Very seldom in the last 30 years or so has the NFL had to defer to Major League Baseball on anything.
But now, it seems, they’re being forced to grovel a bit.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he had spoken with MLB counterpart Bud Selig twice, trying to get the Orioles to move a night game to the afternoon so the Ravens could open the season at home on Sept. 5.
“We’ve talked to Major League Baseball. I called Bud Selig twice and spoken to him about that, trying to work out an accommodation to allow the Orioles game to happen earlier in the afternoon and the Ravens to celebrate their Super Bowl championship with their fans at home. We think that’s the right thing,” Goodell said, via the Baltimore Sun. “We’ve agreed to move the game a little bit later to accommodate the baseball game. We think it would be a great day.
“As a kid who grew up an Orioles fan, to have an Orioles game in the afternoon and then go to the Ravens’ Super Bowl championship celebration for the kickoff game would be a great day. We hope that’s the way it happens.”
Goodell said opening on Wednesday again wasn’t an option because of Rosh Hashanah, and that if an agreement couldn’t be reached, they’d have to make the Ravens open on the road, which they’d prefer not to do.
“We think that’s wrong for the Ravens’ fans and we would not want to happen,” Goodell said.
The Orioles game against the White Sox that day is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. start. Baseball officials are hesitant to move it up in part because both teams are playing in different cities the night before (Baltimore’s in Cleveland, Chicago’s at New York), and quick turnaround might impact the pennant race (as much as one game out of 162 does).
A baseball source told the Sun the Orioles “aren’t concerned about the financial aspect of the conflict.”
(All together now, “Yeah, right.”)
“It doesn’t just involve the Orioles,” said Katy Feeney, MLB’s senior vice president for club relations and scheduling. “There is another team. The Orioles and White Sox have been on the schedule for quite awhile. Both teams are coming off a night game [on the road]. It’s late in the season. To ask them to play a day game is rough, plus you have to factor in the impact on attendance and broadcast revenue.
“I think mainly, from a baseball standpoint, to make that change is extremely difficult. The White Sox would take a broadcast revenue hit and the O’s would take a broadcast revenue and attendance hit. And there is a baseball operations impact. Conceivably both teams could be in playoff contention, so it wouldn’t be fair to them to make them play a day game after both teams played a night game and traveled the night before.”
Baseball officials haven’t had many opportunities to hold anything over the NFL in decades since they lost their position as America’s Pastime, so it’s natural that they’d enjoy it a little. They’re the older brother whose little brother grew up bigger and stronger, and the chance to dole out some noogies is probably something Selig relishes.