Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Here's Phil Taylor's comment on two recent bits of baseball-linked buffoonery, the "vicious" assault upon someone getting paid for dressing up in a sausage costume by a ballplayer in Milwaukee, who was then dragged off in handcuffs, and manager Dusty Baker's slightly bizarre but basically harmless attempt at historical anthropology. Dusty is no ignorant racist, of course--for those who may not know, he's black; he's an experienced, respected, and successful manager who previously had a fine career as a player.

Check out this chronological list of bizarre team-mascot incidents from CNN-SI. It's a gas.

The films of the Great Sausage Beating and the arrest of the player were shown on Spanish TV, along with other shots of beanball brawls and those two disgraceful incidents when some morons charged the field and assaulted a first-base coach and an ump, as signs that American culture is degenerating into a downward spiral of violence.

Oh, please. Remember Heysel? Or Sheffield? Or Glasgow? Or the time the FC Barcelona hooligans, the Boixos Nois, stabbed a French fan of crosstown rival Espanyol to death? Or when some Atletico Madrid thugs stabbed a Real Sociedad fan to death while shouting "Let's get those fucking Basques!" Or, just this season, the pig-head-throwing antics of the so-called Barca "fans", or when the crowd in Seville mobbed and beat a security guard? Total killings in American sports due to fan violence: zero, as far as I know, over the last fifty years, outside Detroit anyway. Those people are nuts.

Most Representative Sports Hero of a City: New York, Lou Gehrig. San Francisco, Joe Montana. Chicago, Michael Jordan. Detroit: Ty Cobb. Cobb was so racist he used to fly into rages at the very sight of a black person. Somebody called him "nigger-lover" once from the stands and he charged the bleachers and beat the loudmouth half to death. Players in those days wore shoes with sharpened metal spikes, and Cobb "spiked" the other team's players at every opportunity. He also fixed at least one game while he was a manager.

By the way, they're having the world swimming championships here in Barcelona. The American team has been booed by the crowd at almost every event. Fine. If that's the way they want it, that's the way they can have it.

On an upbeat note, how about those Kansas City Royals? They were supposed to stink this year. Who figured Michael Tucker or Angel Berroa or Jose Lima, of all people, would be having good years? I can't believe they're seven games up in the AL Central at the All-Star break. In a nice bit of inclusiveness, this year's slogan is bilingual: "We believe -- nosotros creemos". Several notable Royals--Beltran, Ibanez, Febles, Hernandez, Lima, Berroa--are Hispanic, as is manager Tony Pena.

The pathetic Barca can't get anybody signed. They've backed down and are going to have to pay Patrick Kluivert's huge contract, variously reported as €6m-8m a year. Kluivert is not a bad player, but he is not a superstar and he is making superstar money. Man U is going to beat out Barca in the race for Paris St-Germain's Ronaldinho, since their offer is €10m higher than Barca's. Joan Laporta, Barca president, said, "We've made our offer. They can take it or leave it". Wanna bet PSG leave it? They've signed Marquez, the Mexican center defenseman from Monaco, which does address a need, and he's still pretty young, so it's a good signing. They also want to add Valencia's center defenseman Ayala, who is Argentinian. He's a real thug. They've signed Rustu, the Turkish goalie. That means that three of Barca's four spaces available for "extracommunity" player are taken. That leaves Saviola, Riquelme, and Rochemback; two of them have to go. They're trying to send Rochemback off on loan to Sporting Lisbon, and they're desperate to dump Riquelme. They are whining that Rustu should be considered a "community" player on some specious grounds--wait a minute, didn't we all believe that we should keep Turkey out of the EU just a few months ago? Now it's to the Barca's benefit for Rustu to be considered a community player, so what do they do but make another wild claim that the UEFA will laugh about for five minutes and then circular-file.

Jose Bove's sheeplike followers interrupted the Tour de France yesterday in order to protest Bove's imprisonment for vandalism. The funny thing is that Bove is identified in the news stories as a "French farmer." He's about as much a farmer as Subcomandante Marcos. Bove is a middle-class city boy with hardcore lefty-green beliefs who "went back to the land" a few years ago and started agitating. If he can be labeled as anything, it would be "professional activist".

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