Thursday, September 13, 2001

Baseball, NFL ponder when to play

Enquirer news services

        MILWAUKEE — Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday he is committed to rescheduling all major-league games postponed in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States and indicated he is leaning toward resuming play Friday.

        Selig announced earlier in the day that he was postponing games scheduled for both Wednesday and today, extending the total stoppage of play to three games, unprecedented in the game's history.

        “In these absolutely horrific circumstances, we're trying to do the right thing,” Selig said from outside of the commissioner's office in downtown Milwaukee.

        Selig said the postponed games would be replayed even if they have to be added to the end of the regular-season schedule, which would push back postseason play. There are many considerations within the game itself, including tight pennant races in the National League as well as Barry Bonds' pursuit of Mark McGwire's home run record.

        “We're not going to eliminate them,” Selig said of the postponed games. “They will be played.

        On a prime page of the sports calendar, the terrorist attacks left leagues struggling Wednesday with how to go about their business without offending a nation mourning its dead.

        NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue consulted owners, union leaders and the White

        House about whether to play Sunday. The league said it wouldn't decide before today.

        “From a personal standpoint — not as a coach but as an American — we want to play,” said Brian Billick, coach of the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. “I don't want cowards to dictate what we do in this country.”

        But some players were adamant: They didn't want to fly.

        “The last thing we want to do is get on a plane to California for a game when all four of those planes that were hijacked were going to California,” said Vinny Testaverde, whose New York Jets are scheduled to play the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday. “I don't think anyone wants to play.”

        Tiger Woods was in St. Louis with most of the world's top players for the $5 million World Golf Championship that was called off Wednesday, along with the PGA Tour's Tampa Bay Classic, a senior event in North Carolina, and a tournament in Oregon. The PGA Tour hadn't canceled a tournament in five years.

        The LPGA Tour will play its tournament in Oregon, starting Friday as scheduled.


        Five of baseball's minor leagues canceled the rest of their playoffs; others called off games through today.

        Dozens of major colleges postponed football games. The Atlantic Coast and Big East confer ences called off games, and the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10 were divided internally — with each of those conferences playing some games and putting off others. The Southeastern Conference, though, decided to let its schools play, saying games “present a meaningful opportunity to bring our people together in a common expression of sympathy and mourning.”

        Nevertheless, Kentucky of the SEC will not play Saturday, after Indiana joined with in-state Purdue in postponing their home games.

        Boxing was affected, too. The middleweight unification title bout between Bernard Hopkins and Felix Trinidad was postponed. It had been scheduled for Saturday at Madison Square Garden, about 3 miles from the Twin Towers.

        The NHL canceled its first day of the preseason, scrapping 12 exhibition games scheduled for Saturday. The league will decide today when to resume playing.

        Major League Soccer, which postponed four games Wednesday, will announce a decision today on the status of the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.

        On the other side of the Atlantic, games in two major European soccer tournaments were postponed.

        Complicating the decisions and logistics in the United States were problems with air travel. Flights resumed Wednesday afternoon only for passengers whose flights were diverted Tuesday.

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