Two men worth not rememberingWell friends, it was quite a week for Major League Baseball, wasn’t it? First, Marvin Miller, one of the most despicable characters ever to soil the great game, dies. Then it was announced that three very dubious players are first timers on the Hall of Fame ballot, namely Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens. To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to MLB for many years now. The greed of the players and one key free agent signing turned me away long ago.
By: Mark Schuttenhelm For The Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Well friends, it was quite a week for Major League Baseball, wasn’t it?
First, Marvin Miller, one of the most despicable characters ever to soil the great game, dies. Then it was announced that three very dubious players are first timers on the Hall of Fame ballot, namely Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens. To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to MLB for many years now. The greed of the players and one key free agent signing turned me away long ago.
But to have Miller and Bonds in the headlines the same week demands some commentary. These two men are the poster children for all that is wrong with the once great national pastime.
Marvin Miller is the man who, almost singlehandedly, ruined Major League Baseball. He made it possible for a shortstop hitting .197 and a starting pitcher with a losing record and an ERA over 4.00 to become millionaires. And as an added bonus, his obsession with sticking it to management paved the way for greedy athletes in all professional sports.
As head of the players union, he brought us free agency, long-term guaranteed contracts, and many more ruinous things. Miller attempted to compare the spoiled, coddled baseball players with coal miners, toiling away a mile underground in dangerous conditions. Now, I don’t begrudge an athlete making big money, especially football and hockey players. Those guys are giving up their bodies for our entertainment. Let’s face it ... football and hockey players, after their careers end, are living with aches, pains and worse that most of us don’t have to deal with and don’t want to deal with.
But baseball players? Spare me. Starting pitchers who pick up the ball every five days and throw six innings or so. Relievers who come in for a batter or two. Millionaires, one and all. Many ballplayers can’t even be motivated enough to run out a ground ball anymore. And I’ll get to one of the biggest loafers of all time, Barry Bonds, in a moment.
Getting back to the greed in baseball, my biggest problem with the situation is that it’s always a one way street. A player who signs a long term deal seeking security should not then demand the team renegotiate the deal after he has a good year. On the flip side, when a player puts up big numbers and signs a huge deal as a free agent, the team has no recourse if his performance goes down the drain. They’re still stuck paying the guy. And the lack of effort just drives me crazy. I totally agree with broadcaster Tim McCarver’s position on this. With the money these guys are making, if they can’t run hard to first base three or four times a night, there’s something wrong with the picture. We can thank Marvin Miller for much of this.
Now on to Mr. Barry Bonds.
I had this guy figured out long before he discovered what the wonders of science could do for his body.
Bonds was a loafer from the word go. I found this out firsthand at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh back in the late 1980’s while Bonds was still a Pirate.
My buddy, a Pirate fan, and myself, a San Francisco Giants fan, took the ride across Pennsylvania to take in a ball game. Two Giants, Robby Thompson and Brett Butler, took advantage of Bonds lackadaisical play in left field and turned routine singles into doubles. The Pittsburgh fans showed no mercy. They booed Bonds with gusto each time. Of course, Bonds, now long retired, has yet to run hard to first base on a grounder or fly ball. The talented Bonds knew when to exert himself though. If he had a chance to appear on the ESPN highlight reel by making a circus catch, he instinctively knew to go hard. The rest of the time, he dogged it.
And I was a huge fan of his dad Bobby. But something about Barry always rubbed me the wrong way. When the Giants signed him as a free agent, my days as a MLB fan effectively ended. There was simply no way I could root for this guy, or another team for that matter. My instincts turned out to be spot on. His arrogant, surly attitude, not only towards the fans and press, but even towards his own teammates, is well documented.
His home run record and the second half of his career are tainted by probable performance enhancing drug use. I’m certainly convinced he used them. He was booed at every ballpark in the country. Instead of ending his career with some class, he demanded yet another multi-million dollar contract. Finding no takers, Bonds slinked off into the sunset, ending a dirty, tawdry chapter in baseball history.
So here’s hoping Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens are never allowed to tarnish the Hall Of Fame. And no, I didn’t send flowers for Marvin Miller’s funeral.
Mark Schuttenhelm is a frequent contributor to the Opinion Corner