Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

Taking Any Bets on Ohtani’s Story?

Friday, March 22nd, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

    Temporarily out of touch and easing my way back in via the sports portal, which used to be a place to escape from a world gone mad. Used to be. With a nod to Jimmy Cannon …

Shohei Ohtani and his former interpreter in happier times.

Shohei Ohtani and his former interpreter in happier times.

  • Maybe it’s just me, but: I’d love to be having a cuppa coffee with Pete Rose right now. I don’t know about you, but I’m not buying any of the stories the Los Angeles Dodgers and Shohei Ohtani‘s lawyers have offered so far regarding an IRS investigation into the Japanese star’s interpreter and gambling. The interpreter was supposedly ripping off Ohtani or, in another story, Shohei was helping the guy pay off illegal gambling debts. The keyword here for the interpreter, who has been fired by the Dodgers, is illegal. Sports betting is illegal in California. The keyword here for Ohtani is gambling. Unfortunately, all major sports have succumbed to the lure of easy money via gambling, while repeatedly urging players not to do it, because, you know, people might wonder what you’re placing a bet on. And, of course, betting on your own sport, in this case baseball, is forbidden. Ohtani’s now former interpreter has assured everyone that he never, never, ever, cross-his -heart-and-hopes-to-die bet on baseball. Because, you know, cheating. Integrity of the game. But a bookie was owed a lot of money, apparently, and Ohtani did, or didn’t try to pay him off for his interpreter, but didn’t notice a bunch of money missing from his bank account. Or something. Baseball’s investigating and no one’s talking now but the lawyers so Ohtani can try to focus on baseball. The slugger/pitcher recently signed a $700 million contract with the Dodgers. He agreed to take just $2 million a year while he played for them so they could afford to pay the rest of the team. Take the rest when he retires. Nice. If Pete and I are still around then, maybe we can all get together for a cup of coffee in Cooperstown and lay odds on who’s going to get into the Hall of Fame that year.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: I’m a little confused when Major League Baseball sends the aforementioned Dodgers and the San Diego Padres to Korea to play two official,  season-opening baseball games, then has them come back to the States to resume spring training with the rest of the teams. Couldn’t they just be exhibition games or couldn’t they just start the actual season? And while they were at it, couldn’t they just take that ghost runner off second base to start the 10th inning?
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: I’m hoping Aaron Rodgers has had enough time to decide whether he wants to try again to play football for the New York Jets this fall or run for vice president of the United States as Bobby Kennedy Jr.’s running mate. Tough choice, I know. Rodgers is known to have some political views that are as, umm, unusual as Kennedy’s and the quarterback’s ego undoubtedly found the mention by the third-party presidential candidate flattering, but instead of playing second fiddle to a conspiracy theory fanatic, he’s likely to find more acceptance in New York playing quarterback for a team that desperately needs one. At least he has a wealth of experience at that job. And of course, there’s the fact that he had to be helped off the field after his first series of downs for the team last year never to take another snap. Unfinished business. Stick with what you know, Mr. Rodgers, and they’ll cheer you in the Meadowlands.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: On the positive side, it was nice to see the Robert Kennedy family gather for a reunion (without Bobby Junior) at the Washington, D.C.  home of family friend, Joe Biden. Warmth and support all around the White House. I think the family patriarch would have understood and appreciated. Bobby Kennedy understood the importance of freedom and democracy and I’m pretty sure would’ve recognized President Biden as the best bet this year to maintain and continue to fight for both. In fact, I’d take that bet to the bank.

