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MANHATTAN BEACH… With the Minnesota Twins having some rough luck the past handful of seasons and with my total immersion into most things Hockey, I haven’t been following baseball with the fervor I once did. And that’s a shame because I like it as much as ever. Since the ice world is on off-season hiatus I have seen some games recently, mostly my Twins but also watching my 2nd favorite club, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Twins had a decent first half of the season, but in observing them before the All Star break and right after, they were struggling a bit and I began to wonder if they were going to fall back in the Central Division race and if they did, could they come up with enough juice to get back into it.
They just lost two tilts out in Oakland and got walked off in each, Saturday night in the bottom of the 9th and this afternoon in the bottom of the 12th. If I had to assess their chances right now I would have to be honest and say that the playoffs are probably a ways off still. But I have to also say that they are way ahead of last years club and trending upward. The Cards? They are usually pretty competitive but the last two years, with the emergence of the Chicago Cubs in the National Central, they have taken a back seat to the World Champion Cubbies. Yeah, that still sounds pretty different doesn’t it? Anyway, the Cards are hovering just under or just over the .500 mark and I don’t see them getting in either. I would totally love to get to Chi-town for a tilt before the end of the season, Wrigley Field is a veritable Baseball Mecca and that’s that. No debate possible. The pre-game food aroma? Someone should get that into a spray can and sell it.
I have a family member just outside of the Springfield IL area, which is mostly Cards country, but there are some Cub strongholds too. Frances Long is 103 years old and does not miss too many Cards games. The first time I met her I was 13 and she was total Cards back then too. I was laughing a few years back when it was mid-May and the Cards were having a mid week off day and right before 7 o’clock the phone rang. It was Frances and she was trying to figure out which channel a Blackhawk’s playoff game was showing on her satellite TV! I told her that I didn’t know she was much of a hockey fan, but she said she watches frequently if it doesn’t interfere with the Cards games! She lived on her own until about a year ago when she moved in with a daughter close by. She is still mentally sharp and doing well.
So, I’m waiting for the Cards to get going yesterday and while I was waiting put on the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The inductees announced back in January were Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Bud Selig, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and John Schuerholz. Of course Selig and Schuerholz were Executives and Rodriguez, Bagwell and Raines go into the Hall in the player category. I heard the class announced in January and since it was in the heat of another great NHL campaign, it came and went through my sphere. And honestly, until I saw the ceremony yesterday, had given it little additional thought. But as the ceremony began and the inductees were announced once again, the thought immediately crossed my mind as to how and why Rodriguez and Selig were getting into the hallowed Hall.
Rodriguez has been alleged to have used steroids at one point in his career, and Selig basically oversaw the better part of that era as MLB Commissioner. Pudge, it can be argued has the numbers to get into the Hall. He has almost 3000 hits and is generally regarded as the best defensive catcher in the history of the game, featuring a 48% throw out rate of attempted base steals. He has been awarded numerous Gold Gloves as a catcher and made the MLB All Star game on many occasions as well. Based on his on field performance, I don’t have any problems with Rodriguez’s induction. But the cloud of PED suspicion hasn’t really ever been lifted in his case, spurred on by claims from former teammate Jose Canseco that he personally injected Pudge. Yeah, Canseco is a knucklehead, but a lot of his tell-all has held up over the years. (my favorite Canseco moment was when he got hit on top of the head with a flyball that then bounced up and over the wall for a HR)
Bud Selig owned the Milwaukee Brewers at one time, and after being named Commissioner of MLB transferred ownership to his daughter. His ascension to the top chair came on a palace coup against Fay Vincent and Selig was one of his biggest opponents. He was named acting Commissioner and served in that capacity from 1992-98 before being named Commissioner. Vincent blew the whistle on the owners in a free agent collusion case (1985-87) that saw the players receive a $280mil award. Selig was found to have participated in that collusion. He and fellow owners voted in majority to oust Vincent and install one of their own, marking the 1st time MLB did not have a Commissioner independent of ownership.
This irked me at the time. Selig oversaw the league during the majority of the steroid era. In fact, it has been widely alleged that the usage of PED’s was used as a bargaining chip at times during collective bargaining with the players union. Give us this, we’ll overlook that. This led to perhaps the most contentious timeframe in the history of the league. There isn’t a single hitting record of import that isn’t being questioned due to the PED phenom. Selig had some positive achievements but then there are the clouds. Same with Pudge.
So, I ask; If Rose can’t get in, (betting) Bonds, McGwire and Sosa can‘t get in, (PED’s) why Selig and Rodriguez? It would be flippant to say that I don’t care, because I do care, but I’m asking and I’d like some answers. These inductions scream out hypocrisy to me.
I have only briefly laid out a case against Pudge, while Selig’s is very complex. I don’t think they belong. Am I wrong? PEACE