Posts Tagged baseball
(Last fall, the editorial staff at Tyranny of Tradition received a $100,000 grant from the Arthur Schlichter Foundation For Integrity in Sports in order to cover sports with the passion and zeal with which we cover heavy metal. The grant was meant to last us 10 years, but the editorial staff had a really strong feeling about Valparaiso covering the spread on the road against Cleveland State in a college basketball game a few weeks back. Needless to say, our grant has dwindled down to about $317. Certainly not enough to start a whole sports department, but enough to send Tyranny’s baseball reporter Dirty Dave on The FM on a Greyhound Bus from Patchogue, Long Island to Port Saint Lucie to cover Spring Training for a day or two)
(We could not afford to put Dirty Dave up in a hotel, so he patiently slept outside of the Mets spring training complex until he was arrested at 4 AM for vagrancy and forced to spend the rest of his time “covering” baseball in a Florida jail cell. In spite of this, he was able to put together some of the finest, most in depth coverage of the changes that will be coming for the 2015 MLB season)
(He’s a good reporter and I think you’ll like the article. Plus, he’s taller than Tim Kurkjian. Then again, most adults are. Even some 2nd graders)
As winter begins to wind down and the annual Major League Baseball spring training season gets under way, baseball fans are looking ahead, but not necessarily forward, to a 2015 season shaping up to be unlike any other in the sport’s long history. When Allan H. (Bud) Selig retired from his post as Major League Baseball Commissioner on January 14, he was widely expected to order a series of eleventh-hour rule and policy changes reminiscent of the flurry of last-minute political pardons that accompanies the exit of U.S. presidents from office. The changes, which have now been independently confirmed by high-ranking staff members in the Commissioner’s Office, will usher the national pastime into a new era of innovations that many baseball historians are describing as more radical than any others implemented during the game’s modern age.
Selig, who was named Commissioner of Baseball in 1992, has been the target of controversy before. Widely recognized as one of the most progressive leaders in the history of the game, Selig is known for dictating a number of departures from baseball tradition, including interleague play, the addition of two, and later four, wildcard teams to the postseason, and instant replay.
According to sources, several of the changes for 2015 will fundamentally alter play itself. Starting on Opening Day, hitters will be required to bat with their eyes closed, pitchers must throw standing on only one leg, and fielders will use their hats in lieu of gloves. Additionally, teams will universally bypass the fourth inning and play a tenth inning instead. In the event of extra innings, the thirteenth inning will likewise be bypassed in consideration of any triskaidekaphobes who may be in attendance.
Other changes will have less effect on the game and more impact on the fan experience. To capitalize on the popularity of recently-introduced ballpark amenities like full-service restaurants, swimming pools, and night clubs, several sources are reporting that Selig has directed teams to offer additional extraneous activities at the ballpark, including water polo matches in the infield, fox hunts in the outfield, and recreational scoreboard climbing. Ballpark fare will be changing, too. Snacks that are virtually synonymous with baseball such as peanuts and Cracker Jack will be removed from inventories and substituted with walnuts and Triscuit. And several sources have confirmed that hot dogs will start being produced using actual dogs.
An anonymous source close to the former commissioner, who would identify himself only as Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre, explained that as his retirement approached, Selig became concerned that he hadn’t done enough to secure baseball’s future. “Since his first day on the job, Bud’s number one goal has been to bring baseball into the twenty-first century as a viable, competitive sports product,” said the source. “With so many other entertainment options vying for the attention of today’s consumer, Bud has worked tirelessly to keep baseball at the forefront. These final reforms will ensure that baseball will remain our national pastime for decades to come.”
