August 17, 2009

Boston’s Dan Shaughnessy wondered, “Picked-up pieces while wondering if anyone else thinks it’s a coincidence that Babe Ruth (1948) and
Elvis Presley (1977) died on this same day. The Sultan and the King . . .
■ Bronson Arroyo is Bill James’s kind of guy. Arroyo told USA Today last week that he regularly takes supplements not approved by Major League Baseball.
Here’s part of James’s recent manifesto on the topic of steroids: “Drugs like steroids will not disappear from our culture. It will grow, eventually to become so common that it might almost be said to be ubiquitous . . . If we look into the future, then, we can reliably foresee a time in which everybody is going to be using steroids or their pharmaceutical descendants . . . You can like it or you can dislike it, but your grandchildren are going to be steroid users. Therefore, they are very likely to be people who do not regard the use of steroids as a moral failing . . . With the passage of time, more people will come to understand that the Commissioner’s periodic spasms of self-righteousness do not constitute baseball law.’’
Interesting. James is listed in the Red Sox directory as “Senior Advisor/Baseball Operations,’’ on the same page with club “Director’’ George Mitchell. Since the (“none of our guys ever cheated’’) Sox aren’t likely to sanction one of their own, I wonder if MLB might have a problem with a club official saying yes to steroids. Reached at his office and asked about James, Bud Selig said, “No comment.’’
■ Jerry Remy’s visit to Fenway Wednesday was another reminder of the bond between baseball communities and their favorite announcers. Not even the great Curt Gowdy and Ned Martin ever got this much love. The brave RemDawg has become as beloved in Boston as Vin Scully in Los Angeles and he does everyone a service by speaking publicly about his post-cancer depression.
■ It says a lot about big-time college athletics if Rick Pitino can survive at Louisville. All you have to do is win. Everybody has moments of indiscretion, but Louisville is supposed to be in the business of educating young people. University president James Ramsey says it’s time for everyone to move on and calls Pitino “our guy.’’ Huh? Alabama football and Iowa State basketball dumped coaches for far less. Maybe the administrators in Louisville consider this a teachable moment. More likely, they just want to beat Kentucky. Pathetic.
■  When you see Jason Varitek interviewed in front of his locker after games, he appears to be wearing one of the “Snuggies’’ advertised on late-night television.
■ Dumping Gatorade on the winning coach? The tradition is believed to have started with the 1985 Giants dousing Bill Parcells. Just as the Tuna gets credit for the Gatorade bath, you should know that our own Dennis Eckersley invented the now-overused term “walkoff.’’ And the first touchdown celebration? In some books of lore, the author of end zone moves was speedy Giants wideout Homer Jones, who spiked the ball behind him when he caught TD passes in 1965.
Jones invented the move because teammates Alex Webster and Frank Gifford had been fined for throwing the football into the stands after scoring.                                                                                                                               
■ What’s more fun in the World Series: Pedro and the Phillies or Manny and the Dodgers?  
■ Looks like Joba Chamberlain will miss the Red Sox at Fenway next weekend. Rats. Youk was just getting ready for another bull rush to the mound.                                                  
■ Did anyone else notice what a fine job St. Louis did during All-Star week pretending Mark McGwire never existed? Big Mac was like a Russian leader
erased from the Kremlin walls when the midsummer classic came to the city by the Arch.                                       
■ Not sure if Edgar Renteria and Matt Clement are still on the books, but the Theo Epstein administration has wasted way more than $100 million on the Lugos, Smoltzes, and other guys who were dealt or released with money still owed.                                       
■ New parlor game for Red Sox fans: Will David Ortiz be a member of the Red Sox next year?                                                                                                                                  
 ■ Alex Rodriguez has successfully reinvented himself. It’s been all baseball since the spring training steroids fiasco. He has even kept his relationship with Kate Hudson under the radar. But nothing really changes for the guy until he gets something done in October.        
■ Truly sad to see softball axed again by the International Olympic Committee. It’s easy to go without baseball in the Olympics – there’s no good time to stage a hardball tournament and we already have the annoying World Baseball Classic. But softball players have few options once their college days are done.                                               
 ■ Wonder if Max Yasgur’s friends called him “Yaz.’’ Today was Day 2 of the festival in Bethel, N.Y., 40 years ago.
Scott mused on  Sunday:                                                                                                      
*“The baseball players’ union made that 2003 survey testing necessary because of its determination to fight any testing. Then the union failed to properly educate the players. Then for the survey testing it signed off on a confusing system the union now seems not to understand. Then the union failed to destroy the “guilty” list when it had a chance. So it’s the media’s fault that some players are having their reputations tarnished unfairly?     
* The Raiders showed a taste of their blitz package Thursday night. But once the games actually count, will Al Davis really allow his defensive coordinator to turn loose the dog? Will pastels dominate Davis’ new fall wardrobe?                                                                                                
*”We’re long overdue to have (golf) in the Olympics,” says Tiger Woods. Amen. I don’t know how many times I’ve been at the Olympics and said, “It’s fun watching Usain Bolt in the 100, but oh, how I long for the thrill of watching “Pacedrag” Harrington take six minutes to read a four-foot putt.”                                                                                                                                                   
 *The Dallas Cowboys will sell 35,000 SRO “Party Passes” for each home game. “Hey, let’s go fight the traffic, pay to park, stand up four hours in a mob of
35,000 people, maybe catch a glimpse of the game and chug $10 beers! Par-tay!”                                                                     
*Sitting down is so overrated. Now I hear the Cowboys will eliminate toilet seats in their new stadium and call the restrooms Party Potties.