Taylor Swift, Shohei, Nikki and Colorado

Friday, December 29th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Taylor Swift Time’s Person of the Year

Taylor Swift … Time’s Person of the Year
RJ Photography

   What with holidays and football (who’s the surprise NFL quarterback of this week?) and war (pick one) occupying so much of our attention recently, it’s been hard to keep up with the rest of the news of the day like, well, (1.) Taylor Swift being chosen as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, an honor that meant so much more when people actually read magazines such as Time, but is still significant, given the fact that she is a performer, a young person (33) and apparently has a sense of moral obligation to do good and spread the wealth she earned on the way to becoming a billionaire and bringing millions of dollars as well as entertainment to communities that lobbied to host one of her concerts, prompting Time to call her “a source of light” in a year filled with “shades of darkness,” which might be used to describe (2.) Deion Sanders’ impact on the moribund football program at Colorado University, as the indefatigable Coach Neon, to the surprise of many, brought not only talent and wins and TV exposure and recruits, but money and happiness and respect to Colorado, earning him the Sports Illustrated award as Sportsperson of the Year (see above on magazines), even though reality and other, better, football teams eventually brought the Buffaloes back down to Earth, leaving room in the nethersphere for Los Angeles Dodgers fans as their team, perennial favorites to win the World Series only to disappoint, (3.) spent $700 million to sign one player, Shohei Ohtani, to a 10-year contract, even though the MVP and only fulltime pitcher/DH in Major League Baseball can’t pitch next year because he needs arm surgery, which probably prompted the Dodgers to then (4.) sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a highly sought after pitcher (like Ohtani, from Japan) for 12 years and another $325 million, which comes to more than a billion dollars for two players, which is a lot of money even if most of Ohtani’s payments are deferred until he retires and exceeds the payroll of several other major league teams and is likely to (5.) increase the price of tickets and $12 ballpark hot dogs in L.A., none of which will apparently matter to fans if the Dodgers win it all, win at any cost, which is (6.) pretty much the motto of today’s Republican Party, evidenced in big and small ways, such as (7.) Nikki Haley, challenging Donald Trump for the GOP nomination to run for president, conveniently forgetting to mention slavery as a cause of the Civil War, lest all her South Carolina and other potential Southern supporters get offended, or Trump’s ongoing efforts to (8.) avoid conviction on 91 felony charges, from New York to Washington, D.C., to Georgia to Florida, as he continues (9.) to lie about losing the 2020 election, insult and threaten prosecutors, judges and private citizens, inflame his racist base with increasingly ugly fascist rhetoric and, in the current fashion of Republican “leaders,” whine and whine and whine about being a victim and then talk about being a dictator and getting retribution if he is elected president again, which (10.) officials in the states of Colorado and Maine ruled could not happen because Trump violated his oath of office and the 14th  Amendment to the Constitution by supporting an insurrection (the one we saw on TV) and so he is ineligible to run in those states’ presidential primaries, however (11.) officials in California and Michigan ruled the opposite way, meaning the question will (12.) inevitably be decided by the Supreme Court, which is now a 6-3 conservative majority, thanks to Trump appointments when he was president, but which might not do him any good anyway if the justices, enjoying lifetime appointments, realize that (13.) a second Trump presidency, with a president ruled immune from responsibility for his actions and promising to get rid of non-loyalists, would no longer make the justices an equal branch of government and, thus, at risk of removal at whim, which is Trump’s style of governing, (14.) or they can hope like heck that he gets convicted and locked up first, thus preserving our democracy without them having to take a stand.

      Can’t wait ‘til 2024.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

If the (Granderson) shirt fits, wear it

Friday, November 17th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

The Granderson shirt.

The Granderson shirt.

    I wore the Granderson shirt the other day. For the second time. The first time I wore it was more than six years ago. Donald Trump had just moved into the White House, I was recovering from a serious automobile accident and they hadn’t started playing baseball for real yet. Yeah, fun times.

     Still, the good news was that I had lost a significant amount of weight thanks to a more healthful diet and a bit of exercise, gotten into better shape and, noticing the Granderson shirt at the bottom of the shirt drawer, I decided to try it on. Again.

     I say again because the shirt had been given to me a few years earlier as a gift for either my birthday or Christmas by my son, Zack. He had inherited my rooting interest in the New York Yankees and at one time my favorite player on the team was Curtis Granderson. So Zack gave me the Granderson shirt, which was very thoughtful and appropriate. But it didn’t fit because I was inappropriately overweight.

