One never knows how the decisions one makes early in life will turn out. What seems to be important as a youth may eventually dissolve into petty crap, while things not taken seriously when we are still squeezing zits may some day become really big deals. For instance, when I first went away to Punditry School, I assumed that it would be years and years before anybody actually would be interested in my opinions to the point of actually asking me to explain what they were. Now, decades and decades have gone by, and I regularly receive what Howard Cosell would have called a veritable plethora of electronic mail begging for my wisdom. Of course, I can’t answer them all because that would be more like an actual job, but I will share some of the more numerous questions and answers for the benefit of you boneheads out there.
Here is one from Justin Thyme in Middletown, Connecticut: I watch a lot of baseball on TV. Between and during innings I see a bunch of ads referring to 5G. I don’t know what that means, but I’m afraid to let anyone know that. Can you help?
Sure, Justin, no problem as we say in the biz. That’s one dollar more than 4,999.
Question number two comes from Greta Ryan in Bethesda, Maryland: There were certainly a large number of trades at this year’s deadline. Do you think some teams have helped themselves enough to make a difference? Greta,this most recent orgy of contract swapping creates a lot of hype and talk but leaves me uneasy. I think it most represents the kind of short sighted business thinking attributable to modern capitalism rather than baseball savvy, like advertising on umpires’ uniforms, abandoning the minor leagues, naming ball yards after fly by night corporations, and all sorts of other avaricious tactics. The idea was that, before the season begins, each team does its best to create rosters that can compete for championships, or at least be entertaining for it fans.
Stop snickering, you Baltimore people. Even then, the media folks begin speculating about what players with big contracts might “be moved” if their teams are “struggling” by mid season. Moved. of course, to a team that “has a shot at the post season”. Whereas, when I was a lad and people still read newspapers and listened to the radio, the Yankees were the only team that bought players during the season and the A’s were the usual sellers, every team potentially gets involved now. Not “getting help” is an indication that management has “given up” or “doesn’t care” and players on those teams are apt to get butt hurt. On the other hand, satisfying a need (to get a little sexy here) shows fans and players that you “are going for it now” and is often stimulating, at least for a while. It’s always a gamble, of course, but gambling is all very much okay in professional sports today, ain’t it? Not much thought is given to what the actual people who get traded feel about any of this. So, yes, Greta, look what happened! The Yankees did their thing, and it may have worked. Joey Gallo! Anthony Rizzo! Maybe Andrew Heany can pitch a few innings. Max Scherzer going to the Dodgers will certainly put them over the top, right? Daniel Hudson and Jake Marisnick to the Padres will not be making a big difference but the GM can say he tried. What the Chicago Cubs did, however, was downright cruel. Remember 2016? Screw it, man, this is now! Javier Baez, bye bye baby! Anthony Rizzo, take that leadership ability and shrinking batting average to the P.O.N.Y. League park where it can do some good. Kris Bryant, take your all around skills and versatility out of here! Bryant, at least, seemed to like the idea. Cubs owners, whoever they have been, have long known that they are going to get good crowds no matter how bad they are so let’s have a 13 game losing streak and save some dough. Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox. A pox on ’em. So it all leaves a sour taste but I’m happy for whoever is truly made happier
Christopher Gray of Ferndale, California has our third question: Don’t get me wrong. I make a good living as a UPS driver and I know that major league ballplayers are entitled to whatever salary they can attain, but isn’t it a bit “in your face” to see these guys with their gold chains dangling while they are playing what used to be a working person’s game?
Yes. Javier Baez lost an ear ring during a celebration the other day and it was a bit embarrassing to watch everybody look for it in vain. It is understandable that, for instance, a young person for the Dominican Republic might be a bit proud to suddenly have a lot of money to spend. If I was the manager, as likely a happening as Elon Musk buying us all season tickets, I would ban jewelry on the playing field. It’s unattractive except to thieves.
Our final question of the day comes from Tara Weathers in Donora, Pennsylvania: You really were ragging on the Oakland Athletics a couple of pieces ago. They are always good so what’s your problem?
Tara, my problems are many. In the case of the A’s, as usual it is ownership. Oakland California is one of the great cities of the United States. It is the birthplace or home of some of the greatest athletes in history. Consequently, Oakland has a sports fan base of some of the most faithful and knowledgeable people in the world. So, of course, those people get royally screwed regularly. Al Davis moved the Raiders to L.A., came back to Oakland long enough to get the Coliseum ruined for baseball, and now his son has pimped that team to Vegas. The NBA Warriors left San Francisco for Oakland and entertained a very solid group of fans for years and won some titles and then went back to San Francisco. Not Vegas, but still…The current owner of the baseball team wants a new stadium. They could have demolished the one Davis ruined and built a better one in the same spot but that idea appears to be dead in the water. He wants the city of Oakland and Alameda County to basically front the money for a huge building program not just for a ball yard but also a shopping and hotel complex that will make him money forever. If they don’t, he is threatening to also go to Vegas, which would be as close to Hell as baseball could get. The A’s should be in Oakland and, in this time of pandemic and almost certain economic trouble, he should build his own store.
So, folks, as you can see, this punditry business is hardscrabble and bitter. He never took my advice about how to speak coherent sentences, but Joe Buck still should have paid me. That’s how it goes.