Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Around the Horn

It sounds like Shysterball's 25 baseball things idea has really taken off. And now Rob Neyer, the Zen master himeself, is threatening to jump in. The Common Man looks forward to reading everyone's. If you don't have a blog, feel free to use the comments section here to post them, or if you do have a list up somewhere, feel free to leave a link (they certainly don't have to be as The Common Man's). If there isone thing that The Common Man thinks you and he can agree on (unless your name is BikeMonkey), it's that it's awfully fun to listen to why other people love the game and to compare it to our experiences. So share and enjoy.

Speaking of BikeMonkey, The Common Man feels badly that he's not down with teh baseballz. But really, The Common Man doesn't understand how anyone can not like baseball. The Dentist, The Common Man's little brother, hated baseball when he was a boy, choosing soccer instead like the rest of his friends. But with the wisdom of age, The Dentist has come to love watching the game, and follows it with nowhere near the intensity of his big bro. But it's still a big step. The Common Man doesn't know why BikeMonkey's such a stick in the mud, but most people who profess to hate the game claim that it's boring and slow. The prefer the up and down action of basketball or the explosiveness of football. Meanwhile, baseball is often a slow build, like a truly good film or song, adding tension and excitement as the game progresses until it reaches a fever pitch in the late innings. In between, it's a collection of exciting moments that are largely disconnected from one another. It takes a sophisitcation and appreciation of the finest things to appreciate baseball. A knowing patience. And because of this patience and willingness to wait for the final payoff, The Common Man likes to believe that baseball fans make the best lovers. Generous and willing to prolong the experience, baseball fans aren't interested in the quick and dirty slam-bam-thank-you-mamn (or sir), but the drawn out, tantalizing prospect of making love. All night. Isaac Hayes style. The Common Man does not say this to disparage BikeMonkey, who The Common Man knows has the ability to appreciate and love the game, but to challenge him.

Meanwhile, The Common Man feels bad not a whit for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who told reporters Monday, "I don't want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to [steroids in baseball] or he didn't care about it. That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I'm sensitive to the criticism." Bud's been awfully quick to slough off responsibility for the steroid era in the past, and to dump it on the players (who, deserve a large share of the blame, no doubt). But to eschew responsibility entirely is childish and disingenuous. No Mommy, Little Bud has no idea how the lamp got broken. He admits, "A lot of people say we should have done this or that, and I understand that. They ask me, 'How could you not know?' and I guess in the retrospect of history, that's not an unfair question" but goes on to equivocate and tout his past failed attempts to get a drug policy (starting in 1995, if Bud is to be believed). But here's the thing, those attempts were brought up in private negotiations and used as a bargaining chip. At some point, what Selig doesn't say is, he decided that wringing an extra year of player control or a slightly lower major league minimum or a bigger share of the broadcasting rights was worth trading for the testing. Mark The Common Man's words, if Bud Selig and Major League Baseball had truly wanted and was committed to institute a steroid testing policy in 1995, they could have gotten it. So for Bud Selig to say today that he's not to blame for the steroid era is, frankly, silly. There's plenty of blame to go around. The players, the owners, the union the management, the media, the fans, and the commissioner all share various amounts of it. So man up, Bud, and face the fact that you exchanged doping for dollars years ago, and are just now reaping the consequences of that choice. If you're happy to accept praise for the decision to expand the playoffs, start the MLB Network, and grow revenues, you must be willing to accept the littlest bit of responsibility for your stunning ability to look the other way.

The Common Man wants to add his congratulations to Sean Foreman, the founder and creator of for selling a minority stake in his website and business to Fantasy Sports Ventures. Baseball Reference is a tremendous resource that any serious baseball fan needs to be using, like, all the time and it will play a large role in tomorrow's post (oh, see how The Common Man teases you).

No one is more deserving of the big payday than Sean for providing such an awesome free service to the public.

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