Baseball’s worst moments
Required additional tickets to the Home Run Derby, Futures Game, Celebrity Game and FanFest that must be purchased in order to buy All Star Game tickets: $520
Annual credit card interest on those amounts at 19.8 percent: $241
Loan sharks are different from credit card companies in one respect. When they charge you an obscene interest rate, they don’t hire advertising firms to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about the process. They just cut off your thumbs if you miss a payment. That approach may lack creativity, but it is effective.
I will acknowledge, however, that MasterCard’s “priceless” campaign is damn entertaining. I would never let a bank gouge me with its staggering credit card interest rates but I love watching those commercials.
I especially like the recent Memorable Moments promotion, where the company asks fans to vote for baseball’s greatest moment. Lou Gehrig’s farewell: selfless. Gibson’s game winner: painless. Ripken’s streak: endless. Bobby Thomson’s winning homer: breathless. Willie Mays’ World Series catch: flawless. Aaron’s 715th homer: peerless . Say what you will about the legitimacy of the list (and my colleague, Rob Neyer, does), that’s damn good copy.
My problem with MasterCard’s 30 greatest moments is that it neglects the corollary 30 worst moments in baseball history. What was baseball’s worst moment? Here are the nominations.
1883: Cap Anson refuses to play against blacks. If he were still alive, he’d probably refuse to be in Cooperstown because it isn’t segregated.
1912: Ty Cobb assaults a one handed heckler. Cobb went into the stands, punched him in the head, knocked him down and kicked him repeatedly. When someone shouted, “Don’t kick him! He has no hands!”, Cobb allegedly replied, “I don’t care if he has no feet!”
And people think Barry Bonds is surly?
1917: Babe Ruth slugs umpire. Angry about a couple calls to the first batter, he walked off the mound and punched umpire Brick Owens. If a player did that today, the FCC would have to issue 1,000 more licenses to satisfy the demand from outraged radio talk show hosts.
1919: White Sox throw the World Series. Really, when you play in Chicago,
you shouldn’t waste your chances in October.
1922: The Supreme Court rules that baseball is not a business. Where would anyone get that idea, anyway?
1934: Detroit fans shower St. Louis’ Ducky Medwick with garbage during Game 7 of World Series. Their biggest sin? They threw bottles that weren’t officially licensed.
1942: Commissioner Kenesaw Landis announces there is no color line. Five full years before Jackie Robinson made his debut, Landis announced: “There is no rule, formal or informal, or any understanding unwritten, subterranean, or sub anything against the hiring of Negro players by the teams of organized baseball.” And just in case you missed his point, he also declared, “Negroes are not barred from organized baseball . and never have been in the 21 years I have served.”
And people think Bud tells some whoppers?
1953: Braves leave Boston. And the U Hauls began gassing up throughout the rest of the league.
1965: Juan Marichal uses John Roseboro’s head for batting practice. Baseball fined him $1,750 and suspended him eight games. If he did the same thing today, baseball would have him tried by a military tribunal, stripped naked, buried up to his neck in the desert and forced to repeatedly watch “The Bad News Bears Go to Japan.”
1966: Astroturf debuts. And Jay Buhner’s knees begin aching.
1970: Bud Selig hijacks Pilots. After one season, baseball astutely realized it couldn’t make it in Seattle.
1972: Players strike. See also 1981, 1985 and 1994 but please, oh, please, not 2002.
1972: The American League introduces the designated hitter. And somewhere, Steve Balboni smiled.
1973: George Steinbrenner buys Yankees. “I won’t be active in the day to day operations of the club at all,” he said that day. No, he was too busy concentrating on the hour to hour and minute to minute operations.
1973: Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson swap wives, kids and dogs. The worst part of it? Peterson also demanded two draft picks.
1975: Cleveland wears all red uniforms. We’re still undergoing psychotherapy due to seeing Boog Powell test the limits of polyester.
1979: Disco Demolition Night. It was a nice sentiment, though.
1983: Lee Elia blasts Wrigley fans. He said he was sorry later. He meant to say that they were drunk, too.
1985: Pittsburgh drug trial. Whew. Good thing baseball licked that illegal substances problem,