     But, voilà, at this somewhat depressing time six years ago, I decided to try the shirt on again and it fit. Sort of. Let’s say I could wear it without being embarrassed. It also provided me an opportunity to write a little about sports, something an old sports editor can’t resist. And, as I’ve shared before, I often look to sports to start the day with some good news.

It fits.

It fits.

      Well, the really good news is that when I found the Granderson shirt still at the bottom of the shirt drawer the other day and put it on, it fit perfectly. Clean living had finally paid off.

    So this old Yankee fan wore the Granderson shirt. The Yankee one, number 14. I specify Yankee because, as New York sports fans know, Granderson also played for the Mets. And, to get to the actual news in all this, the former outfielder for both New York teams was recently inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame, which I didn’t even know existed.

    I came upon this bit of information, not surprisingly, via Facebook. A meme posting from the organization informed me that Granderson and Darryl Strawberry, who also played for both the Yankees and Mets, were among 16 recent inductees into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.

     At a time when Trump still dominates headlines and TV airtime because of the 91 felony indictments among other things, I thought it was nice synchronicity for sports  to show up again to remind us of something positive.

       The New York State Baseball Hall of Fame has been in existence since 2011, but opened its new museum just this past July, in Gloversville, which is a 45-minute drive from the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, thereby putting upstate New York on the map for traveling baseball fans.

       Granderson and Strawberry, two hard-hitting outfielders, all-stars and fan favorites were naturals for induction to this New York-focused hall. As a major leaguer, Granderson was respected, not only for his baseball talent, but for his contributions to the community at large. He was an intelligent and articulate spokesperson for the sport and for sportsmanship in general and worked with inner-city kids. He was also a streaky home run hitter and could strike out a lot. He’d fit right in today if he were playing.

    Strawberry was also a power hitter, known for booming home runs, but his most powerful story today is of his recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse, a story he freely shares with those who need to hear a message of hope. He and his wife have set up a foundation which helps pay for treatment for addicts.

      So these two recently joined the ranks of other New Yorkers or those with strong New York connections who have contributed over the years to the sport of baseball — professionals and amateurs, players and coaches, executives and writers and announcers as well as the 22 New York-born major leaguers who are also enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame just down the road.

      A quick check of other inductees into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame produces the name of Joe Nathan (induction class of 2018), who was a standout pitcher for the Minnesota Twins and Pine Bush High School, where my son, Zack, and his brother, Max, both graduated.

        Synchronicity. Nice to have another shirt to wear. Thanks again, Zack.

rjgaydos@gmail.com


       

Shohei, 45 and Prigozhin: Pick One

Sunday, August 27th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

P.T. Barnum, like Trup, knew how to make a shady buck.

P.T. Barnum, like Trump, knew how to make a shady buck.

    Occasionally, the Universe conspires to make life a bit more challenging for those who cover the news of the day, as in the previous week when three major stories competed for front page attention, (1.) the much-anticipated assassination in Russia of Yevgeny Prigozhin, (2.) the eagerly awaited arrest and first-ever mugshot taking of a former American president, in Atlanta, and (3.) the totally unexpected report from Los Angeles that the best player in baseball, Shohei Ohtani, the only successful pitcher/hitter since Babe Ruth, had suffered a serious injury to the elbow of his pitching arm and will (4.) require Tommy John surgery (named after the first pitcher to have it done*) or full arm rest to repair his elbow, meaning he will not pitch again this year, or ever again, and will likely (5.) see his asking price for a new contract when he is a free agent at the end of the year fall by a few hundred million dollars (that is correct for non-sports fans), and maybe even worse, put an end to his brief but marvelous career as simultaneously one of the game’s great pitchers and hitters, limiting him to merely hitting home runs every day, which, of course, is still a far better fate than that of Prigozhin, who (6.) incredibly was still hanging around Russia two months after abruptly stopping his coup attempt against Vladimir Putin about 150 miles from Moscow, (7.) foolishly trusting Putin’s promise to let him go live peaceably in Belarus and (8.) inexplicably packing his private plane with other leaders of his Wagner paramilitary force, making it easier for an “unexplained” explosion to wipe them all out in one fell swoop, (9.) demonstrating that Putin is not limited to using falls from high windows or poison to eliminate those he perceives as enemies, (10.) a scary reputation that the aforementioned arrested  former president, Donald Trump, would undoubtedly  enjoy having, rather than that of a (11.) lying traitor who led a conspiracy and fomented

The mug shot.

