A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

John Roseboro

Baseball learned from its violence and stupidity. Sure, we still have guys who want to start fights - class acts like Jose Offerman who have since been banned for life for attacking opponents with a bat, but yeah... we've learned.
We don't play our game to kick the tar out of our opponents. Sure, we have to be more like Bob Gibson and own those 17 inches of plate, but besides being afraid to pitch inside to brush back a batter that is crowding the plate (whether or not he has Barry Bonds' armor on or not), but that doesn't mean that we need to go beyond retaliatory pitching if our players get hit by a frustrated jerk of a pitcher.
The NHL on the other hand hasn't even learned from the NFL about what it takes to stop cheap hits. In the wake of their quest to be tough manly men that are pretty much only broadcast on hunting / fishing networks, they have decided to not eliminate head shots, which are all too often cheap shots to take out an opponent. They have said that out of 55,000 hits, only a small percentage result in concussions, so it doesn't matter what league leader and mega star is out with one now (Sidney Crosby). It doesn't matter than the Canadians want to go after the guy who took out Max Pacioretty (Zdeno Chara). But alas... be it legal because it's part of the game (like the WWE) or because it keeps things fast paced and physical, we never learn.
We don't let our players go all Pete Rose on Ray Fosse in the All Star games, but we want fast paced action - even with millions invested in play and development of stars. We want our cake and we want to be able to eat it too. We want to call it the integrity of the game, and we want to make sure that the nanny state doesn't take over, but sometimes, we just don't think.
Cheap attacks aren't cool. Even in the WWE, we're supposed to hate the heels that purport them on the babyfaces.
And if we look back to baseball's darkest moments and remember Juan Marichal at the plate getting so angry that he picked up his bat and used John Roseboro's head for a target after he threw too closely to Marichal's head on a couple of return pitches, we see dark and ugly. But such is a baseball feud between 2 teams (Los Angeles and San Francisco OR Boston and New York). Sure, there are other teams that hate one another, but for the most part, it's agression and the game. Coming up behind a player a slamming him into the boards and glass to the point where he is laying on the ice unable to contemplate what century he is in is a completely different story and for that, we don't need to pretend and call things manlier than they are.
Sometimes, we just need to step up and do what's right.

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