Todd Hartley: In baseball, every Rose has its Selig
October 25, 2002
So this is how baseball saves itself? It averts a strike at the 11th hour, loses its perennial favorites in the divisional playoffs and then pits two wild-card teams against one another in what is shaping up to be a humdinger of a World Series? Is it really that simple?
I could be wrong, having not lived in New York, Atlanta or Arizona for the last decade, but it seems like baseball is born anew after having rid itself of those cities’ teams early in the postseason. Instead of watching Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, yada, yada, yada, engaged in one tedious pitchers’ duel after another, this year we actually get to see two teams duke it out.
Perhaps that’s why it feels like the whole country, and surprisingly not just California, is paying attention to this year’s Fall Classic. It pits the Anaheim Angels, who’ve never been to a World Series, against the Giants, who haven’t been to one since 1989 and haven’t won one since before they moved to San Francisco. There’s something to be said for fresh blood.
The plot lines are certainly compelling enough. Nobody expected the Angels to do anything in the AL West, a division that also contains the mighty Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners, and America seems taken with Anaheim’s gritty style of play. The Giants, of course, were led into the postseason by Barry Bonds, who now has a chance to show on a national stage that he is, indeed, one of the greatest ballplayers of all time and not some playoff choker as he has been labeled.
That in itself could be the reason for a baseball resurgence, but I think it runs a little deeper than that. This rocking of baseball’s status quo has the feel of an outright baseball revolution, one that just might be able to topple the evil regime of Major League Baseball’s malicious little shrew of a commissioner, Bud Selig.
It began, fittingly, when the Minnesota Twins became the first team to clinch a division title, winning a woeful AL Central easily. Minnesota had been slated for contraction under Selig’s plan to decrease the size of the league and bail out his pal Carl Pohlad, the Twins’ owner, and thus they weren’t even supposed to have been in existence this year. The fact that they made the playoffs had to have been a thorn in Selig’s side, whether he chooses to admit it or not.
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But Minnesota wasn’t done. The Twins even went a step further by taking down Oakland and moving on to the American League Championship Series, and when Selig had the gall to show up for a game at the Metrodome the wonderful fans of the twin cities booed him soundly. If Governor Jesse Ventura had been there to body-slam Selig to the astroturf, things would have been perfect.
Then Bonds, who it seemed was either being walked intentionally or hitting a titanic home run with every at-bat, undeniably shut his critics up forever. Not only is Bonds not slumping in the playoffs, as many a sportswriter predicted and hoped he would, he’s excelling like nobody imagined he could. And those stodgy old scribes who resent Bonds’ talent and standoffish public demeanor and wish he wasn’t as good as he is are forced to eat their share of crow.
But the clincher, the final public revelation of chinks in Selig’s wizened armor, came in the moments before Game 4 of the World Series. After it was announced that the sixth most memorable moment in baseball history was Pete Rose breaking the all-time hit record, Charlie Hustle himself trotted out on to the field to a standing ovation. Selig, who has sworn that Rose will never enter the Hall of Fame during his tenure as commissioner, must have been cringing somewhere.
Baseball is big into curses. There’s the curse of the Bambino in Boston, and the curse of the Black Sox in Chicago. Well I, for one, believe that baseball brought a curse upon itself when it banned Pete Rose, and that curse is Bud Selig. But the winds of change are blowing. To wit: Selig, a loud and hearty boo. Rose, a standing ovation. See where I’m going with this?
So while the irony is hot I say we throw some support behind this revolution and storm into Milwaukee or New York, or wherever that evil little dictator, er, commissioner is hiding, and institute a little regime change, if you catch my drift. To hell with whether we have United Nations support or not.
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