The mug shot.

violence to try to overturn a legitimate election he had lost, (12.) illegally concealed classified government documents, (13.) used campaign funds to pay hush money to cover up an affair he had with a porn star while his wife was tending to their young child, (14.) raped a woman in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman and slandered her even after he was found guilty, (15.) defrauded New York State of millions in taxes, and (16) continues to threaten and insult judges, prosecutors and (rare) political opponents who dare to speak the truth about him and to support the rule of law, all to (17.) rile up his supporters and to ostensibly raise money for his presidential campaign, but which will probably go to (18.) pay his monumental legal expenses so that he can find lawyers willing to represent him, which is not easy given his cheapskate reputation, none of which seems to bother his legion of loyal followers, who (19.) continue to ignore reality and send him money every time he plays the “victim” of the system routine, proving that (20.) P.T. Barnum was right when he (allegedly) said, “There’s a sucker (or a few million) born every minute,” which includes anyone who believes that the flabby Trump is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs a mere 215 pounds, as an aide entered in the record for him when he was booked in Atlanta, (21) in a circus scene lacking only Barnum’s famous sign, “This way to the egress,” * (22.), to which I say, soon, please, Universe.

      Shohei wins.

(* Tommy John was a good left-handed pitcher, who won 288 games in 26 seasons, including two 20-win seasons for the New York Yankees.)

(*When you went though the door to get to the  “egress,” you had to pay to get back in to the sideshow. Trump would’ve loved Barnum.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Goodbye, Tony; Hello Again, Baseball

Thursday, July 27th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack …”

“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack …”                 RJ Photography

   I think I’m making this a thing. In a world of TikTok, Twitter (no bird!?), streaming and binge-watching, the world we live in is more and more like a stream of consciousness experience.

    So, let me report on the past week in which two events affected me in a personal way, the first being (1.) the death, at 96, of the legendary Tony Bennett who seemed determined to go on forever, singing standards despite Alzheimer’s and being decades older than his collaborators and 70 years removed from his first big hit, “Because of You,” which I sang as an 11-year-old in front of Mrs. Godlis’(?) 6th grade class in P.S. #3 in Bayonne, N.J., for reasons I can’t remember but a memory which still fills me with warm feelings, as does the memory of an old friend, the late, great musician, Hal Gaylor, of Greenwood Lake, who backed Bennett up on bass on many recordings and, like Bennett, was also a wonderful artist, the kind of person you wish could just go on forever, unlike the (2.) Gilgo Beach serial killer suspect, charged with the murder of three young women and suspected in many more on Long Island between 1996 and 2011 and who, it turns out, police in Suffolk County had a solid description of (as well as his truck) within days of the discovery of the bodies 13 years ago but (3.) were too busy covering up an assault by their police chief to bother doing anything about it, which is kind of like (4.) what Chief Justice John Roberts did when asked to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the lack of any code of ethics among the ethically challenged justices, a decision which (5.) prompted the Senate committee to propose Legislation to set ethics rules for the court and a process to enforce them, including new standards for transparency around recusals, gifts and potential conflicts of interest, which (6.) all the Republicans on the committee voted against because the party is too busy (7.) in the House of Representatives trying to manufacture an impeachment of President Joe Biden somehow connected to his son Hunter, who (8.) agreed to plead guilty to tax evasion charges and unlawful possession of a weapon, with no jail time, which (9). a judge questioned and delayed and Republicans said was a sweetheart deal because of his dad being president, which (10.) is pretty much what the Education Department says it’s looking into regarding Harvard’s legacy admissions policy wherein top colleges give preferential acceptance treatment to children of alumni, who are often white (and sometimes rich), a practice which has been under fire since (11.) the Supreme Court last month struck down the use of affirmative action as a tool to boost the presence of students of color, which was in stark contrast to (12.) the same court’s recent ruling that Alabama had to redraw its district voting lines to more fairly represent black voters in the state, an example of reasonable thinking which stands in contrast (13.) to BiBi Netenyahu’s increasingly autocratic Israeli government, which voted to remove the “reasonableness” of an action as something for Israel’s Supreme Court to consider, a vote which (14.) has led to massive anti-government demonstrations and (15.) strained the relationship between Israel and the U.S., which has historically been strong, much like that of American men and baseball, a bond which (16.) drew four relatively new friends (me being one of them) to a minor league baseball game on a Thursday night in Dutchess County, N.Y., to see the Brooklyn Cyclones (a Mets farm team) meet the Hudson Valley Renegades (a Yankees affiliate) on a comfortable summer night billed as Halloween in July at the ballpark, where hot dogs and caps came with the price of admission, peanuts and Cracker Jack were also consumed and the home team lost because of one horrendous inning by the starting pitcher, several bad base-running decisions by other Renegades, a couple of questionable umpiring calls and a leaping catch at the wall with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning by the Cyclones’ right fielder to take a game-tying home run away from Spencer Jones, the Renegades player everyone says is the next Aaron Judge, who (17.) reported to Tampa, to practice swinging again with the toe he injured a while back breaking down a wall in right field in Los Angeles while taking a home run away from the Dodgers, who used to play in Brooklyn where the world-famous roller coaster called the Cyclone is located and (18.) who says there’s no symmetry in this world?

