SAN FRANCISCO -- Commissioner Bud Selig had his annual luncheon chat today with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America and it covered all the expected topics: He's made no decision about attending Barry Bonds' home run watch, he's thrilled with attendance and with the idea of starting the World Series on a Wednesday rather than Saturday, he wishes there was a test for human growth hormone.
But I was piqued when Selig was asked about what he admittedly called MLB's "vexing" blackout rules. The No. 1 email complaint I get is from Buffalo fans who can't watch the Cleveland Indians on ESPN, MLB.com or the Extra Innings package because the Tribe claims us in their blackout zone even though we're three hours away. The Yankees, Mets and Pirates do likewise but we can see the first two and nobody cares about the pathetic Bucs.
But people want to see their ex-Bisons in Cleveland and the Indians won't let them. That's crazy. Here's what Selig said about what he perceives is progress on the blackout situation:
"It's never perfect but I will tell you my mail has decreased tremendously on that score. When I do get an occasional letter, I send it to my broadcast people and say, "Call them.'' Common sense applies when people say they're not getting something they want that really doesn't affect the home club or any other club. Then you try to change it. I think we've made progress. We've talked about the areas that were particularly vexing. We've had very few complaints now. Last year we had quite a few."
There you have it. You want to see the Indians, I'd say write a letter to Selig at the MLB offices, 245 Park Avenue, New York, NY, 10167. Tell him you think it's ridiculous the Tribe (and the Pirates) are allowed to black us out when their regional sports networks are not available here. I'd love to hear if you get a response.