THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
Earlier this year, I posted some thoughts on making sure athletes aren't revered as if they were gods. I wrote that piece a few months in advance of its posting because of the long line of posts we have here at the blog and how they get released, etc. While I was waiting for that piece to get published, I had to go back and edit it a few times to actually remove some of the names from it that were still included in the list of people who it was okay to, for lack of a better term, idolize.
I should have just kept that entire list blank.
When I watched the 2016 Chicago Cubs, I gave a lot of credit to young players like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant because they looked like they played the game the right way. The clip between Rizzo and infamous umpire Angel Hernandez was heartwarming during the playoffs as it showed Rizzo apologizing to Hernandez and both coming to amicable terms, as if it was some sort of lost art in humanity.
Then, during the 2017 season, both players committed acts that made me regret that decision. We already discussed the dirty slide by Rizzo earlier this year. And that's not to say that Rizzo is a dirty player, but the act was clearly illegal (as was stated by Joe Torre); further, for Rizzo and his kooky manager Joe Maddon to both defend it makes it even worse.
In July, Bryant earned his first career ejection at the hands of umpire Lance Barksdale for a strike three pitch that was very much inside. Bryant was demonstrative in his disgust, pointing constantly as if to make sure the crowd knew the pitch was inside; his barrage of words, which, according to Maddon, were nowhere near anything Maddon has ever said to be ejected, was enough for Barksdale to send him on his way for the first time in his young career. And what did Bryant say after the game?
"I had to defend myself."
What is it with this young generation thinking the world revolves around them? You had to defend yourself against one bad call? Is that seriously that high on your priority list?
Here's a note to Bryant and anybody on the Chicago Cubs who now has a World Series ring: you just won your first championship in 108 years. You ended the longest standing streak of a championship drought, bringing not only the attention of the nation to Wrigley Field, but possibly the world. You are getting paid (or will be getting paid) millions of dollars to play a kids' game, let alone the additional money you made from the championship and every endorsement that followed. I understand that your new goal is to win another championship and to put the last one behind you, but that shouldn't be at the expense of common decency.
You know what Derek Jeter did when he disagreed with a call? He might have said something briefly to an umpire, but not in a demonstrative way, and he walked away before it could escalate. You know what Hideki Matsui did when he disagreed with a call? He looked straight up into the sky for a moment, then walked away.
Will Aaron Judge be the next person to disappoint me? Or will he continue to show some decency and restraint when he disagrees with a call?
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.