Baseball Blunder Boils Bush's Blood

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Many Americans were outraged at the decision by Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig to halt the All Star game in the 11th inning with the score tied 7-7. And their number included the First Fan, President George W. Bush. "He thought it was ridiculous," says a senior White House aide of Bush's reaction to the decision to halt play when both teams had run out of pitchers. A former owner of the Texas Rangers, Bush watched the game, although not to the bitter end, since play continued well after his 9:30pm bedtime.

In baseball-obsessed Bushland the controversy was a topic of conversation throughout the next day. "Who didn't think it might go to 11 innings?" Bush asked, amazed at the lack of preparation. Various aides ran through the possible solutions with their boss, weighing whether the teams should have used pitchers who had already cooled down or put players on the mound who don't normally pitch. While the president did dismiss a suggestion that the final victor be determined by home run derby of each team's biggest hitters, he offered no suggestion for how the "pathetic" resolution, as he called it, might have been avoided.

In the end, Bush took a political lesson from the debacle. He suggested that Communications Director Dan Bartlett dispatch an intern to draw up a case study of how Selig bobbled the matter as an object lesson in what not to do in a crisis.