Among the many anticipated changes, the following are expected to draw the most ire from baseball purists:
- Selig will move the Milwaukee Brewers, the franchise he originally owned, back to Seattle where they will re-adopt their given name, the Pilots, and the Seattle Mariners will be sold to a Turkish investment group and moved to Istanbul
- To help limit the number of concussions and other serious baseball injuries, all players will be required to wear full Kevlar-reinforced body armor uniforms, baseballs will be replaced with Wiffle balls, and when approaching the plate runners will be required to come to a full stop and politely ask catchers for permission to slide
- To discourage any further commercialization of baseball, teams will be prohibited from selling the naming rights of their stadiums to corporations and all such stadiums will be renamed after obscure 19th century U.S. presidents; several new names have already been announced: Citi Field in New York will be renamed Rutherford B. Hayes Park, AT&T Park in San Francisco will be called Franklin Pierce Field, and Petco Park in San Diego will be renamed William Henry Harrison Stadium and then rechristened 30 days later as the John Tyler Coliseum.
- To broaden baseball’s global appeal, several new expansion teams will begin play in 2015, including the Somalia Pirates, the Moscow Reds, and the Mumbai Indians; to avoid confusion, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be renamed the Pittsburgh Old Fashioned Cartoony-Type Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds will be renamed the Cincinnati Slightly Lighter Shade of Reds, and the Cleveland Indians will be given the generic and non-offensive moniker the Cleveland Original Inhabitants of America.
- Derek Jeter will embark on a never-ending farewell tour, travelling from stadium to stadium in an endless cycle to receive a ceaseless quantity of free gifts
- Popcorn will be banned at ballparks, because where do you think you are? The movies?
- To further distinguish the geographical specificity of the team for its fan base, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will be renamed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim That Play Their Home Games In Orange County Off The I-5 Which Is Pretty Far Away From Dodger Stadium But Still In the Same Metro Area
- To help reverse the trend of increasing game times, all contests that proceed beyond the 15th inning will be decided by a sudden death “Punkin Chunkin” competition
- The Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners will replace their designated smoking sections with designated toking sections
- In tribute to former players Al Oliver, Oddibe McDowell, and Oscar Gamble, the number 0 will be universally retired by all teams
- In addition to the substances currently banned by Major League Baseball’s drug policy, players will be prohibited from using or possessing eggplants
- The National League will officially merge with the American League, the combined entity will then merge with the Canadian Football League, and the resulting organization will merge with Golden Corral
- More beards
- Any fan not removing their cap during the National Anthem will be waterboarded while forced to listen to a 24-hour repeating loop of Joe Buck broadcasts
The Major League Baseball Players Association could not be reached for comment.
Ending The Suffering In Style: Mets Promotions That Might Actually Get People To Citi Field in September
Sandy Alderson and I have been in a regular Friday night card game for the past three years. It’s a pretty low stakes game, but things got a bit out of hand last week. Sandy, or Santino as he likes to be called, went all in on a straight flush that never materialized. Long story short, Santino owes me 20 large. I know for a fact that he owes some very dangerous guys some serious coin, including an ungodly amount to a guy out in Staten Island that they call Joey The Lamppost. Anyway, I told Santino that if he lets me run the promotion side for the Mets for the last 6 games of the year, a god awfully unbearable home stand against two deeply disinterested teams, that I’d forgive what he owes me and talk to a few friends about allowing him to arrange a payment schedule that doesn’t involve forfeiting his kidneys. Basically, I get to create whatever promotions I want. I personally think this will be a good thing, because only a diehard baseball fans and flashers will be out for most of the games. These promotions might just get a few folks out to say farewell to another season of mind-numbingly awful baseball.
Friday Night vs. The Phillies
(Night of The Old Timers)
Most baseball teams have an old timers day, so this is not a new idea. However, few teams have actually ever had their old timers team play the actual game. The Phillies will have already clinched the division and will be resting everyone who is even marginally relevant to the team’s success. Why not have some fun? What could be more enjoyable than watching 66-year-old Eddie Kranepool trying to leg out an infield grounder or 67-year-old Ron Swoboda trying to hit a Brad Lidge slider? Imagine Cleon Jones trying to make a sliding catch and having to be revived by paramedics. Could 74 year old Choo-Choo Coleman throw out fleet-footed Catcher Brian Schneider as he was stealing 3rd base? Who knows? Who cares? They are 26 games out of first place for God sakes.