(PS: Cracker Jack boxes are now smaller, but come in a pack of three ($4) and the “prize” is a code to some online game. I preferred the whistle.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com

     

An Interesting, Imperfect Week

Friday, June 30th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Yankees Pitcher Domingo German pitched a perfect game.

Yankees Pitcher Domingo German pitched a perfect game.

   When one’s primary focus is offering commentary on the most significant news of the day and it’s a day (or week) in which Donald Trump has not been indicted, arrested, convicted or imprisoned, well, one has to look around at the rest of the world and choose what’s important. Kind of stream of consciousness reporting.

      For example, (1) in a week in which the leader of a ruthless mercenary military group in Russia apparently decided to call off a coup attempt aimed at Vladimir Putin in midstream and (2) reports say some Russian generals may have known about the plan and Putin may be about to purge them, how significant was it that the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court (3) blew up affirmative action and (4) Joe Biden’s college loan forgiveness plan, (5) said (despite a Colorado state law barring discrimination) that a wedding website designer could refuse to design a website because the would-be clients are gay, all the while (6) holding fast to the argument that the top court in the U.S. should not be bound to conflict of interest rules like every other court in the land, apparently suggesting that Supreme Court justices should (7) be able to take lavish vacations paid for by clients who have cases before the court, (8) that the fact that a justice’s spouse actively encouraged a coup attempt aimed at the U.S. government didn’t matter and (9) that another’s spouse got millions in business from another frequent visitor to the court did not matter either because, well, apparently because the High Nine are morally perfect individuals, which is not necessarily the case with (9) Domingo German, a pitcher for the New York Yankees, who pitched a perfect game against the Oakland A’s and, despite the fact it was only the 24th perfect game in Major League Baseball ever, was criticized by some because he had been (10) suspended by MLB a couple of years ago for spousal abuse, even though one must presume (or at least hope)  he had made significant enough changes in his life by now to merit reinstatement, while others suggested the accomplishment wasn’t much because (11) Oakland is one of the worst teams in baseball at the moment, an argument which ignores the fact that these are all major league players, the best ball players in the country, making a guaranteed minimum salary of $720,000 a year, and, all the while, much of the country (including New York State, where I live) witnessed all of this (12) through a choking haze of smoke courtesy of thousands of wildfires still burning in Canada, undoubtedly aggravated by (13) global warming, which almost no one is talking much about lately, certainly not (14) Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former lawyer, who we learned sat down voluntarily for a chat with Special Counsel Jack Smith in connection with (15) investigations into the Jan. 6 insurrection and efforts by Trump to steal the 2020 election, leading to speculation that Giuliani, disbarred and disgraced, might be (16) looking for a plea deal to avoid a long prison term in exchange for information leading to (17) the indictment, arrest, conviction and imprisonment of the aforesaid Donald Trump.

