Article

WHAT WAS ONCE A GAME HAS DESCENDED INTO A MONEY-GRUBBING FARCE, BUT HIRSUTE SOX HELP RESTORE SOME LOST PERSPECTIVE

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

_____________________________________________

CATCH THE PLANET TODAY, ON PCTV, LIVE, ON “GOOD MORNING, PITTSFIELD” WITH GUEST HOST JIM CAMPAGNA    

——————————–

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, OCT. 7, 2013) — It was just another boring day in Major League Baseball this past weekend: there were the playoffs, which have become more watered down than Mother Hubbard’s “hobo soup,” there was one team telling one player that he wasn’t worth $300 million, and there were two lawsuits.

(Unpaid non-political advertisement, not paid for by the committee to elect Dan Valenti King of Pittsfield)

Is is any wonder why THE PLANET no longer enjoys what passes for MLB? How different than back in the day, the 1980s and early 90s, when we made a living getting paid to write about baseball, a game that, especially in the early to mid 80s, hadn’t yet lost its collective mind, heart, and soul in reckless pursuit of the Almighty Dollar. (We shall leave alone a consideration of The Game in the 1950s and 60s, before the inmates were freed to run the asylemic dugouts). THE PLANET wrote a series of well-received books, were welcome gratis at every park in the majors, received a lifetime pass to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for our contributions to baseball literature, and each spring and summer enjoyed paid vacations while writing about America’s “National Pastime.” We remember many a day waking up and wondering, “What, they’re paying me to do this?!”

That Pastime, however, has become a Pastime Paradise.

In the first lawsuit, Major League Baseball Players Association lawyers, acting on behalf of Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, sued baseball commissioner Bud Selig and MLB, accusing them of “vigilante justice” and engaging in a “witch hunt” meant to “destroy [his] reputation and career.”  If one knew nothing about this case, Rodriguez’s claims would fall flat. Logically, why would MLB want to ruin the career of a player who has been one of its marquee stars? It makes no sense. Never in our wildest dreams would we envision a scenario in which we agreed with anything Bud Selig did “for the best interests of the game,” but that’s how much we have come to loathe not Rodriguez, personally, but all that he has come to represent.

The suit stems from the results of an investigation MLB conducted into alleged violations of the game’s drug policy and labor contract. On the strength of the probe’s findings, which centered on Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, MLB suspended Rodriguez 211 games. The ballplayer immediately filed a grievance, and, given one of the many stupid provisions of the Basic Agreement, the action suspended the suspension, allowing Rodriguez to rejoin the Yankees and finish out the season.

In its statement, the league said the suit’s allegations are not “relevant to the real issue: whether Mr. Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by using and possessing numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years and whether he violated the Basic Agreement by attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.”

There are no heroes in this story, only villains. The actions will perpetuate MLB’s continuing decline from a game to a business to a glitzy side-show, one that is at the same time overpriced and cheapened by those same abundant dollar bills.

Lifetime batting average: .065

The second suit involves two former St. Louis Cardinals stars. Albert Pujols filed against Jack Clark over Clark’s on-air comments accusing Pujols of juicing. Pujols, you might recall, suckered the Los Angeles Angels into paying him $240 million to play baseball for them. After wrapping up the money, Pujols promptly plummeted into mediocrity, morphing from the Bambino into the Bamboozler. He hit .258 with 17 home runs and 64 RBIs, stats closer to Hank Aguirre than Hank Aaron.

Pujols strenuously denied Clark’s claims, and in doing so, brought the spotlight on them. Clark made the comments in the first week as co-host of a radio sports talk show. Had Pujols been secure in himself, in his character, and in his career, he would have ignored Clark’s comments or at most dismissed them with a derisive laugh. Pujols was a superstar, Clark a has-been.

Instead, Pujols went after Clark, hard, attempting a take-out slide with spikes slashing …all over those potent syllabic abstractions, words. Clark didn’t physically attack Pujols. He didn’t wield sticks, stones, or any other form of actual weapons. He fashioned words out of the 26 characters of the alphabet. No one knows whose telling the truth here, but does it matter? If Pujols had nothing to do with juicing, why would he be so upset over the words of a struggling radio talk show host — words that would have been forgotten not long after they were uttered had Pujols only left them alone. He doth protest too loud.

Hammerin’ Hank. Need we say more?

THE PLANET doesn’t understand why anyone secure in themselves with who they are would be outraged over words that have no truth. People, especially our critics, contend we give them rough rides into the side boards, and we laugh at that. Trust us, no public figure takes more vicious abuse than we do. They are mere words. They can do us no harm. We know who were are, and we are pleased with that. Those empty syllables have all the power of a ping-pong ball being shot out of a burp gun against a steel wall.

MLB, we hardly knew ye.

That being said, we must say that the 2013 edition of the Boston Red Sox have been fun to watch, particularly down the stretch and into the post-season. Boston performed a rare worst-to-first, won the division crown, took its first two games in the playoff series with Tampa Bay, and did it with the kind of fun, enjoyable, loosey-goosey collections of ballplayers that brought to mind The Idiots of 2004 or even the Gas House Gang of the 1920s.

