There is no reason to feel sympathy for Major League Baseball.
It is, being charitable, a venal colony.
They sit in front of senators and blithely claim they knew nothing about steroids. They were so, so shocked when they discovered some of the hulks in their teams’ employ might not have achieved their corporal mass naturally.
They really did think the home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire was astoundingly kosher.
It might not have been? Well, you could blow them all down with a feather from a lapdancer’s brassiere.
One of Major League Baseball’s most recent wailings at the Wall of Shame was their lamentation that there are so few African-Americans left in the game.
Somehow, the thought of playing in the NBA, the NFL or even the streets seems preferable to a career in America’s Pastime.
Here’s one teeny suggestion why that might be.
There is an African-American player called Barry Bonds. He is quite old now, but he still managed to have a better on-base percentage than any other player last year.
This year, no team has chosen to make an offer for his services, because somehow the impression has been created that he was the only baseball player ever to have taken steroids.
(Not that this has actually ever been proved, of course. No one has produced, for example, receipts of EPO shipments to him, as allegedly were produced this week in the case of pitcher Roger Clemens.)
So hark at the true and sensitive words of Major League Baseball’s Executive Vice President of Labor Relations, Rob Manfred:
“I don’t evaluate players, but I think anybody who has watched the game understands that’s there’s a variety of factors surrounding this individual that might make the clubs hesitant.”
I could disqualify Mr. Manfred from holding important office by calling him, oh, I don’t know, a lawyer.
I could suggest that he represents an organization that is about as honest as a car salesman.
Which would have nothing to do with the fact that its Commissioner, Bud Selig, was, indeed, a car salesman.
But what is the point?
Mr. Manfred has revealed himself in all his glory by referring to Barry Bonds as ‘this individual.’
Barry Bonds is someone on whose back and bat the San Francisco Giants built a stadium. And when they thought they had squeezed all they could out of him, all they left was one little plaque in left field that reminded those with perfect vision that he had broken the home run record.
By using the words ‘this individual’, Mr. Manfred showed a cynical, patronizing, spiteful nature, his spit suggesting that Barry Bonds was nothing more than a cypher, a felon, a slave, a piece of unwanted dirt.
He could have said ‘Barry Bonds’.
But why bother?
Mark McGuire, who happens not to be black (and the Pond recognizes this is not all about race, but still..), sat in front of a Senate hearing and paraded his ashamed self like the Naked Emperor in a bath house.
Would Mr. Manfred refer to him as ‘this individual’?
Of course not.
And baseball wonders why African-Americans don’t want to play baseball. Would it really have caused Mr. Manfred some waning of his dignity to refer to Barry Bonds in at least a vaguely respectful manner?
By calling him Barry Bonds, for example.
But no. This individual. A phrase taken straight from Law and Order re-runs.
Here’s a helpful thought.
For this phraseology alone, Mr. Manfred should be jettisoned to an individuality somewhere east of Kirkutsk.
Major League Baseball should say that just as it will not tolerate drugs, it will not tolerate disdainful statements about players or former players made by those who are supposed to be the guardians of what remains of the game’s integrity and universal appeal.
There must be some rule in Major League Baseball covering what one baseball person can say about another.
Let’s ask Major League Baseball’s Executive Vice-President of Labor Relations.
The Pond thanks thecarspy for his individualistic sensitivity.