Saturday Afternoon vs. The Phillies
(Come, Come To The Sabbath Saturday)
Anyone who has spent more than 5 seconds on this site has to have figured out that I am completely obsessed with metal artist King Diamond. Imagine all the players dressed in King Diamond face paint reflecting the many eras of the King’s career. David Wright wearing the King’s Conspiracy look. Jose Reyes rocking The Puppet Master era top hat and backwards cross paint. Free orange sherbet to the first 500 fans (so, basically everybody who will be there). About two thirds of you just collectively said, “What on earth is this fool talking about?” They will probably stop reading at this point, thus depriving themselves of a golden opportunity to hear about Ruben Tejada fighting a bear.
Sunday Afternoon vs. The Phillies
(Ruben Tejada Fights A Bear Day)
I have yet to find a use for Ruben Tejada. People often tell me that he has a great deal of potential. He looks to me like a back-up middle infielder who, if everything goes perfectly and he manages to join a Santeria sect capable of utilizing functional spells, could one day hit .290. Why not have him fight a bear? Who wouldn’t love to watch little Ruben battle one of nature’s most terrifying beasts? Have the fight in the 5th inning and whoever wins gets to play second for the rest of the game. Imagine watching a bear, barely finished digesting Ruben Tejada trying to turn a double play. Some groups would call this cruelty to animals, but truthfully, unless there is a group that tries to prevent cruelty to moderately talented, light hitting second basemen, no one will complain too loudly.
Monday Night vs. The Reds
(Franz Kafka Night)
Imagine it…an entire baseball game dedicated to the demented mind of Franz Kafka. The game starts in the 4th inning. In the first inning, which follows the 8th, second base is removed mid-inning leaving the players to contemplate how to get to third. Pitchers refuse to pitch for hours cynically watching the batters prepare for a pitch that may never come. On a 3-2 fastball down the middle, the umpire randomly yells out “SQUID!” No one knows how to proceed. Jason Bay randomly turns into a giant turtle while running to first base after hitting a single. The game ends with both teams being swallowed by a choking fog that descends onto the field and the players disappearing into a vast and cruel nothingness.
Tuesday Night vs. The Reds
(Retiring Juan Samuel’s Jersey)
Do you remember the year that Juan Samuel led the Mets to the playoffs by hitting .400 down the stretch including a game winning homerun against the Cardinals to clinch the division? Or the time he picked up his third consecutive MVP award and led the Mets to back-to-back World Series victories? Of course you don’t. The Juan Samuel trade was a Hindenburg like catastrophe that managed to rip the heart and soul out of a once great team and all but ruin my childhood. Most teams retire player’s jersey because he performs at a high level. Listen, we are Mets fans. If there’s anything that epitomizes the franchise it is devastating trades that hamstring the organization for decades. Why not celebrate what we do best?!?!
I have no idea what his jersey number was. I don’t even think he remembers. We certainly could retire his batting average with the Mets in 1989. From this day forward, no one will be allowed to hit .228 again!
Wednesday Night vs. The Reds
(The Stoning of Mr. Met Night)
You know that Pepsi commercial they have now where all the great baseball players from different eras in a Field of Dreams type set up? While most clubs are represented by some great player like Randy Johnson or Dennis Eckersley, the Mets are represented by a dude with a baseball on his head. As if to say, the best thing that your storied franchise can produce is a silly mascot. Personally, I find the whole bit insulting. I have a deep hatred for mascots in general, but Mr. Met causes my heart to pump pure bile. The only way to truly end this fiasco of a season properly is by having Mr. Met pelted to death with stones. Thousands of them! It’s the only rational solution.
