Sunday, May 14, 2006

You can tell everyone I'm a damn disgrace

There is a parallel here between Ozzie and Mark Cuban. Cuban has been fined something close to a million dollars for bitching about the quality (or lack thereof) of NBA officiating. Cuban has been treated like an out-of-control lunatic by the national media, frothing at the mouth every time the refs do something negative to his Mavericks. This ignores the simple fact that, in my opinion, Cuban has been absolutely spot-on right about everything he says. He has made specific recommendations on how to improve officiating, including not rotating everybody, including the bad officials, through key playoff games. Cuban doesn't go along with the pro-wrestling mentality (manage the TV ratings through game officiating), and the major media, instead of exposing the NBA for the hypocritical sham it is, just pretend Cuban is just a lunatic and the NBA is on the up-and-up. (Note: I am *not* a Maverick fan.)

The same thing happens with Ozzie. And it snowballs. Because Ozzie's mouth is great copy, the fact that what Ozzie says is right is getting lost. Ozzie (and Cooper!) got tossed on a seemingly disingenuous basis (arguing balls and strikes -- A checked swing argument with the 1B umpire is not what was meant by "arguing balls and strikes"). The national media story is Ozzie Goes Ballistic, which is typical BS coverage, like the Cuban coverage.

Umpiring errors are rarely mentioned in game stories from the AP, and if they are, it's couched in "objective" language about "controversial" calls and words like "replays appeared to show". If Mark Cuban or Ozzie Guillen can't draw attention to patterns of error, then nothing will ever change -- because the sportswriters are lapdogs everywhere outside New York and Boston -- and we'll have to put up this ever-declining quality of game officiating.

The truth is, baseball, like basketball, is a commercialized amusement. It is run mostly to entertain people. It is theater. We who take it too seriously forget this, and want the better team to prevail, not the better story. Cuban is so rich he'll just go on speaking his mind (or running his mouth). Ozzie's fine will get paid by Jerry Reinsdorf. And so it goes.

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