Friday, May 18, 2007

This Bud Needs To Say Something -- And Quick -- About Bonds' HR Assault

We don't ask a lot from Bud Selig, baseball's farcical commissioner. Rarely do we go to him for any sort of direction or bon mots -- mainly because we know we'll almost always be sorely disappointed.

So is it too much to ask that Selig say something, anything, about his intentions regarding Barry Bonds' assault on Hank Aaron's homerun record?

We've already heard from Aaron regarding this matter. Hammerin' Hank has made himself clear: He won't be anywhere near the ballpark where his record might fall to Bonds. No sir. Fine. We can debate his reasoning all we want (I happen to agree with it) but at least we have something to debate.

After Aaron (it's not often a record of this magnitude falls when the former holder is still alive) and Bonds, the most relevant person in all this is Selig, like it or not. And the other day, with yet another chance to make his intentions known about whether he plans on being in attendance when Bonds passes Aaron, Selig was coy.

"Is he getting close?," he asked facetiously. I could abide his droll comment, if it had been followed by anything of substance. Instead, Bud said something about getting back to us on this issue. Good grief.

Selig has been mum for far too long about Bonds and Aaron

OK, here's my opinion -- or what I think I would/should do if I was in Selig's shoes.

This is a baseball record, not a Bud Selig record. It's the sort of event that, regardless of the circumstances behind it, should be witnessed by the sport's commissioner in person -- and in full view of the people, not tucked away in some luxury suite. Selig can hold whatever personal view he wants -- this is America, after all -- but he needs to show up. This is one of those situations when it's acceptable for Selig to separate his titular duty from his personal feelings. Did NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle shun the presenting of the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Raiders owner Al Davis (twice), despite the two men's dislike of each other? No. Because it was his duty as commissioner to present the trophy to the Super Bowl winners.

Selig should realize that it's not going to besmirch baseball if he sits in a box seat and watches Bonds crack his 756th homer. He doesn't have to cheer and get all googly-eyed. But some polite applause and a handshake won't harm anything. Maybe he can look at it as a mayor does of another ribbon-cutting somewhere: grip and grin -- a photo opportunity. Nothing more, nothing less.

Here's what he needs to say: "There was never any question, in my mind, that I was going to do whatever I could to be in attendance when Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's homerun record. I'm sorry for having evaded the subject, but I believe the commissioner of baseball should be in attendance when such an event as this occurs."

That's all. End of discussion. He's just saying he's going to be there -- not that he condones everything that is clouding the moment.

It's sad, of course, that this should even be an unanswered question. Normally, this would be a slam-dunk, when a record this momentous is eclipsed. But the mere fact that we're even asking the question of Selig is much more of an indictment of Bonds than it is of the commissioner (though we could debate baseball's response to the steroid issue for hours on end).

No, we don't ask much from Bud Selig. Maybe because our expectations are so low.


Blogger Jerry Cosyn said...

On this one, I have to disagree. Whether Selig is or is not present when Bonds breaks Aaron's record is completely irrelevant. Bud Selig is irrelevant. And all the hoopla about "Will he be there or won't he?" is foolishness more suited to a People magazine article or a daytime soap opera than to baseball or its history. Who gives a spit whether Selig is there? Who cares where Selig is at any time, for anything? He's a non-entity, and all the coverage being given to "where does Selig plan to be?" by the press is a waste of ink (or phosphor dots, as the case may be). It has absolutely nothing to do with baseball. It's just more wanking by the press, trying to hype up some "issue" out of thin air and dupe people into caring about it.

I enjoy your column, and come by often, and pretty nearly always agree with you. And even this time, though I disagree, I respect your opinion and your writing. Thanks for providing a good site on baseball and the Tigers.

11:02 AM  

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