Dick Heller said that, “There is much to admire about Jesse Jackson, preacher, lifetime civil rights activist and former presidential candidate. Yet it’s more than
passing peculiar that this renowned minister insists on sticking his nose into matters about which he knows less than nothing.
Case in point: Jackson’s recent mention of Michael Vick’s name in the same breath or two as that of Jackie Robinson. When it comes to a reach, the Rev
seemed to be striving for a spot in the Guinness Book of Records – and then some.
You probably already have an opinion of Jackson because nobody is neutral about him. I wouldn’t suggest his motive is impure – merely inane. Either his
knowledge of sports history is flawed or he needs to find some new advisers Maybe both.
In an interview with the New York Times, Jackson said that in some ways Vick’s battle to re-enter the NFL was similar to Robinson’s integrating major league
baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He also raised the question – Jackson is very good at raising questions, worthwhile or otherwise – of whether there
has been collusion among NFL owners to keep Vick out of the league.
“I want to make [this] an issue,” Jackson said. “I want teams to explain why they have a quarterback who has less skills but is playing, or at least is on the taxi
squad, and a guy with more skills can’t get into training camp.”
Come again? Or even the first time? Do you think the reluctance of most teams to add Vick just might have to do with the torturing and murder of animals, who
after all are God’s creatures, too, as Jackson is surely aware? The Eagles finally took a huge PR gamble last week by signing him to back up Donovan McNabb,
although Commissioner Roger Goodell might not let him show his face in a game until mid-October.
Regardless, making even the most tenuous link between Vick and Robinson, other than the fact that both are famous athletes who happen to be black, is
ludicrous and laughable. You might as well link the names of Babe Ruth and Baby Ruth. Or maybe those of Sinatra and Manilow, Olivier and Pee Wee Herman
or Golda Meir and Goldie Hawn.
Go ahead – draw up your own set(s) of unlikely pairings. It’s fun, even if Jackson’s pathetic ponderings weren’t.
Let’s look at the record, as Al Smith (the former New York governor, not the ex-major league outfielder) used to say.
Vick recently left home confinement after serving 23 months for participating in an unlawful dogfighting ring and at least acquiescing to the drowning and hanging
of canines who didn’t measure up in combat.
Nobody disagrees that such behavior was horrific. The question was whether Vick deserved to play in the NFL again after being conditionally reinstated by
Yes: He has done his time, paid the price and shown the proper remorse.
No: His actions were so unconscionable as to stamp him forever unfit to make millions as an NFL quarterback and parade as a prominent if besmirched role
At this late date – 62 years after Robinson’s debut with the Dodgers, 53 after his retirement and 37 after his death – there should be no need to remind anyone of
his talent and courage. Except, apparently, Jesse Jackson.
During a social era when much of America was segregated, Robinson withstood the slings, arrows and spikes of outrageous bigots to emerge as one of
baseball’s best, most exciting and most admired players. Nowadays his No. 42 is displayed in every major league ballpark as a poignant reminder of his travails
and triumph. And, as a further tribute, no future player will wear that number.
Despite the positive blatherings about Vick by Eagles coach Andy Reid (“He deserves a second chance. He has proven he’s on the right track,” etc.) the
quarterback is a questionable commodity on both competitive and moralistic fronts. Plus, his former efforts on behalf of the Falcons strongly suggest he should
be a running back, although most leather luggers are on the downside or headed there at age 29.
Meanwhile, Robinson’s place in history is etched in stone as well as horsehide. He took a big advance step for the civil rights crusade of the 1960s that
transformed our country, Jesse Jackson, another leader of what has gone down in history simply as “the movement,” knows that.
When it comes to equating the burdens borne by Jackie Robinson and Michael Vick, he should know better.
And take his foot out of his mouth.


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