Wound him to the point that no thinking person will ever put a giant baseball on his head in the Tri-State area again. Make an example out of him! Send a message to baseball that goofy mascots will not be tolerated. Let’s remind America that we can again become the unruly demented mob that trashed Shea Stadium after clinching the division in 1986. Turn Mr. Met into a human piñata, then we’ll start winning some championships.
Some people dream of having their own twenty-room mansion, some fantasize about owning a yacht, others imagine purchasing their own tropical island. If money was no object and I could buy anything I wanted I’d immediately purchase the Colorado Rockies. Here’s the thing, I’m not even a Rockies fan and I’ve never been within 300 miles of Colorado. So, why would some multi-billionaire Mets fan want to purchase the Rockies? Because it would allow me to put into play a baseball system that would forever revolutionize how the game is played. I like to call the system Moronball and it could be the greatest innovation in how the game is played since the creation of the curveball.
Moronball is a system that utilizes several idiosyncrasies within the game to the greatest possible advantage. It is similar to the Oakland A’s Moneyball system in the fact that it tries to achieve success without spending a large amount of money. The difference is that instead of creating a team built around a boring, clichéd goal like winning; Moronball is built around creating the most bizarre and entertaining possible experience imaginable.
The first and most obvious question is, ‘Why Colorado’? The homerun is the most critical offensive component in Moronball. Therefore, we will try to create a team that will hit the most possible homeruns and in the process sacrifice nearly every other important offensive category. The thin air of Colorado can offer a possibility of a nearly endless stream of homeruns if the fences are moved in a bit. Right now, you need to hit the ball 415 feet to get a homerun in straight away center. That’s ridiculous! Nobody wants to go to a game to watch long outs. We will move that that to about 350 and put a 275 foot short porch out in right and left field. As Founding Father and diehard baseball fan James Madison once said, “Chicks dig the longball.”
The next step is finding players that fit the system. Homerun hitters tend to be a bit overpaid unless they lack speed, the ability to hit for average and anything approaching average defensive ability. The Moronball Rockies are going to resemble a 35 and up beer league softball team. My outfield will feature athletes like Wily Mo Pena (5 HRs in 46 AB this year), Andruw Jones (14th on the active list of homeruns per at bat with 1 per every 17), and Matt Stairs (25th on the same list 1 HR per 19 ABs). I’d even talk to Barry Bonds about coming out of retirement to roam the outfield. Granted, what I have just outlined is the worst defensive outfield in the 150-year history of baseball, but the point is to win games 22 to 17, not 3 to 1.
At third base would be Russell Branyan (7th on the active AB/HR list with 1 per every 15 ABs) and our first baseman will be Cubs power hitter Carlos Pena (anyone who can hit 26 homeruns with a sub .200 batting average like Pena did last year belongs with us). Pena would cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million per season, but, honestly, we’re not really paying anyone else all that much so why not shell a little money out for a guy who could potentially hit 75 homeruns in our ballpark. Many, many records would fall in Colorado.
It gets a bit tricky when you get to shortstop and second base, because the bloated power hitters are either making too much money for us or have been moved to the outfield. However, keep in mind that we are not committed in anyway whatsoever to playing anything that would even remind a baseball fan of defense. Therefore, I would use Spring Training to convert some Triple A power hitting phenoms who can’t make the show into middle infielders. Mike Hessman, who is currently playing in Japan, is the active minor league homerun leader. I bet that he’d be willing to play second base if I promised him an everyday gig. Shortstop would be manned by power hitting journeyman Bill Hall who is, ironically enough, actually a shortstop. Our catcher would be slugger Miguel Olivo who does almost nothing but hit the ball out the park.
