sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Interesting article in the N.Y. Times sports section on baseball players snapping under the stress of the pennant race.

The article discusses two separate incidents, both involving California teams. After being removed for a pinch runner in a game last week, Angels outfielder Jose Guillen pitched a fit in the dugout, throwing his helmet in the direction of manager Mike Sciosia. The Angels, to their credit, wasted no time kicking Guillen off the team, and it's probably no coincidence the Angels have surged ahead of Oakland heading into the last week of the season.

Like Guillen, the Dodgers' Milton Bradley is a well-known head case. The Dodgers took some heat for picking him up this year, but he settled down and is cited as a major factor for the team being the verge of its first Western division title since 1995.

But his case is somewhat different: a fan threw a bottle at him after he committed a two-run error against the Rockies Tuesday night. Bradley went after the guy, and was suspended by Major League Baseball as the Dodgers head into the season finale with the Giants.

So let me get this straight: Bradley's team is fighting for the pennant, and that idiot in the stands has the gall to throw a bottle at the guy? The fan gets what he deserves, if you ask me. 

Just like the idiot in the stands at Oakland, who says he bought seats behind the bullpen just so he could jaw with the opposing bullpen. He got his money's worth: his wife got a chair in the nose, courtesy of a Rangers' pitcher.

I don't disagree that, for the money they make, athletes should have thicker skins. But sports fans never fail to amaze me, either. It's like the Cubs-Reds game I watched on TV yesterday (while working, of course). Here the Cubs are, fighting for playoff spot, holding on to a one-run lead with one strike to go. Cubs closer LaTroy Hawkins gives up a triple, then Austin Kearns singles home the tying run. After getting the third out, Hawkins is booed as he walks off the field.

The Reds go ahead by two in 12th, and, trust me, that's not a safe lead with their pitching this year. As the Cubs bat in the bottom of the 12th, I noticed a lot of fans had already left Wrigley Field. The Cubs rallied for a run after the Reds committed an error, but a double play helped secure the victory.

I've always said I quit pulling for Carolina because I couldn't stand the fans any more. In my opinion, many of them weren't true basketball fans because if the Tar Heels weren't playing, then they could care less about college basketball. I kind of feel the same way about the Cubs now. I was pulling for them to take the bogus wild card spot and perhaps make a run during the playoffs, setting up the elusive Cubs-Red Sox World Series. But if their fans can't treat them any better than this, then they might as well miss out.


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