SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Stick It In Your Ear, Bud!

Bud Selig is at it again.

The baseball commissioner is committed to making one-time parodied commissioner Bowie Kuhn the Abraham Lincoln of baseball. Put differently, compared to Kuhn, Selig plays Bozo to Kuhn's Laurence Olivier.

Commissioner Selig doesn't like manifestations of controversy and prefers that fans tone down their derision of Barry Bonds. Click here to read the article on sportsillustrated.com.

Can you believe that?

The Commissioner is lucky that he doesn't attend many games in person, because he'd hear boos galore. It was under his regime that l'affaire steroids took place. It was under his regime that the owners laughed their way to the bank, watching mammoth men hit towering home runs. It didn't take a rocket scientist or brain surgeon to figure out that Henry Aaron hit all of his homers at 6'0", 175 pounds and Willie Mays was 5'11" and about the same weight. The guys who hit the moon shots on Bud's watch were not the size of scat backs, but rather the size of tight ends, and we're not talking Ivy League tight ends, we're talking beef-fed Big 12 men.

So, having done nothing, and having watched three of the icons humiliate themselves in public -- Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa made fools of themselves before Congress (and given Congress's overall performance that's saying something, that the grandstanding of Congress couldn't eclipse the testimony of the baseball players) -- Selig is dismayed that the remaining player, the Fourth Horseman, is getting booed too loudly and hearing too much negativity.

He cannot be serious, can he?

Can he?

Barry Bonds has brought this controversy on himself. I was at Citizens Bank Park a few weekends ago, and what I heard was a spirited crowd cheering on their red-hot hometown Phillies. Yes, Bonds did hear the boos and see some signs, and, yes, the national media was there waiting for some hard-nosed blue-collar union guy from the river wards throw a Molotov cocktail at Bonds' spot in left field. Yes, they were there to see Bonds try to pass Babe Ruth on the all-time HR list. But they also were there to see the sharks circle.

Except it didn't happen. Okay, so the fans yelled "steroids" or "cheater", but can you blame them? Can you blame them after the players' union circled its wagons and protected the transgressors at the expense of the clean guys? Can you blame them after the baseball media chose to ignore the bloating of the players' biceps and records because they chose to be fans instead of journalists? Can you blame them after the owners chose to ignore the issue because the fans were turning out to watch Michelin men hit the ball out of the park and loved the corresponding "cha-ching" that they heard every time a buffed batter approached the plate?

No, you can't. They're voicing their opinions at the betrayals they have had to endure because organized baseball and the so-called guardians of the game refused to do their jobs. The owners, players and writers need to hear this -- even if it's slightly unfair that Bonds and only Bonds has to endure the catcalls when many others deserve them -- and they need to work to make sure that the causes of this public derision do not recur.

So, Bud, let me give you some advice. Sit there and keep quiet.

Because if you keep it up and then show your face in my hometown, I hope that they boo you out of the park.

Public manifestations of controversy?

Give me a break.

Better that the fans boo than they stay away, which, quite frankly, is what this group of owners, players and front-office people deserve. Then what would you do?

But remember this -- it's our game. Players, owners, writers and commissioners come and go, but the fans and the bonds that they share over generations remain. It's always been our game, and it always will be.

Because we won't let anyone -- including owners, commissioners, players, union officials and even writers -- ruin it forever.

1 Comments:

Anonymous The Sports Curmudgeon said...

Prof:

Watch out. You are beginning to sound as cranky as me; that's not good.

I don't think Selig could possibly have said anything other than what he said about this situation. It would have been "unseemly" for the Commish to say that he's glad that fans are booing Barry Bonds because he - the Commish - thinks that Bonds is a lying, cheating weasel. Remember, he is waiting for the findings of the blue ribbon panel chaired by George Mitchell to tell him what actually went on; he can't appear now to already know what happened.

And if he had made some haughty statement along the lines of "it's a free country and people have an inalienable right to express their opinions", we'd be skewering him for trying to be ever so diplomatic.

Maybe he went a bit further than he had to have, but I really don't think there was another path for him to take here.

11:29 PM  

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