Our starting pitching staff will be another unique facet of Moronball. 3 knuckleballers. That’s it! Tim Wakefield, R.A. Dickey and Charlie Haeger. Jim Bouton once said that knuckleballers pitch better when they are tired. These starters are going to be looking at logging something in the neighborhood of 40 starts so they will be completely exhausted. One of the most entertaining things to watch are knuckleballers, so I say, give the people what they want to see! We’d then carry 9 relief pitchers who could come in and throw hard in order to capitalize on the fact that seeing knuckleballers all day long will cause the opposition’s timing to be a bit off. They can all be flame-throwing journeymen; I really don’t care. We could even have a contest and put a fan on the roster as a middle reliever for the entire season. As long as our team ERA is somewhere below 15.00 we are going to be competitive or, at the very least, fun to watch.
The Rockies have a great amount of talent. I’m sure I could get the players I’ve mentioned because I strongly doubt teams like the Red Sox are going to turn down an offer like Troy Tulowitzki for 44 year-old Tim Wakefield. With the players I’ve mentioned and a few bench players, I think I can keep the payroll somewhere around 35 million per year. I will invest an additional 5 million in order to find the best steroid doctors in the world. If it means forcing our players to inject substances that would have made Mr. Ed win the Kentucky Derby, we will do it.
Baseball purists will hate our team. The commissioner will threaten to close us down. Announcers will lambaste us every time they watch us play, but a Colorado Rockies game will be the most exciting 6 hours the fans have ever seen. We will put hills in the middle of the outfield, place a giant sinkhole between first and second base and even mine the infield grass, whatever we need to do to make Rockies baseball the greatest show on earth.
Last night was a historic night at Turner Field as Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was scratched from the lineup with his 3,000th oblique injury. While taking batting practice, Chipper felt a familiar tug in between his stomach and his ribcage and knew that he had done something special. He informed the trainer and Manager Fredi Gonzalez about the accomplishment immediately and his name was removed from the lineup card. The capacity crowd of 35,000 people leaped to their feet when the lineup change was announced and Chipper was given a five-minute curtain call during which he pulled a hamstring muscle. After the game, Chipper’s entire oblique muscle was removed and sent to Cooperstown. “There are many moments that live forever in the minds of baseball fans, Hank Aaron’s 755 homerun, Pete Rose’s 4192 hit, Oliver Perez’ 10,000th wild pitch and now this moment,” said commissioner Bud Selig in a ceremony held in the Emergency Room at Atlanta’s Grady Hospital, “There is a new strained oblique muscle champion and his name is Chipper Jones!”
In other injury news, the Mets placed Jason Bay on the 15,000 day disabled list retroactive to 2004. Bay was diagnosed with a broken leg, three sprained fingers, a ruptured spleen, toxic megacolon, chimpanzee acne, male pattern baldness, mumps, gastroenteritis, Bogart-Bacall Syndrome, an ulcer, type 4 feline diabetes, colic and schizophrenia. Bay sustained all of these injuries crashing into the wall at Dodgers Stadium in a game last July. The Mets Medical Staff has ordered Bay to fly back and forth from the West Coast four times a day for the next month in order to improve his condition. Former Mets General Manager Omar Minaya responded to this latest setback by offering Bay a 5 year 100 million dollar extension. The Mets, unclear as to why a person who is no longer GM is making offers to players, responded by offering Bay a 7 year 140 million dollar extension. Mets GM Sandy Alderson said in an afternoon press conference that “As a major market team, we simply cannot be outbid by former employees who no longer run baseball teams.”
Yesterday, Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane signed 12 year old Little League sensation Ryan Murphy. Murphy had a .560 OBP in 132 at-bats for his Pony League team, The Shoprite Superstars and had a 1.230 OPS in all summer wiffleball games played between 14th and 18th Street in Columbus, Ohio. Murphy, a 5 foot 2 and 345 pound shortstop, is thought the team’s leadoff hitter of the future.
Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa debuted his new “lefty-killer” defense designed to neutralize the power hitting left-handed bats on the Phillies in St. Louis last night. The defense featured 3 second baseman, 2 first baseman and 11 rightfielders. LaRussa, a manager known for employing creative lineups and defenses, made history last week by deciding to use a designated hitter in games against other National League teams and batting Albert Pujols 2nd, 4th, 7th and 11th in the lineup.
