UNWRITTEN RULES; SUPER-CONFERENCE NOT SO SUPER; POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE ROLE MODELS

April 29, 2010

Scott Ostler listed some little known unwritten baseball rules in the SF Chronicle.

“Alex Rodriguez had an excuse for oafishly trotting across the mound against the A’s on Thursday as he was returning from third base to first base after a foul ball. A-Rod stumbled off-course when he was blinded by stadium lights reflecting off the 119 diamonds in his newest World Series ring.
A’s pitcher Dallas Braden remonstrated A-Rod for breaking one of baseball’s unwritten rules. “What are some other unwritten rules?” you ask. Well if I write them, they won’t be unwritten, will they?

Nonetheless, here are some of baseball’s more obscure unwritten rules:

It is bad form for an infielder to sneak up behind an opposing baserunner and give him a wedgie.

During a home run trot, a player should not wave a lit sparkler, not even on the Fourth of July.

Also uncool: Taking your home run trot on a pogo stick.

During chats between the first baseman and an opposing baserunner, don’t discuss politics.

When an opposing infielder is chasing a foul ball near your dugout, it is bad etiquette to spill a bucket of baseballs into his path.

Slipping a whoopie cushion under first base? Oh, that’s really mature.

A pitcher is looking for trouble if he “accidentally” pitches the resin bag.

When a baserunner scores by bowling over the catcher, it is considered showboating for the runner to strike the Heisman pose.

Unless he is looking for trouble, the on-deck hitter should not try to distract the pitcher by playing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on a banjo.

“Rally caps” in the dugout are OK. Not acceptable: backward and inside-out “rally pants.”

Bob Molinaro clued us in on an alarming possible change in college football on HamptonRoads.com:
“College football for fat cats.
Or should I say, for even fatter cats.
That’s what is being proposed with the anticipation of four superconferences.
Like the cat that swallowed the canary, the 16 teams in each superleague are going to be fat and happy, while the rest of college football – the non-BCS
schools – will be asked to sip sour milk from a small saucer stuck over in the corner.
This is the future that many see for college football. And amazingly, many people are not alarmed.
If the conference realignment being discussed today by conference commissioners and athletics directors becomes reality – and with greed as a motivating factor, chances are it will – the nature of the sport will change again.
For the worse.
You might not think so. And you’ll certainly be told otherwise – maybe already have been – because the privileged conferences are favored by the media. But believe it: T his is not good for college football.
Hard as it is to comprehend sometimes, college football is about more than the BCS conferences and their bowls and huge TV contracts. Non-elite programs and lesser bowls also enhance the sport’s appeal.
Supporters of the four-major-conference cartel point out that the new alignment will maximize revenue while creating a playoff system with built-in quarterfinal, semifinal and final football games.
A playoff? That’s catnip to the fans. Who can argue against any arrangement that leads to playoffs?
The non-elites – on the outside looking in – can. Fans of the greater health of the sport should.
Contrary to the propaganda, the superleagues will not create an environment that works for nearly everyone.
It will work for about 64 teams. And what about the rest of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the schools that don’t get an opportunity to play for the national
title no matter how good they might be? What will it do for them?
For the fat cats, one of the benefits of six BCS conferences cannibalizing one another to produce four superconferences is that it will help rid them of nuisance programs like Boise State, TCU and BYU trying to dip their whiskers into the rich cream they want all for themselves.
It doesn’t need to be said that this is all about money. Or that the superconferences will shove the non-elites even deeper into the recesses of irrelevance.
Does that sound like a healthy environment? Really?
The idea for conference realignment was spawned by fear. It’s all about BCS conferences such as the ACC, Big East and Big 12 trying to keep pace
economically with the SEC and eager-to-expand Big Ten.
A recent New York Times story even suggests that, over time, the four superconferences would leave the NCAA sandbox for an association of their own.
One that, some day, would create a basketball tournament to compete against the NCAA’s.
So what do you think of the fat cats’ plan now?
In addition to the elitism at the root of realignment, there is something else to consider. Nobody can convince me that the creation of superconferences won’t play to the schools’ worst instincts. And that this can’t help but lead to universities lowering, in some cases, already laughable standards, and making an even bigger mockery of the concept of the student-athlete.
Given the cynicism inherent in today’s emphasis on winning, maybe this isn’t possible. Maybe football programs have gone as low as they can go. I don’t
know.
But if not, the creation of four superconferences will only deepen and widen the cesspool.
Haven’t we learned – hasn’t our financial crisis taught us – that bigger isn’t always better?
For college football, now and in the future, bigger is only bigger.”

Frank Deford of SI.com expressed his view an athlete’s role in society. AND he’s pretty much on the mark.

“At a certain point, don’t you just stop caring whether our athletes — who, for some reason or other are always called “role models” — behave? Don’t you just want to say: Let the thugs play. OK, if they violate the statute law, fine. Put them in the hoosegow. But really, otherwise, why are we expending so much angst worrying about the character of our well-muscled celebrities?
I mean, it is hopelessly apparent that Ben Roethlisberger is a perfectly dreadful person, prone to reprehensible behavior whenever he is let loose from the sanctioned violence of the gridiron. As Knute Rockne said many years ago: “The only qualifications for a lineman are to be big and dumb. To be a back, you only have to be dumb.”
What earthly benefit is it to suspend Roethlisberger? Does it teach little, impressionable children a lesson? Is it going to make other football players pause late at night and think about being a role model when they are on the cusp of committing mayhem? I mean, let’s give Roethlisberger credit. At least he wasn’t packing a firearm like so many of his athletic brethren do when they are out taking the evening air.
No doubt his enforced vacation will hurt the Pittsburgh Steelers, but then, somebody has to lose, so it will help some other team. However, the National
Football League itself is not affected a whit, except in the sanctimonious sense that it can pat itself on the back for standing foursquare in support of goodness.
What always confounds me is the premise that Commissioner Roger Goodell cited — as do the other so-called czars of sport — that their players “have to be held to a higher standard.” But why? Why, of all people, are athletes, pretty much alone in our society, expected to be sweeter than the average angel? It is politicians and clergy and those maestros of finance on Wall Street who should be held to a higher standard. Why aren’t they ever called “role models?” Why can’t some tearful little impressionable tyke sob, “Say it ain’t so, Goldman Sachs, say it ain’t so,” and thus change the pecking order in our cultural mythology?
And speaking of role models, it’s nice to know that Tiger Woods has issued another sincere apology for all the little nasties he’d assured us he was going to take care of in prior sincere apologies. Perhaps Roethlisberger can join Tiger in his mystery rehabilitation.
So let me close this jeremiad by telling how we can get around this emotional dilemma: we simply acknowledge that not all role models have to be positive.
After all, by definition, the term just means modeling a role, exemplifying a position. Attila the Hun, for example — was there ever a better role model for
pillage and raping? No. So, once we understand that and accept it, we can stop fretting and get back to the games.”

 
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