The Red Sox cleaned out the cancer in the clubhouse (especially Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford), put an overmatched manager in the James Bond ejection seat and brought in a smart baseball man who already knew his way around the Boston clubhouse (bye-bye, Bobby Valentine, hello John Farrell), and made a series a moves to bring hard-nosed, down-in-the-dirt ballplayers to Beantown (Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes).

Game Three of the best-of-five series with Tampa plays out tonight. In Game Two, the official attendance at Fenway Park was 38,705 or 104.4% of capacity. Judging by the standees, though, there’s no way attendance was under 40,000. We’ve heard the old ball yard loud, but nothing like we heard Saturday night. There is no way the Rays win this series or even one game. The Red Sox have the brooms out with the beards still growing. It’s been fun to have fun with Ye Olde Game again.

Thanks, fellas.

—————————————————————————-

“Great minds have sought you — lacking someone else. / You have been second, always. Tragical? / No. You preferred it to the usual thing.”Ezra Pound, “Portrait D’unne Femme,” (1912)

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.


20 Responses to “WHAT WAS ONCE A GAME HAS DESCENDED INTO A MONEY-GRUBBING FARCE, BUT HIRSUTE SOX HELP RESTORE SOME LOST PERSPECTIVE”

  1. B. Clairmont
    October 7, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    Dan,

    Does this mean you would go to a Red Sox playoff game?

    Barry

    • danvalenti
      October 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Yes.

      • B. Clairmont
        October 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

        Nice!

        • danvalenti
          October 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

          Maybe in the ALCS.

  2. Payroll Patroit
    October 7, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    Dan, maybe you should try real TV with Pittsfield’s Westfield State University President E.Dobelle

    http://www.wcvb.com/news/investigative/westfield-state-funding-suspended-by-massachusetts-commissioner/-/12520878/22286308/-/l4btc9z/-/index.html

    PS: Dan don’t let anyone else buy you the tickets, ask the former mayor, who is on the Westfield State Board overseeing
    the Westfield President.

    • dusty
      October 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

      Who was it that ratted out Ruberto anyway? Is he somewhere fishing from the bottom of some lake?

    • danvalenti
      October 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

      Nope. If I go, I’m paying my way, even though I could score media passes. Thing is, I don’t want to “work” the game. I want to enjoy it as fun, not work.

  3. Thomas More
    October 7, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    On the bright side Gov Patrick signed into law a bill that makes 17 year olds juveniles. No more publishing their names. Now my 17 yo son, Copernicus, can feel free to shove a broomstick up a 13 year olds butt without bringing shame to his mother and me and no-one else will know it happened. Certainly hopes this applies to Galileo and his folks.

  4. Russell Moody
    October 7, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    yeah, the good old days… the 80′s… when steroids were ignored…

  5. Tim Bartini
    October 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Dan I believe Rodriguez filed his law suit with his own team of lawyers, not with MLB Players association lawyers. Even the union wants nothing to do with him.

  6. CarlosDanger
    October 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Yes, the MLB playoff system is approaching the joke that is the NHL and NBA playoff systems. How on earth is a playoff system good when one team has to wait 5 days just to play its first game? BB is meant to be played every day. The wildcard one game playoff is also a joke – it’s only meant to bring more undeserving teams into the playoffs in order to make more money. Myself, I think I’ve watched 4 innings total so far because it’s really become downright boring. And it’s just gonna get worse; more teams will be included in the future, just watch.

    • danvalenti
      October 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      CARLOS
      Agreed. The watered-down playoff system is a joke. Give me two leagues, two pennant winners, and one seven-game World Series.

  7. We Love Pittsfield
    October 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    As a huge Red Sox fan I’ve enjoyed every minute of this year and this year playoffs. But agree with DV on the role of $$ in MLB. In some ways it was almost better last year not to have to give a hoot about our team, almost mind you! Go Sox.

    • danvalenti
      October 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      WLP
      Appreciate the nod.

  8. Nota
    October 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    Valenti is wrong, Tampa wins the third game tonight.

  9. Ed Shepardson
    October 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    If JIM CAMPAGNA is looking for a career in radio, he needs to learn to listen more and talk less. I say this without demeaning his volunteer efforts on WTBR. In fact, I applaud his efforts.

    • danvalenti
      October 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      I applaud them, too. I love doing radio with JC.

  10. Jonathan Melle
    October 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Several stores are closing on North Street. There is nowhere to park. Most of the people are on welfare anyways. Stores thrive in Great Barrington, but not in downtown Pittsfield.

  11. Shakes His Head
    October 8, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Nowhere to park, and let’s jack up the parking fines. Everyone will be parking over at the new super center.

    • danvalenti
      October 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      THE PLANET shall address the four business failures on Friday. We will look at it from a wider perspective: What does it tell us about the economic policies of Mayor Bianchi?