Today marks the 10th anniversary of the greatest atrocity in the history of history: the night the Major League Baseball game ended in a tie! Picture it: Milwaukee, 2002. The American and National League teams find themselves in a tie game after nine innings. They’re out of bench players, and the only pitchers remaining are Freddy Garcia and Vicente Padilla (no, I’m not kidding, those two really were All-Stars once upon a time). After they both pitch two innings, the decision is made to end the game, the All-Star game!, in a tie.
The response is swift and merciless. The crowd at Miller Park jeers the decision, erupting in chants of “let them play,” despite the fact that, you know, there aren’t any pitchers left and the lineups are made up of quite a few tertiary All-Stars at best. The next day, sportswriters across the country take to the page to denounce the game, baseball, Bud Selig, astroturf, and nutless Drumstick cones. The players are panned for “not caring” about the game. People whose livelihood involved sitting in the press box every night lament that no one on the field would be willing to jeopardize one of their colleague’s career to win an exhibition game, like noted saint Pete Rose did in 1970*, when players were rightly exploited and underpaid to the extent that the bonus money they got for winning made them play the game like it actually meant something. Bud Selig, the commissioner who is in the process of negotiating a CBA that will include a new drug testing regime without provoking a labor stoppage is derided as a bumbling, ineffectual, dolt in over his head in the job. That picture of him throwing his hands in the air becomes iconic.
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