     I knew I’d get there.

                 ***

PS: The Yankees have had four perfect games thrown by their pitchers, more than any other team. I watched on TV as Don Larsen threw his against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and 43 years later listened on radio as David Cone achieved perfection. People tend to forget that, not only the pitcher, but the whole team has to be perfect to accomplish this. Have a nice week.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Judge Needs 61 in 154 Games, or Less

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

(With a nod of respect and appreciation for the late, great Jimmy Cannon.)

Maybe it’s just me, but:

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

— If Aaron Judge hits his 61st home run within the Yankees’ first 154 games, he is the undisputed, no asterisk necessary, single-season home run king of the American League. That makes him, to me at least, the record holder for all of baseball, because all those who hit more (National Leaguers Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire) did so while using steroids to enhance their performance. That’s cheating. Baseball says it doesn’t approve of cheating.

As for that asterisk, baseball used to put one next to Roger Maris’ name as home run king because he hit 61 in an expanded 162-game season in 1961. In the Yankees’ last game, in fact. That meant Babe Ruth’s magic 60 number (hit in a 154-game season) still stood. That asterisk now only exists in the minds of some older baseball fans. That’s why I say Judge can erase any doubts by getting to 61 or 62 in 154 games. But if he tops Maris in 162 games, he’ll still be the all-time single-season home run champ in my book … unless they catch him using steroids or some other performance enhancer. This may sound naive to some, but I don’t see how someone who cheats, however talented he or she may be, should be credited with any kind of athletic performance record. Otherwise, what’s the point of keeping records?

— Maybe it’s just me, but: The judge granting Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review the thousands of federal documents the FBI removed from his Mar-a-Lago home is no big victory for the ex-president. It’s a sign the judge is being careful in this precedent-setting case. Any claims by Republicans beyond that is just more smoke. It may slow the investigation down a bit, which is what Trump always tries to do, but don’t you think the FBI is already well aware of what’s in those documents they’ve been scouring for days? Bottom line: No legitimate reason for Trump to have them.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Mikhail Gorbachev’s death, or rather, how it was received by many Russians, has a lesson for Americans who think Trump and the MAGAs are no big deal here. Many Russians criticized, even hated, the author of glasnost (an open government policy) because they felt the end of the Soviet Union represented a huge loss of Russian standing as a world power, rather than a victory for freedom and equal rights for all citizens of the union. They preferred the projection of world power to the right to live as they chose, rather than as how the Communist Party dictated. Russian President Vladimir Putin, a product of the Soviet regime, has worked tirelessly at recreating that dynamic. He snubbed Gorbachev’s funeral. The former Russian president did not even get a state funeral. Only one foreign dignitary attended (from Hungary), because of Putin’s invasion and continuing war in Ukraine. Authoritarians and their followers, once they have a taste of power, do not give it up easily. That’s why the Jan. 6 congressional hearings and the FBI probe into Trump’s stash of secret and classified government documents at his home are important. It’s also why voting for any political candidate who doesn’t agree with that statement is a vote against glasnost.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Serena Williams deserves all the accolades she received on her retirement from tennis. A true champion in every way.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Soto, Trump, Ego, Greed: America

Monday, July 25th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

Report: Washington Nationals Will Entertain Trade of Outfielder ...

For Juan Soto, is the sky the limit?

   Greed. Power. Ego.

    The fuel for the engine of America today. Some might say, with justification, thus has it always been. Perhaps. But in the here and now of 2022, it seems to be more prevalent, more inescapable, more baffling and depressing.

