joking that he toyed with calling the commissioner's office to seek an exception to place McGwire on the roster.

"That would have been something, starting Mark at third base," La Russa said.

But what about McGwire's knee?

"I think his knee is good to play 18 holes every day," La Russa said.

ADIOS, ENRON: One of the preparations for Game 3 at Pacific Bell Park was the removal of an Enron sign on the main centerfield scoreboard. It was replaced by Carl's Jr., a giant yellow star sporting a smiley face that's the signature for the fast-food chain.

A federal bankruptcy judge ruled Thursday that the Giants could remove the sign, featuring Enron Corp.'s tilted "E" logo. Enron only had a regular-season contract on the sign, the team said, so Carl's Jr. purchased the 17-by-33 foot space for the playoffs.

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