Major League Baseball announced today that all of its Thursday games are cancelled so teams can conduct their fantasy football drafts.
"If the games can be rescheduled, we'll consider doing that," said commissioner Bud Selig. "But teams have 161 other games to make the playoffs. They can miss one for our fantasy football drafts — and they're happy to."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he was happy that Selig made the call, possible fan backlash be damned.
"I'll admit, it's been hard to concentrate on baseball the last few weeks with the NFL season coming up," Girardi said. "Most of my visits to the mound have been to ask guys who they're thinking of picking in the 1st Round or when they're free to draft. It will be good to get the draft out of the way so we can get back to focusing on baseball until we have to set our lineups for Week 1. I applaud the commissioner for his decision."
Girardi says the Yankees now plan to draft at 7:10 p.m. on Thursday when they originally had a game scheduled against the Red Sox. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez has the first pick.
"He has the first pick because he came in dead-last again last year," said Girardi. "His team is called 'A-Rod #1.'"
Selig also announced that beginning with the first night of NFL action on Thursday, September 8th — and then continuing on each Sunday and Monday until the World Series is over — players will be able to take smartphones onto the field in order to track their fantasy teams during game action.
"The last thing I want as commissioner is for the product on the field to suffer because some outfielder misses a fly ball in Game 7 of the World Series because he's yelling into the crowd, asking fans if Marcedes Lewis has any catches," said Selig. "We just ask that the players only look at their team stats between pitches."
The commissioner has not yet ruled on a request from players that they be allowed to name their teams like fantasy football teams.
"There's a lot of history and brand strength behind a team name like the Boston Red Sox," said Selig. "I don't know if it's smart to change their name to 'Waist-High Fat Balls,' which was Jonathan Papelbon's idea."