      I offer two recent examples, one a major sports story, the other a story for the history books.

— Juan Soto, a 23-year-old outfielder for the Washington Nationals, turned down a contract extension offer from the team of $440 million for 15 years. Now, that is enough money to guarantee that, even with a minimum of financial prudence, young Soto’s future children, grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, etc. will have a comfortable start in life. “That’s generational money,” as a friend of mine put it.

       So why did Soto reject the offer? Well, obviously he thinks he’s worth more. He’s already won a batting championship, after all. He’s a home run-hitting machine. Fans love him.

       Still, $430 million is not chump change. Even over 15 years. It’s more than any other ballplayer has ever been offered. But it’s a little less than $30 million a year and there are reports that this fact irks the young superstar. For those who don’t follow the inflated world of baseball salaries, there are  superstars on other teams with contracts that do not total as much as the one offered to Soto, but whose average annual salary is more than $30 million.

      What an insult! The nerve of the owners of the Nationals. Don’t they recognize his worth? Let’s see what other teams will offer.

       Ego. Greed. Power. 

       Apparently the Nationals’ owners know that Soto, who has two years left on his current contract, is worth a ton of money to put fans in the seats, but they also know they have to pay other people they employ as well. Fans always want teams to pay their favorite stars what they want. Owners always want to, you know, make a profit and win games without giving away the store. After all, if $430 million isn’t enough for today’s superstar, maybe a half billion won’t be enough for the next hot shot.

     And really, when is enough enough? I don’t begrudge special recognition for special talent in any field, including sports, but it’s not as if the Nationals went cheap on Soto. He’s doing what he loves to do and is being rewarded handsomely for doing it well. In many societies, this would be a reason for some humility. Gratitude even. 

      I know. I’m out of touch. Greed. Power. Ego.

     — The other example has been in our faces for months. The Jan. 6 congressional hearings have demonstrated beyond any doubt that there was an attempted coup, by force and other extralegal means, planned and promoted by Donald Trump and his cadre of fascist Republicans. Greed, power and ego at their worst.

       Ignore high gasoline prices. The fact that millions are still OK with what Trump et al attempted and that other millions agree with Soto’s line of thinking are proof that greed, power and ego are what really keep the engine of America running today. We need to find a new formula, and soon.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Take America Out to the Ball Game

Friday, July 1st, 2022
Playing ball at Dutchess Stadium. RJ Photography RJ Photography

Playing ball at Dutchess Stadium.
RJ Photography

By Bob Gaydos

It was ‘90s Prom Night. All the music was from the ‘90s. There were teenaged girls in lovely prom dresses. Their dates wore matching tuxes. There was a race against a video opponent. Sing the next line of the song. Show us your best ‘90s dance moves. Yes, musical chairs! Crown a prom king and queen. A rousing chorus of “God Bless America.” A six-year-old boy wearing a DiMaggio #5 jersey. A 66-year-old wearing a Maris #9. Another rousing chorus of “Take Me Out to ….” … Yes. The ball game.

     But not just any ballgame. A Hudson Renegades/Brooklyn Cyclones ballgame. Class A minor league baseball at its best. The future Yankees (the Renegades) hosted the future Mets at a splendid ballpark in Dutchess County, not far from the Hudson River and a one-hour commuter train ride from the big ballpark in the Bronx.

    What better way to spend a perfect summer night than with America’s traditional pastime when much of the rest of the country was participating in America’s new pastime — bickering over how serious it was that a defeated president threw his lunch against the wall because his coup attempt was not going well. A couple of thousand locals thought the same.

     The only hint of possible friction at the ballpark came when the public address announcer reported that the Houston Astros had defeated the Mets that afternoon. The hometown Renegades/Yankees fans cheered loudly. All in fun.

      Americans, I think, are desperate to have fun again. Real fun, relaxed fun, not frenetic demonstrations of rebellion against a Covid mask mandate or some other hyped display of look-at-me bravado.

     A hot-dog-at-a-ballgame kind of fun.

