I love baseball. Anyone who frequents this blog knows that. In my mind, baseball is the clearest mirror to this country there is. So goes America, so goes baseball. It’s true in so many ways if you look back at in generationally. The “Greatest Generation” that liberated the world from the Nazi Empire also played the brand of baseball that brings tears to your father’s eyes. When America was all about “bigger, better, faster” in an effort to keep up with the Soviet Union, baseball did the same. The steroid era started in the late 1980s. Hell, even our current issue of outsourcing labor overseas is represented in the monster paychecks we throw at imported players. In some way, at every turn, baseball is America.
That’s why I am so pissed off. I hate to admit it because I will probably love it anyway, but baseball has become officially ass backwards. We stare across a field of players having no idea who is clean. The first sign of a player standing out for their skills now becomes the jumping off point for when we begin to question if they are cheating. Contracts are astronomical. Players demand trades. We are forced to debate whether it is better to cheat and be honest or to deny cheating and live in suspicion. Even though it will help the Dodgers, even though I am burning a bridge I like standing on, Manny will be forgiven for this and that is wrong. Just like Giambi before him, he sort of admitted doing something wrong. His crime will become a silly footnote to discuss during his at bats. Why? There is always a Clemens or A-Rod lurking, content to find everyway possible not to admit it or serve time for it.
The world has gone bonkers.
It is not just at the highest level. Our intelligence as fans is being questioned. Worse than that. It is being mocked. Take the Curious Case of Bobby Jenks. For those of you just reading this for the rant, Bobby Jenks is the 100 mph-hurling closer for the Chicago White Sox. The other day, six of his teammates get hit by pitches thrown by Texas Ranger pitchers. Jenks couldn’t stand it anymore from the bullpen, so the minute he hit the field to close it out, he decides to throw behind Ian Kinsler, one of the Texas Rangers’ stars. Both teams got a verbal warning, Jenks eventually got Kinsler out, the Sox won, shit, shower, shave, shasta, rasta, pasta.
After the game, Jenks admits he did it on purpose. To quote him directly:
“No, I meant to. To send a message. Basically I was saying, ‘I’m sick of seeing our guys get hit and hurt and almost get taken out of the game.’ I threw it with intention. I’m not going to put a guy on in that situation. I was not going to hit him. I made my point with that pitch and it came across the way I wanted it to. I’m not going to go dirty. I was going to keep it low and behind him.”
Basically, fuck yes I meant to do it and I took great caution to make a point and not injury someone. Even in high school ball, this was a part of the game. People threw at you. You threw it people. A fastball towards your head is the great equalizer. It will humble anyone. I am not defending Jenks at all. I am simply saying what he did is very, very common, especially so after six of your teammates get beaned.
MLB baseball officials decide to look into the event. They are considering fining Jenks for his retaliation. OK. Fine. Jenks knew what he was doing, he took great care in doing it, and admitted it. If the league wants to play enforcer, so be it. Let’s hear what they come up with.
The league fined Bobby Jenks seven-hundred-and-fifty-fucking dollars. The amount is absurd. At first glance you will read the headline and see Jenks got fined for a dangerous play. The league must be angry. WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN THE RANGERS AND SOX PLAY NEXT TIME?! What will happen is ESPN will televise it.
Why is $750 bullshit? Because it could not be more meaningless. Let’s break down the numbers.
Jenks makes $5,600,000 dollars a season. Broken down into 162 games (of course he’ll only pitch in a fourth of them), Jenks is making $35,000 per ballgame. To fine him $750 is to fine him 2% of a game check. It is to fine him ONE-TEN-THOUSANDTH of his annual salary. What on earth does that prove to the fans, to Jenks, to the Rangers or to our collective intelligence. Still not resonating with you?
Let’s say you make $50,000 dollars a year. The equivalent fine in your world would be $5. So imagine your co-worker is being a prick to you and finally you spill a cup of lukewarm coffee on their boat shoes. Everyone in the office is talking about it. You hear it in the cafeteria, in the bathrooms. Your boss tells you that he’s gonna be deciding what to do with you. Then, with a totally straight face and cancer-like seriousness, he pulls you into his office and tells you he is fining you five fucking dollars.
Do you see my point? Baseball is getting so damn confused. Even the lousy old NBA suspended Derek Fisher one game for Euro-soccer flopper Luis Scola pretending he took a hard hit. That cost Fisher $45,000. It is not going to break him, but at least it is enough to make him think twice.
I’m just at a loss.