Oh, she’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain when she comes, when she comes.
And she’s here!
This past Monday, the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame eligibles were posted. Let the debates begin! Same old stuff? Sure, but it might supply middle relief to all those sports radio and TV get-rich come-ons to go-broke betting parlays.
What to do, again, about all those steroid sluggers and slingers as per the Hall of Fame?
Well, it all depends on what you now regard as baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Is it a structure that honors the legacies of men of exceptional natural achievement and reasonably good character and dignity in career service to The Game?
Or should it now double as a repository of the extraordinary accumulation of numbers by the hook or by crook? Is it now a house of cards built on steroid suspicions, facts and rationalizations? Is the future not what it used to be?
And what does this have to do with the late George Steinbrenner?
Let’s examine a twisted path that began with Steinbrenner and has affected and afflicted Hall of Fame inclusions, candidates and opinions to this day, specifically Monday — when Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds were listed as 10-year last-chancers, while Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz are first-chancers.
And let’s start at the end. The Steroid Era would not have occurred under the commissionership of Fay Vincent, a man who could do straight math and see what he couldn’t miss. Vincent regarded baseball, first and foremost, as a cherished American sport, his position one of national trust.
Bud Selig, Vincent’s successor, was a steward who only measured MLB’s success in terms of finances — “Bottom Line Bud” — thus the Steroid Era on his blinkered watch became a matter of both course and of course.
Selig became acting commissioner in 1992, after Vincent was dumped because he practiced the integrity he preached. In 1998, the Hall invited doubt and curiosity when Steinbrenner was named to its board of directors. It apparently didn’t matter that Steinbrenner was twice suspended, the second a temporary lifetime banishment, from baseball.
The first time was for trying to buy his way into the Nixon White House then directing employees to lie about it to federal investigators, both leading to felony convictions.
The second was for embracing a delusional, mentally impaired self-declared pal of Dave Winfield’s in an effort to get ugly info on Winfield.
While Steinbrenner, his buddies in the Tampa FBI and New York media, tried to portray Howard Spira as mobster and shakedown artist, he was nothing more menacing than a pathetic soul who was lured by the tacit bait that he’d become a top-shelf executive on Steinbrenner’s payroll.
Spira was played for the vulnerable fool he was, even handed brochures to peruse about Steinbrenner’s American Ship Building Company.
He was so delusional that even when in prison he held out hope Steinbrenner would hire him as the Yankees’ assistant GM.
While Spira was convicted at trial, sentenced to 2 ¹/₂ years — sent to a federal psychiatric prison in North Carolina — Vincent saw through to the core of the case and, for a second time, Steinbrenner was suspended for the malevolent and malodorous purchase of influence.
That decision prefaced the end of Vincent as a commissioner. Team owners would no longer suffer a man who actually took the title seriously. They oiled the skids for his removal, lest Vincent continue to be a real-deal leader and advocate for baseball as opposed to someone hired to both protect and swell their wallets.
So next came Selig, who made a deal of willful silence and blindness with Donald Fehr’s MLBPA to allow suddenly and conspicuously mass-muscled players to pack the stands and inflate TV ratings by suddenly making Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron seem irrelevant.
Then, when the steroids inevitably hit the fan — as if he and Fehr could forever keep the lid on it — Selig outrageously portrayed himself as the knight on the white steed who galloped in to save baseball. It just took Selig a dozen years to saddle up.
Then, almost immediately after his retirement in 2015, Selig was fast-tracked into the Hall of Fame with 93.7 percent of voters’ approval. In short, the Spira trial and Steinbrenner suspension gave birth to the Selig and Steroids Era.
In other words, if the Hall of Fame is now plenty good enough for Bud Selig, why not those who benefited from his see-no-evil, speak-no-evil steroid invites and bottom-line myopia?
Bettors aren’t ones profiting from parlays
Why are new, legal sports gambling operations and their media sales force so eager to have fans bet parlays? While this column has tried to make it plain that it’s because parlays are fools’ gold — hard to win and pay rotten odds if one hits — now we have some hard numbers:
According the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, through October, N.J. has already cleared $608 million this year on sports betting. That’s a lot of losing, brothers and sisters.
But the most profitable for the operators, by far, has been on “get-rich!” parlays — $335.2 million through October, more than three times more than on other bets.
Here’s the breakdown on profits: parlays 17.1 percent, other 5.3 percent, baseball 4.2 percent, basketball 3.9 percent, football 3.2 percent.
As Lt. Kojak would say, “Who loves ya, baby?”
’Tis the season: For some not-so-odd reason, the holiday buying season is chosen by sports collectibles operations to heavily discount its goods, 20-60 percent off. Fabulous!
But given that the merchandise, much of carrying claims of players’ genuine autographs as per “certificates of authenticity,” have no established value, discounts mean nothing, as if plucked from the air and the imaginations of sellers.
Wow, 60 percent off something that has no known value! I’ll take two!
Recruit charged in killing
Stories that once seemed so impossible and horrifying that they’d make huge news are now given minimal attention or just ignored.
Last week Cameron Walker, a 17-year-old high school senior from Georgia who had committed to play basketball at George Mason University in Virginia, was arrested, charged with the shooting murder of a 24-year-old man during an armed robbery.
Get off LeBron James’ back. That crotch-grabbing dance he performed after hit a 3 this past week was just an audition for the Super Bowl halftime show.
NBC’s telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was again exploited to promote NBC shows, acts and other goods — including the Winter Olympics, which NBC now must pretend will not be held in despotic Communist China in a couple of months.
Yep, all those pro-democracy advocates locked up or “disappeared” in China, who cares? NBC Olympic personnel and Olympians can select their ensembles from China’s Nike outlet factory stores, open all day and night. Tell ’em LeBron sent ya!