In the hopes of doing something original with the highly stale pre-season baseball prediction column, I have decided to pick all of the winning teams randomly. I took the names of the teams in each division and threw them into a hat. I picked the winners of each division out and will then threw the rest back in and picked the Wild Card. After that, I threw the winning names back in and picked the World Series Winner at random. The challenge is now for me to come up with reasons that the teams I picked might actually win. We are making history here folks. Hang on to your hats!
Whew! I got off easy on this one. Great pitching, a powerful lineup and a payroll that resembles the Gross Domestic Product of Angola, what is not to like? I think I’m pretty safe here.
The lineup isn’t totally horrendous. Jeff Francouer, the team’s right fielder, might well hit 30 homeruns this year (if he manages to get somewhere around 1300 at bats). First baseman Kila Ka’aihue has a shot to lead the league this season in Vowel To Consonant In Name Ratio (VCNR), an important predictor of player success. They feature Bruce Chen and Kyle Davies who both spent some of their careers with the Atlanta Braves. The Atlanta Braves system produced John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, two certain Hall of Famers.
An oft-overlooked statistic that bodes well for the Royals is team weight. The Royals position players outweigh the rest of the leagues position players by nearly 220 pounds and an average of 10.7 pounds per player. Starvation is a disease that afflicts many professional athletes and it is almost guaranteed that, if there is any sort of famine, the Royals will be able to outlast the rest of the Central.
The Mariners feature an exciting team that could easily make a run at their first division championship since the Ford Administration. They feature a budding star in first baseman The Dude Who Got Traded for Cliff Lee, and a dominant starting pitcher, The Heavy Set Young Guy Who Sportswriters Seem to Really Like. The Short Speedy Guy Who Used To Be Good is a sparkplug at the top of the lineup. The Guy With The Strange Looking Name is a top-flite closer who looks to rebound from a shaky 2010. Slightly Mentally Disturbed Former Power Hitter Who Has Been Kicked Off Of Nearly Every Team In Baseball showed signs of regaining his All-Star form late last season. They have a lot of other talented players who are capable of both hitting and even fielding, on occasion. New Manager, Guy With The Mustache Who Got Fired By Somebody a While Ago, brings a new enthusiasm and energy that should translate into more wins.
AL Wild Card-Tigers
The Tigers are one of the toughest teams in baseball. They have to be…they live in Detroit. Detroit, a city that is best known for devastating poverty and Robocop, has a proud tradition of excellence. No examples of this spring to mind immediately, but I’m sure there is some fellow in a Chet Lemon throwback jersey who can come up with a few. Detroit also features a baseball stadium that is untouched by the bloodshed and terror that take place outside of its gates. They will probably sellout most of their games this season as panicked citizens search for shelter, food and safety.
In spite of the fact that 2/3s of the team look like they have been waiting on line for 15 hours to get tickets to a Nickelback concert, they have a great deal of talent. The pitching is flat-out awesome. Lincecum and Cain are tremendous at the front end, but they also have the unfortunately named Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito, who’s contract conclusively proves he is one of the top pitchers in baseball. Expect great things out of enigmatic lefty Jonathon Sanchez, who should pitch well enough this season to allow another organization to set themselves back 10 years by giving him millions of dollars in the off-season (see Oliver Perez). The fact that they collectively will probably hit 12 homeruns shouldn’t bother you because good pitching always beats good hitting and clichés repeated ad nauseum by baseball announcers are always correct.
