But let’s not waste any more time on sordid subjects like Chris Christie’s office, which inconvenienced and endangered thousands trying to get across the bridge.
Let’s talk about something wholesome, like Alex Rodriguez.
We can only hope that A-Rod will stick to his promise – he is a man of his word – and take that sabbatical for the next year, like a college prof, catching up on his reading.
The funniest thing I heard in recent weeks was that A-Rod was planning to take spring training with the Yankees and play in the exhibitions. I checked, and according to the labor agreement players under suspension are entitled to take part in spring training.
Since it is quite likely the Yankee organization has been dropping dimes (old police phrase for informing) on A-Rod for a long time, it would have been delightful to see him emerge in Tampa, like a Ghost of Creatines Past. Put me in, Coach.
The second funniest thing about A-Rod was his including the Players Association in his little law suit. This nervy move was an insult to the contemporary association, which was re-directed by the late Michael Weiner. After the previous Donald Fehr regime had stonewalled the concept of testing and penalizing – widely accepted throughout world sport by that time – the Players Association took rational steps to acknowledge the conniving by a swath of its membership.
Weiner’s death from brain cancer last November was a double blow -- the loss of a nice human being as well as a visionary leader. Then A-Rod went and filed a suit on his own association. What a guy.
My friend Bill Rhoden has a provocative column in Saturday’s New York Times. Bill has a point that Major League Baseball deserves some of the blame for overlooking drug usage in the past generation. I particularly love the part of his column in which an Episcopal priest explains the psyche of A-Rod, comparing him to Michael Jackson.
It reminds me of the explanation of Rodriguez in a column I wrote last year.
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Another baseball thought: A bunch of baseball writer-types were discussing the new instant-replay rule the other day. Most of us regret the swerve by baseball, turning the challenge into a piece of strategy, as outlined by Tony LaRussa in Tyler Kepner’s as-always thoughtful column.
The new gimmick allows a manager one challenge per game. But what if a couple of umpires suspect they got it wrong, and the manager chooses not to challenge? Isn’t the point of instant replay to get things right?
The shepherding of that challenge could touch off a dozen stalling tactics in a game, as the manager awaits a call from his techie, down in the bunkers. Longer games. Just what we need. More time for baseball to bombard us with witless noise.
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Finally, it was instructive to watch the Sosas and McGwires and Palmeiros sink in the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame. If the voting writers are indeed the Everyman of the American psyche, the Enhanced Generation is not going to be well represented in Cooperstown in generations to come. I thought there might be some recognition of the great original talent of Bonds and Clemens, but that may never happen. Creeps are creeps.
Another interesting development from the recent Hall of Fame voting was Dan Le Batard, the preening television personality, turning over his vote to a web site. He said he was trying to prove a point, which remains obscure.
The interesting part is that a great newspaper like The New York Times does not allow its writers to vote for any award, sport or otherwise, because it does not want them to become the story, yet another agency can send out a popinjay who will waste a vote as a prank.
Le Batard is banished from the Baseball Writers for a year. He’s from South Florida. Perhaps he can spend his time covering A-Rod.
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(But, look, if you are really into the Christie scandal, check out the latest great work by Steve Kornacki on msnbc.com on Saturday morning. And also check out the real-estate angle to the bridge scandal, from Laura Vecsey. She is the only journalist in the world to have covered Alex Rodriguez as a slender shortstop before turning attention to Gov. Christie.)
Welcome to World Cup 2022, the most absurd thing that the routinely absurd world of sports has ever produced.
Those extreme descriptions were what virtually the entire world, save for those who had walked off with bags of cash from Qatar, called the awarding of soccer’s greatest event to the incredibly tiny, incredibly wealthy country back in 2010.
Twelve years ago, many were convinced this event couldn’t possibly happen: staging the world’s biggest sporting event in a country the size of Connecticut, one with zero soccer culture and even less soccer infrastructure? The tournament couldn’t possibly take place in 120-degree heat, and FIFA, the governing body of soccer, most certainly wouldn’t upend football leagues around the world to change the traditional summer schedule, could it?
And, for God’s sake, what about the beer?
Those were just the logistical concerns. The moral concerns are far more distressing. FIFA, so busy paying lip service to equality, couldn’t possibly expect the world to embrace a country where you could go to prison for being gay, where women’s rights are severely curtailed and female victims of sexual assault could go to prison, charged with engaging in extramarital sex. And all those questions came before the global realization that the World Cup was being built on the backs of migrant labor: modern-day slaves held in Qatar with virtually no rights, low wages and no ability to leave. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s stated population of 3 million. The country’s native-born equal about 300,000, or roughly the size of Anaheim.
---Ann Killion, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.