I have never agreed with baseball manager Leo Durocher's famous
statement, "Nice guys finish last." Weak guys usually finish last, but
"nice" and "weak" are very different. And over the long haul of life, the
decent do better than the indecent.
But even if you agree with Durocher, you have to admit that this
year in Durocher's profession, the guys who finished first are very nice
I will not feign disinterest. I am delighted the Anaheim Angels
won the World Series. Since I moved to Southern California 27 years ago, I
have been waiting for some joy from this team. But the major reason for my
happiness is that the Angels are a bunch of nice guys -- not a prima donna
among them and nearly all entirely unknown to almost anyone outside of
Southern California (and probably to most people in Southern California,
How unknown? When Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball,
awarded the Series' Most Valuable Player trophy to Angels third baseman Troy
Glaus, he mispronounced Glaus's name (which is Glaus as in "floss"). He
called him Troy "Glouse." (Maybe he was distracted by the Mouse on Angels
owner Michael Eisner's T-shirt.)
I also loved the win because I prefer Orange County's values to
San Francisco's. No offense intended to the fine Giants organization, but
the thought that the Bay Area, home to many of the most radical folks in
America, would be celebrating a win over the traditional folks of Orange
County was too painful to contemplate. And when San Francisco Mayor Willie
Brown announced that San Francisco would "be embarrassed to lose to
Anaheim," rooting for Anaheim became a moral obligation.
And who could not love the fact that neither the New York
Yankees nor the Atlanta Braves moved past the first round of playoffs? The
Yankees players are paid as much as the Angels and Giants teams
combined . And, as for the Braves, for those of us who believe
America is a good country, it is hard to care for a team partly owned by,
and which plays in a stadium named after, Ted Turner.
Now, for some things I didn't like.
I did not like all the little sons of players in the Giants'
dugout. Whether it was manager Dusty Baker's idea -- his 3-year-old son was
so ubiquitous, he had to be lifted by Giant J.T. Snow after the player
crossed home plate lest the tot be trampled by another Giants player running
right behind him -- or just another San Francisco idea to be different and
overthrow tradition, it reeks of narcissism. Perhaps when the nation got to
see Dusty's little boy crying hysterically when his dad's team lost, the
idea may have lost some of its cuteness even to fans who liked it.
I also didn't like the Fox TV ads. It's quite sad that Fox,
America's raunchiest and most superficial network, has the rights to
televise baseball. Only 17-year-old boys with more testosterone than brain
matter could find appealing any of the Fox TV series relentlessly promoted
between innings. Not a single show interested this adult male. And since
baseball has done everything possible to avoid appealing to young people, I
don't know whom the ads appealed to. I sometimes wish that all TV became
pay-TV, without ads. The price we pay in having our young people bombarded
with primitive promos and beer ads is considerably greater than any nominal
price we would be charged to watch the World Series. In my home, we muted
all the ads to keep our sanity and to protect our 9-year-old's remaining
And am I alone in finding Barry Bonds standing still after he
hits a home run obnoxious (not to mention narcissistic)? Mere mortals run
the bases when they hit home runs, not stand around and then slowly trot
around the bases.
Apparently, the TV ratings for World Series games gets lower
each year. I'm sorry to hear that. It doesn't speak well for baseball, a
sport whose owners and players' union in their boundless greed seem to do
whatever they can to alienate Americans from their national pastime. And it
doesn't speak well for the public, which apparently finds the lack of
violence and the slow, cerebral pace boring.
But for those who watched two wildcard teams climb to the
pinnacle of baseball and then watched one dramatic game after another, it
was easy to fall in love with baseball all over again. Even if the Giants