Tuesday, June 27, 2006
By Tim Keown
Let's pretend for a moment that baseball resembles real life. It'll take a stretch, but maybe everyone can close their eyes and let their minds drift into the realm of the outlandish.
First, we have Ozzie Guillen and his now-epic and ever-childish back-and-forth with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti. Guillen called Mariotti a "bleeping fag" -- except he didn't say "bleeping." Guillen was ordered to take sensitivity training, a prospect he promptly mocked.
Imagine Ozzie as an employee in the real world. Forget his problems with Mariotti -- the tough-talking columnist who won't go to the locker room because he's afraid (of something or other) -- and look at Ozzie's behavior. In what profession would this fly? What organization allows one of its most high-profile employees to behave like this in public and doesn't respond with even a public censure? And no, GM Kenny Williams' surprisingly candid mention of "someday" facing the possibility of getting rid of Ozzie because of his mouth doesn't rise to the status of public censure.
And even though Ozzie has received a remarkable amount of attention lately, there's an even more egregious example of baseball's distance from reality. Phillies pitcher Brett Myers was arrested early Friday morning after allegedly assaulting his wife on a Boston sidewalk. There were witnesses and some pretty damning evidence that Myers took a break from chivalry for at least a few moments.
And what happened to Myers? He took to the mound, starting for his team the next calendar day. On Saturday in Fenway Park, he was pitching and hearing about it from the Red Sox fans. Isn't that amazing? Someone should write a story about Myers' courage and fortitude, his ability to blot out all those nagging issues of getting accused of wife beating on a public street. It would be a wonderful, feel-good human interest story.
I know one guy who would be willing to provide testimony. Myers' manager, Charlie Manuel, proved to be an argument against evolution when he expressed his displeasure with the media's insistence on questioning Myers about the incident. The boy shouldn't have to answer those questions, Manuel said.
Isn't it better, sometimes, just to keep your mouth shut?
Oh, by the way, here are the vitals on the Myers' battle:
|"What? Did I say something that offended you?"|
Brett Myers, 6 foot 4, 240 pounds.
Kim Myers, 5 foot 4, 120 pounds.
Baseball is a really twisted world. It's the only major sport that pays almost no attention to public image unless and until the public outrage spills over the top. After all, this is a sport that needed two authors and their killer book to finally own up to the steroid problem and order someone to investigate.
You want to know how messed up this is? You want proof? The Guillen-Mariotti fiasco, perhaps because it pertains to sensitivity training, has brought John Rocker out from under the porch. The dogs were barking or something, but Big John came out and said sensitivity training was a waste of time. A farce, he called it.
What hath Ozzie wrought? A return of Rocker, that's what. God help us all.
This Week's List
• Two facts: (1) more NBA teams have their fortunes immediately affected by the draft than in any other sport; (2) in terms of coverage and overall interest, the NBA draft compares to the NFL draft the way attendance at Marlin games compares to attendance at Yankee games.
• One thing that hurts the NBA: Coaches and GMs seem preoccupied with detailing players' deficiencies, rather than extolling their virtues.
• Two examples, from both ends of the draft: (1) Adam Morrison, expected to be taken near the top, is considered a one-dimensional player who doesn't play defense and might not be able to create his shot in the NBA; (2) Leon Powe, expected to be taken in the second round, is an undersized power forward who is a great rebounder but doesn't have a midrange jumper.
• Bottom line: Both guys do things.
• Tell me again why we, as proud Americans, should be disappointed in our team's failure to get out of pool play: The randomness of the penalty calls, the idiocy of the slap-fighting players -- yeah, we're really missing out big on this whole World Cup phenomenon.
• By the way: Looking at the World Cup refereeing, it occurred to me that maybe Paul Tagliabue is in charge of assigning and schooling these guys.
• Never before has failure been so preordained: Isiah Thomas, coach of the Knicks.
• Looking at Isiah sitting there listening to James Dolan tell him, on camera, that he has one year to clean up his own mess reminded me of one other famous televised interview: Mike Tyson and Robin Givens on "60 Minutes."
• We only hear about these guys once a year, but this year's College World Series put a spotlight on one guy who's worth rooting for beyond the end of the final game: Pat Casey, head coach, Oregon State.
• Think Kenny Lofton in his prime, only with power: One guy rapidly on his way to becoming a big star is Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson.
• Not that a tall pile always means truth, but damn this pile is getting tall: Lance Armstrong, fighting allegations again, and this time some of them are coming from Greg LeMond, who claims Lance threatened his life.
• And finally, sometimes we criticize the sports world for being a parallel universe, then something appears that makes you realize the alleged real world can get pretty funky, too: A headline Monday read, "New Orleans merchants terrorized by transvestite gang."
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Page 2 here.