Below are excerpts from various sources regarding today’s shocking announcement from MLB.
Press Release: First Annual MLB Hunger Games
MLB.Com – 7 hours ago
The Capitol (AP) — President Selig announced today that Major League Baseball is replacing its annual All-Star Game with the First Annual MLB Hunger Games, to be held in Kansas City from July 9 through July 11, 2012. Each MLB team will be required to provide one position player and one pitcher to participate in a winner-take-all fight to the death.
The team providing the winning “tribute” — as each participant is called — will get the expanded wild card play-off spot for the 2012 season. The league represented by the winning tribute will also get home field advantage in the World Series.
As President Selig, wearing a white rose in his lapel, explained to an enthusiastic press corps: “This time it really counts.”
The Business of Sports Weblog: Forum on MLB Hunger Games
WallStreetJournal.Com – 3 hours ago
Heyman: My sources say that the owners made this move in frustration over years of being unable to impose a salary cap.
Stark: Yes, you can see how President Selig meticulously paved the path for today’s announcement. First, he gets the Player’s Union to agree to require all players to appear in Kansas City for All-Star Weekend, no matter what. Then, he gets the extra playoff slot in place as the fan incentive in rooting for their tributes in the Games.
Rosenthal: The union was caught completely off guard by today’s announcement. I’m hearing that they’re preparing a complaint for the Labor Relations Board. But the complaint won’t be based on the allegation that subjecting union members to death by hand-to-hand combat constitutes an unfair labor practice, but rather, that any change in the way that World Series home field advantage is determined requires union consent under the collective bargaining agreement.
Stark: I see this as a brilliant marketing move by MLB. Just look at the popularity of the bloodlust sports — cage fighting and the UFC — especially amongst the young demographic.
Neyer: I think MLB is totally misreading its fan base. I could see this working in the NFL. Definitely, the NHL. But baseball is the pastoral game, it’s about coming home.
Heyman: I think those are outdated notions, Rob.
Neyer: May I remind you that baseball has zero teams named after a bird of prey, but three teams named after songbirds.*
* The last words spoken by Rob Neyer before being turned into an Avox.
Twins Pick First MLB Hunger Game Tributes
Minneapolis Star Tribune – 1 hour ago
Minnesota was the first district to select its participants in the First Annual MLB Hunger Games, to be held this summer in Kansas City. In today’s selection process to the MLB Hunger Games – known as the “reaping” – Twins owner Jim Pohlad drew the names of Carl Pavano and Justin Morneau, as the pitcher and position player to represent the Minnesota Twins as Hunger Game tributes.
In a surprise move — and in an apparent effort to put to rest lingering questions about his toughness — Joe Mauer volunteered to replace Justin Morneau as a tribute.
“Even if Justin won, he was going to have a tough time coming back to help the team after the rigors of the Hunger Games, I figure,” explained Mauer on why he volunteered to replace Morneau. “You just can’t mess around with concussions.”
Ron “Haymitch” Gardenhire will be mentoring the Twins tributes, Pavano and Mauer, at the Hunger Games. He had several initial thoughts on his tributes’ chances.
“I think Joe stands a pretty good chance. [Kansas City’s] Kaufman Stadium doesn’t favor the home run hitter so much, so he should be able to use his gap power. And, as a catcher, he’ll have a leg up on most everyone with his familiarity with the use of the protective gear.”
“Pavs, well he’s not going to blow his competition away. He’s going to have to survive on craft and guile. We’ll definitely want him to pitch to contact.”
“There’s no way we should be going head to head with the big boys from Boston or New York. I think we’ll look to form some alliances with some small market teams, let the teams from the East beat each other up, and see if we can get a survivor from there. “
The other MLB teams will be selecting their tributes as the preseason progresses.