The Nats went out and spent some money in the off-season for the first time since Ronnie Belliard turned down a lucrative career in Real Estate Sales to join the club back in 2007. Their big splash was the signing of Jayson Werth, who should react favorably to a less hitter friendly park and limited protection in the lineup. They also signed Adam LaRoche, a player who has accumulated a great deal of experience playing in front of 300-1,000 fans, a major advantage for players first joining the club. They feature a bevy of young potential superstars including recent arm transplant recipient Jordan Zimmerman and David Clyde-esque flamethrower Stephen Strasburg. If minor league sensation Bryce Harper does not drown in eye black, he could join the club for a late season push.
Somebody has to win the Central….right????
NL Wild Card-Florida
Florida’s fan base has suffered through several subpar seasons due to the nearly constant fire sale that has taken place since the franchise last won the World Series in 2003. Those twelve people have suffered terribly and deserve a great season. This is their year!
World Series Winner Florida Marlins
A popular expression that tends to get used when people make asinine comments to a member of the media is “What were you thinking?” It is a common retort used to illustrate when someone has said something so utterly without merit that the reporter doesn’t feel the urge to mount a counter reply. Recently, Luke Scott, a muscle-headed, mouth-breathing Baltimore Oriole baseball player, who clearly cut many a history class in order to spend an additional hour in his school’s Chik Fil-A sponsored batting cage, made some monumentally dumb off the cuff remark about Barack Obama not being an American citizen. This sort of remark has faded a bit from its mid-2009 health care hysteria peak, but you still hear the occasional Manchurian candidate nonsense rearing its jingoistic head. I don’t expect Luke Scott to say anything worth listening to. What passes for discourse between athletes and reporters is the general ever flowing stream of “I’m going to go out there and do the best I can and, God willing, my teammates and I will get a win” type truisms that are taught to these folks in six hour cram session classes run by slime bucket agents who are looking to make their commodities more marketable to the slab of the American public that loves to hear the same thing over and over again.
I really could care less what Luke Scott has to say. What annoyed me was the glib, dismissive way that Yahoo writer Steve Henson rejected his remark in his recent free agency winners and losers column. Obviously Steve, we know what he was thinking. He was very clear about that in his statement. He was thinking that Obama was born in another country and, therefore, is an “illegitimate” President. The question seems to not be geared to mock what he was thinking, but his inability to know that when a reporter is around it is your job as an athlete to spout nothing but inoffensive, meaningless, Hallmark card style platitudes. Henson was really asking, “How could he not know that saying this would make him look ignorant? Doesn’t he know that it is his station in life to carry on this endless tradition of banal player interviews that we so love and revere? Why didn’t he just say something like “Obama will be fine if he gives this whole being born in the United States thing 110 percent”?
One of the unnamed right of passage exams that an athlete goes through on the way to householdnamedom is the “Can you say absolutely nothing of substance every time you are within 50 feet of a microphone” test. This is why listening to most athletes being interviewed is a highly painful endeavor. It’s as if the interviewer and the player a conspiring to cover up any human characteristics the athlete could possibly have. Occasionally, we are treated to colorful dimwits like Charles Barkley or Curt Schilling who say embarrassing “what the average guy is thinking” sorts of things, but mostly it’s just more of the “It was my childhood dream” sort of garbage. The Barkley/Schilling type stuff is awful for other reasons, but at least when I listen to it I know that their is a human being in there instead of a piece of equipment that runs a 4.3 40.
There is an upside to athletes feeling they have the ability to express themselves with some degree of freedom. For one, I now know that Luke Scott, once only known to me as the guy I might pick instead of Edwin Encarnacion in the 14th round of my AL keeper league draft, is a raving lunatic. Luke Scott has gone from 27 homeruns and 72 RBIs to a real human with definable features. I can like him or dislike him based on his ideas. Maybe there are a few Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Dock Ellis or Jim Bouton types who really have something unique to say. There is a real loss sports fans experience when athletes do not speak their minds. It is the loss of the chance to meet these players as human beings with real ideas and emotions. The ideas they have may be shameful, obnoxious, or ill informed but they remind us that we are living in a world of humans who feel, think and dream just like we do.