So, there has been a pretty big tussle in recent days regarding 9/11. The New York Mets’ wanted to wear NYPD and FDNY hats in honor of the first responders who lost their lives on 9/11. That desire was subsequently rebutted by Major League Baseball who issued statements about adhering to league-wide policy requiring uniformity so that each team could honor 9/11 in unison. Then, Joe Torre who, lest we forget, is a New Yorker but now works for MLB’s front office was then trotted out to lay down the law.
All things considered, baseball (not just at the Major Leagues) has always been a bit… funny… about what is appropriate on a baseball field. Let’s take mascots for example. Every parent knows that mascots are in part, there, to appeal to younger children who might otherwise not be paying attention to the game. Yet sometimes, there are things I wouldn’t want my daughter to watch…
Of course, it’s not like mascots are meant to be role models of good behavior…
But then again, the idea that baseball players themselves make good role models can also be a bit overrated…
Yet I digress. Baseball may have once been America’s past time, but it’s little reason to take it oh so seriously. We are supposed to be fascinated, not so much by the activities on the field but the “experience” of attending a ball game. Baseball’s new mission is to be “Always Epic”, a slogan new to 2011 designed to appeal to that coveted 18 to 34 age demographic. Instead of focusing on on-field accomplishments, we should instead dream about what’s in Brian Wilson’s beard.)
Not that I can blame baseball too much, really since they’ve had their share of bad luck in advertising. The last time they focused on performance on the field and how much players wanted to improve themselves, not too many fans dug the aftermath.
I could insert a cheap Rafael Palmeiro Viagra clip here… but it’s too hard to pick just one. In the 90s we were sold on the idea that performance (and enhancing that performance) mattered. It didn’t start there, though. You didn’t need to read Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” to hear that greenies were good for baseball…
Yeah, focusing on performance and what a player (or a younger player) can do to enhance it probably isn’t in baseball’s best interests at present.
Perhaps I overdramatize a bit, and yes, it’s not fair to blame Major League Baseball for the way other companies have used the game of baseball to push their products.
Yet Major League Baseball is a business built on its tradition. It would be naive to think that MLB didn’t have some say in how the game of baseball is marketed. From Little League to the Major Leagues, you gotta sing the Star Spangled Banner (old tradition) and God Bless America (new tradition) like every good American ideally should (sorry, Carlos Delgado) Just remember, a good American shouldn’t grab your crotch or spit on the field until the anthem is over. I’m sure I read that in the unwritten book of baseball rules somewhere between the part where scuffing baseballs was ok and using “banned” drugs are not ok.
But usually, following the unwritten rules i.e. “the tradition of baseball”, whether it’s public indecency or punching a guy in a beanbrawl, usually doesn’t draw more than a fine and some R&R. Just wear your standard uniform (with a token ribbon or color change or patch added here and there for special, sentimental occasions and on sale in the team stores) and honor the game uniformly. Sure, a billboard creeps into the field of vision behind home plate or a beer ad on the billboard reminds you to drink responsibily, but it’s all to give MLB just a little more revenue so that we can better enjoy “the experience”. MLB, after all, has our best interests in mind and wouldn’t (usually) tarnish the game for a cheap buck.
(But, in case you really want to honor 9/11, Major League Baseball is selling 9/11 commerative caps (available in a variety of teams and different color schemes) for just $39.95 with just a portion of the proceeds going to charity.
A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
Don’t go through rehab if you can’t follow through.
All the dollars, taking dollars, into my own hands.
Soon I’ll control my curveball.
My contract’s your demand.
Stand back basebal fans, nothing here to see!
There was fadin’ attendance but now in the middle of it, me!
Yes Stephen Strasburg’s here, hair blowin’ in the breeze.
Baseball needs my pitchin’ expertise!
A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
It seems MLB begins with me attractin’ you.
The only doom that’s looming is the pitch count over my head.
So I’ll give you a sec to catch your breath.
Thank you Strasburg, man. I don’t think I can explain how important it was that you joined the Nats. They would be contracted. MLB would be decreased. Thank you sir for never usin’ PEDs!
Strasburg: Don’t worry about it – A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
Selig: You came from California.
Zimmerman: Are you kidding?
Strasburg: It seems MLB begins with me attractin’ you.
Selig: I wonder what awards you’ll win.
Strasburg: Which amateur draft were you watching?
Strasburg: When you’re the ace, you can’t be paced. What’s the use?
Selig: Our TV ratings are growing by a ton!
Zimmerman: Did you notice that he looks like Mark Prior?
Strasburg: The only doom that’s looming is your fans loving me to death.
Selig: Assuming I’m not loving you to death.
Strasburg: So please give me a sec to catch my breath.
Selig: Please give me a sec to catch my breath.
Zimmerman: Tommy John!
Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the star in your first half hour on the field, then you are the star. Griffey would tell ya, If you play for a living, it’s like any other job. You don’t gamble, you grind it out. Your goal is to win one award a career. That’s it. Get your reputation in when you have the best of it, protect it from the media when you don’t then live out your life as a coach. Don’t give anything away. That’s how I got my way through the Seattle Mariners, a true grinder. See, I learned how to win an award or two a time. But finally I’ve learned this, if you’re too careful, your whole life can become a grind.
This is Buddy MLB’s place. You won’t find it in the yellow pages.
“Another All-Star, Alex?”
“Nope, Buddy not tonight. Give me a triple crown.”
“Three stakes of high society. Count it… So you’re upsetting the Big Apple? Good. Want a Cracker Jack box?”
He doesn’t look like much, but Buddy MLB is connected all the way to the top of baseball. He’s the one guy in the game you don’t want to mess with. But if you’re looking to be a star, this is the only place in town. They all know me as a small market player, but that’s about to change.
Jose Canseco is a baseball legend. He’s been in the record books, earning his living off that reputation since he was 18 years old.
“What are you, holding that reputation for somebody?”
“Yeah, Jose, I’m holding it for you.”
“You should be, because I hope you’re not thinking about putting all that glimmer in play.” He’s as close to a friend as there is in this place. But tonight, I don’t want to see him.
“Come here. You don’t want to butt sound-bytes with these guys. Coz they’ll chew you up and blackball you.”
“So you say, Jose.”
“There’s plenty of easy ways, Alex. We get outta here, get some All-Stars, run over to Costas on NBC.”
“I know what I’m doing.”
“You’re making a run at it aren’t you? Rolling up the stakes and going to the record books. Am I right, Alex? Right?”
“I can beat the game.”
“Maybe, maybe this is a game that can be beat, but you know you can put in your ten at Yankee Stadium and let Jeter win the World Series MVP in the House that Ruth Built…Ok, I understand. I understand. Back to battle.”
The game in question is No-Limit Cooperstown Hold’em. minimum buy-in five year career. A game like this doesn’t come together often on the West Coast. The stakes attract free agents, and they in turn attract the media.
No limit Cooperstown Hold’em is the Vin Scully of baseball. Each player is dealt two cards of retired baseball numbers face down. Five cards are then dealt face up across the middle. These are community cards everyone can use to make their best five card hand for the media. The key to the game is looking like a star, not the cards.
There’s no other game in which reputations can change so much from hand to hand. A brilliant player can get a strong image cracked from a sound byte, get an asterisk on their numbers and lose their voters along with every single shred of rep in front of him. This is why voting for the Hall of Fame is determined by the media. Some players, pros even, won’t play for Cooperstown. they can’t handle the swings. But there are others, like Willie Mays, who consider Cooperstown the only pure award left.
Like Papa used to say, life is on the wire, the rest is just waiting for the cards to be dealt.
“I’m going to raise, I’ll bet an MVP.”
“It’s a position raise, I call it.”
The flop comes Reggie Jackson (44) and Joe DiMaggio (5) of Yankees, Bill Terry (3) of Giants.
Here’s the beauty of this game, I just got two pair with McCovey (44) and Brett (5), forty-fours and fives on the flop and I want to keep him in the hand.
“Go Ah-Rod”, Buddy belches out.
Against your average guy, I’d set a bunt trap, hardly bet my rep at all, but Buddy MLB is too smart for that. So what I’ve got to do is Zimmer the pot, rush it and look like I’m trying to buy it. Then he plays back at me and I get paid off.
“I bet 700 home runs.”
Buddy brings a cracker jack to his ear, listening to it. Then, he drops it on his tongue and slurps it into his mouth. Crunch. “Call.”
My guess is Buddy’s on a Yankee draw.
“Burn and turn,” Buddy orders.
There’s my money card, Carl Berger (5) of Marlins. I got a full house.
Buddy says, “Checking the better.”
“Check’s good,” Now i hope a Yankee falls and Buddy flushes his Yankees, then he’ll bet strong and I’ll beat him with my forty-fours full of fives.
The river comes, Billy Martin (1) of Yankees.
Bud leans forward, “I bet. Your $252 million contract didn’t change a last place team.”
“Time.” I want him to think I’m pondering a call, but all I’m thinking of is Cooperstown and renaming the Hall of Fame to A Rodriguez World.
“Alright Buddy, I see your $252 mil but I’ll be a team player by moving to third base. Um. Yeah I’m going to go all-in because I don’t think you need the Yankees.”
“You’re right, I don’t need the Yankees.”
I know before the cards are even turned over…
Buddy flips up Aaron (44) of Braves, Aaron (44) of Brewers for a better full house.
“Aaron’s clean, Alex.”
“I’m down to the tabloids, Jose. I lost my rep. I lost my fans…”
“Happens to everyone Alex, from time to time, everyone goes bust. You’ll be back on 60 Minutes and writing a book about it before you know it.”
“Nah I’m done.”
“Here, let me stake you. 50% of a pay-per-view boxing match. You lose more rep, blame me.”
“I’d just throw those fans away, Jose. You still got the number for Peter Gammons?”