Two Cents: Yanks Lose Game Five, Teach Valuable Lesson (10/12/05)

(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)

I finally did it. I broke down and actually watched my first baseball game of the season Monday night. And I have to admit I actually learned a lot about baseball and life while watching Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series between the Yankees and the Angels.

I learned how baseball and society have a symbiotic relationship and how the ebb and flow of our culture is reflected in our grand old game. I became aware how the passing of time is inevitable and that’s why it’s necessary to take your time and pay attention to the little things.

I learned that no matter what the circumstances, you have to keep trying and never quit and that good things come to those who wait.

Wait a minute, I learned all that stuff from watching Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary on PBS 12-years ago!

Seriously it was a very entertaining game, and worthy of being the first baseball game I’ve watched all year. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be the last also.

If the Yanks had won, chances are I’d still watch. But thanks to a boneheaded non-move by Joe Torre, New York is out of it. Torre stayed a little too long with pitcher Mike Mussina – who is at his best winning 1-0 or 2-0 games.

If I knew that it was time to yank Moose after giving up his second run, why didn’t Torre? Instead, he left him in, and he gave up what turned out to be another insurmountable three runs.

But the Yanks were still in it. In the eighth inning Derek Jeter led off with a homer. Alex Rodriguez followed that up by destroying momentum with a pop out. Then Jeter led off the ninth with a single, and A-Rod promptly grounded into a double play that effectively ended the season.

So, I actually did learn something. I learned that Rodriguez is one of the most overrated players in any professional sport. I don’t care what you do in the regular season; players make their bones in the playoffs.

A-Rod played poorly in last year’s playoffs and absolutely stunk it up this year against the Angels. Why do I keep hearing that he’s the greatest player ever? I haven’t seen one reason for anyone to make that claim.

I believe that the best player in baseball plays to the immediate left of Rodriguez. Jeter is clutch, he’s a winner and he’s a leader.

Most of his numbers are pedestrian, but you can’t accurately measure his heart and what he brings to the Yankees.

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Dice

NBA Commissioner David Stern recently instituted a dress code for his league. Is there anyone else out there that finds this as ridiculous as I do?

Stern wants his players to wear slacks, dress coats and shirts with collars when attending any team function. That means flights, hotel rooms, bus trips, press conferences; you name it.

Who cares what the Lakers are wearing when they reach their hotel or get on their team flight at 2 a.m.? Why does it matter what Tony Parker has on when he enters the stadium – where no one in the public sees him – and goes to the locker room?

And who pays attention to the bench and what throwback jerseys players are rocking when the greatest game in the world is being played in front of them?

Is this an attempt to make the public believe that these are young professionals instead of young athletes who get paid to PLAY a game? If there was ever a workplace that should be business casual (jeans anyone?) it should be the NBA.

If Stern was going to hammer anyone in the league about what they are wearing, how about keeping Nuggets coach George Karl from wearing anymore throwback jerseys? He sported one on the sidelines once last year during a game and looked like a pasty white dude with no street cred or rhythm trying to be down with the hip-hop community.

At least he gets points for trying to relate to the NBA’s fans and players. Stern is doing the exact opposite. He is concerned with his league’s image, but is leveling a dress code the way to fix it?

I don’t think there’s an image problem; I believe that the NBA is just a reflection of our culture and society (more than baseball is now). The real issue here is how white America is becoming more and more nervous and afraid of cornrows, baggy clothes, and tattoos.

But last I checked that’s the uniform of suburban America. Almost everyone I know has a tat and if you check any school in the county, I guarantee you that you’re going to find a bunch of kids wearing baggy clothes.

I’ve even seen little white girls sporting cornrows, so what’s the big deal?

Stern is without question the smartest and most powerful commissioner in professional sports. I just hope this dress code isn’t some knee-jerk reaction to complaints from upper crust, moldy old money crews that kick it in Manhattan at Casa de Stern.

The NBA should be about basketball, not whether Allen Iverson is going to be fined because he’s wearing a Darryl Dawkins jersey when entering his hotel.

Categories: Baseball, Basketball, sports

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