     Without trying to sound corny, a night out with friends at Dutchess Stadium really was a perfect antidote for what ailed me — Trumper tantrums, MAGA mania and a Supreme Court run amok. I had had the unsettling talk with myself earlier that went something like, “I’ve been promoting a pro-choice, gun control, equal rights, save-the-planet agenda in my writing for decades and yet, here we are. I need a ballgame.”

       I was right.

      The whole country needs a ball game, especially one between young men in their early 20s chasing a dream – to someday become a Yankee or a Met. I’d venture to say that, to most in the crowd, the outcome of the game didn’t matter nearly as much as simply being there.

        Even when the Renegades pitcher walked the first Cyclone batter, hit the next one with a pitch and gave up a home run on his first pitch to the third batter, everyone seemed to be pretty relaxed, having a good time, except maybe the Renegades pitcher.

       But never fear, there was still a lot of baseball to be played. And hotdogs and burgers and peanuts and popcorn and french fries and even tacos to be eaten. Local sponsors got promoted on the big screen. Birthdays were announced. Bases were stolen and home runs were hit. Three in all. 

        In the end, the Renegades won, 8 to 5.  In honor of the evening’s theme, there was dancing on the field after the game to ‘90s music under flashing colored lights. Dancing on the field!

         To top it off, since the Renegades are now an uptown team, they play the Yankees’ traditional send-the-fans-home-happy song — Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York.” We all knew the words.

          Start spreading the news. The MAGAs will still be there. I’ll make a brand new start of it … Tomorrow.

         Boy, did I make the right call about needing a ball game.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.     

       

 

Baseball’s less than perfect week

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

The world in 500 words or less

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe it’s just me, but:

Apr 12, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken

Alyssa Nakken

— Major League Baseball had a red letter day recently when Alyssa Nakken became the first female coach on the field, for the San Francisco Giants. Well-played.

— On the other hand, there was yet another sign that the people running the game have lost all sense of what once made baseball America’s pastime. With Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw six outs away from pitching a perfect game and having thrown all of 80 pitches, LA manager Dave Roberts pulled Kershaw from the game. Kershaw later said he was OK with the move. I doubt it. Imagine yanking Gibson or Ryan or Spahn or Seaver or Koufax or even David Cone, for Pete’s sake, in that situation. Baseball used to be a game of historic efforts and legends. Kershaw had a shot at history and deserved the opportunity. Moneyball isn’t necessarily baseball.

— Part two of what used to be baseball. Say that Kershaw stayed in the game and pitched two more perfect innings, but the score was tied at zero after nine innings. Kershaw gets to keep trying to be perfect and goes out to pitch the 10th inning. There’s a runner on second base. Kershaw didn’t put him there; baseball did. Is it still a perfect game? What if someone actually sacrifice bunts the runner over to third and the next better hits a long sacrifice fly that allows the runner to score? Do you yank Kershaw now because he’s actually losing a perfect game? Or maybe he’s on the road and just lost a perfect game. I guess with pitch counts we’ll never know.

— Confirmation of the eminently qualified Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court was a red-letter day for America. Less celebratory is the fact that 47 Republican senators had to tie themselves in knots trying to come up with reasons to vote against her that did not include “she’s a woman and she’s black.” Another shameful moment for the former party of Lincoln.

— The only nasty thing Attorney General Merrick Garland has caught recently is COVID-19.

— In another effort to bolster his base by lowering the average IQ score of Republicans in the House of Representatives, Donald Trump endorsed Sarah Palin for Alaska’s lone congressional seat. Well, for what it’s worth, she can spy on Russia from where she lives.

— The Taliban forbidding females to get schooled beyond grade six didn’t surprise me. But banning the growing of poppies, Afghanistan’s traditional crop? What the heck do they do for cash?

— Didn’t see this coming: There’s apparently a fertilizer shortage created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. should be OK as long as Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz still get to give speeches in the Senate.

— I just don’t trust Elon Musk on buying Twitter. Buy Texas. It needs fixing a lot more.

rjgaydos@gmail.com