Why the NFL Should Back Off Its Demands of the Baltimore Orioles and the MLB
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell are currently in a scheduling snafu with the MLB and commissioner Bud Selig.
The issue is simple—Goodell wants the MLB to move a scheduled contest between the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox at 7:05 on September 5 so that the NFL can kick off its season with a home game for the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
For the past decade, it has been a tradition for the Super Bowl champs to open the following NFL season on a Thursday night. This is made impossible as of now since the Ravens and Orioles share a parking lot (per NFL.com) and the two contests would overlap.
It's not the first public squabble between the NFL and MLB, but its one Goodell should give to America's past time.
Goodell told reporters he thinks it is only fair the MLB move the Orioles game to earlier in the day (per Yahoo):
"I have talked to Major League Baseball," Goodell told reporters. "I have called Bud Selig twice and spoken to him about that. We are 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 on Thursday night. We think that is the right thing. We have agreed to move the game a little bit later in the evening to try to accommodate the baseball game.
The problem is, it's not fair unless you're the NFL. It's not fair to the two teams involved, and it's not fair to the fans of the MLB.
For one, both the Orioles and White Sox expect to be serious contenders next season. Yes, it's only one game out of 162, but attempting to downplay the significance of an MLB contest in the month of September would simply be ignorant.
More importantly, moving the game up to accommodate the NFL would be doing the players a disservice. Both the White Sox and Orioles play late away games the night before, and then have to take an early-morning flight to Baltimore.
Baseball's getaway day rules do not permit teams to play a day game after playing the previous night in a different city. Not to mention the MLB itself would be getting in a heap of trouble with the MLB player's union if the move were given the green light.
So again, Goodell's demands of the MLB do not exactly make a lot of sense, even if he were to throw cash baseball's way for the inconvenience.
It's also worth mentioning that baseball has had its schedule set in stone for quite some time now, as it does every year in order to avoid conflicts such as this. It had the schedule finished before even knowing which franchise would win the Super Bowl.
The NFL is the league creating this conflict, not the MLB.
Yes, the MLB is a dwarf in comparison to the juggernaut the NFL has become in terms of ratings, popularity and the like. In this instance, it simply seems as if the bigger league is playing the bully because it can.
By now you're probably wondering why the NFL doesn't simply have the Ravens play on Wednesday night rather than Thursday, which would seem to be the most logical solution to the problem.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the NFL wants to avoid playing on Wednesday because it is the start of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. Even the Ravens' official Twitter account listed it as the reason the game couldn't be played on Wednesday.
If that screams an excuse for the NFL to avoid giving in to the MLB and land better ratings on a Thursday night, you'd probably be correct.
As the Sun goes on to point out, the NFL played on Rosh Hashanah just last season, and has many times before. The NFL even moved the season-opener for the New York Giants last season because it conflicted with President Obama's Democratic National Convention speech.
The NFL is attempting to preserve a fairly new tradition, and that's fine. That doesn't mean it has the right to a city (and its ridiculously limited amount of parking spaces) for a night just because a team happened to win a championship.
A pro-NFL excuse likely to be thrown around is that the MLB has no issues moving games around to account for weather. The difference here is that the weather is MLB's problem; the undetermined Super Bowl champion at the time of finalizing its own schedule is not.
How do you think this scheduling conflict should play out?
Say the MLB makes the matchup a day game. What happens if there is a rain delay and the two games conflict anyway? Or, perhaps the MLB agrees to move the game to a double-header later in the week. Then you have the potential for a delay or extra innings in back-to-back games that place unwarranted stress on the players all for the sake of pleasing the NFL.
The bottom line is, we'll see a fix for this minor dispute sooner rather than later. The safe bet is the MLB eventually caving in to the NFL's demands, but that doesn't mean the way Goodell went about it is alright.
Goodell's idea of an Orioles game followed by a Ravens contest is flawed on many levels. It's a safety hazard, and while it sounds good on paper for the citizens of Baltimore, would cause too many issues.
Goodell and the NFL should back off its demands of the MLB, but the reality of that happening is slim.
The NFL will likely win this round, but it would be nice to see Goodell and the league play a bit more fair in its dealings—the MLB schedule has been set for months.
Regardless of how the schedule snafu plays out, it's safe to say September 5 is going to be one interesting day in the world of professional sports.
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