Sunday, December 12, 2004
THE EPITOMY OF HUBRIS
By Diane M. Grassi
This was a week for the megalomaniacs of Major League Baseball to lay low.
Let the players' tradings and signings by the owners begin amongst themselves at the Owners' Meetings in Phoenix, AZ. Expect for Commissioner, Bud Selig, and Players Association Executive Director, Don Fehr, to begin to get down to the nitty-gritty on substantive changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement as it relates to illegal substance testing.
And now that the proverbial black eye has been levied against MLB through documentation from the BALCO Grand Jury testimonies, most fans are either disgusted or unphased by the latest foibles in the world of MLB. Both reactions are not good for its future health.
Collectively MLB, the MLB Players Association as well as MLB ownership has done little in the past several years in addressing the illegal substance issue other than to pay it lip service to the public and to the U.S. Congress. But now that the denial can no longer go on, thanks to back-door full and partial admissions of such use by Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield respectively, the issue has to be addressed with at least the appearance of forthrightness.
But as MLB strives to do some serious damage control over the winter and at the same time continue on with its normal pace of operations in order to get ready for the 2005 season, it needs to put its proverbial brood on notice that they need to represent the face of MLB in the most positive way they can. In other words, they should be selective in their choices for dealing with the public-at-large.
That brings us to the "Ultimate Experience" which was facilitated by the best known name in baseball himself, Barry Bonds, and NY Yankee, Alex Rodriguez, arguably the other best known name in all of MLB. It took place at the Marriot Hotel in NYC's Times Square on Friday, December 10th. To say the timing of the event itself was bad for Barry Bonds is an understatement. (He is still under a great cloud of controversy since the Grand Jury testimony was leaked just a week prior.) And for both Bonds and Rodriguez to host such an event in the way in which it was done, did not "ultimately" improve their "approval ratings."
The "Ultimate Experience" invokes images of the political fund raiser, which we all are too familiar with hearing about this past election year. A cocktail party for the well-heeled, was a benefit for the least few in the community, as it was limited to 100 persons, willing to pay the fee of $7500.00 in order to "Meet and Greet" the candidate, I mean ballplayer, in an effort to get a signed baseball and the chance to ask a question of him; although there were areas of questioning which were off limits, such as anything personal or anything having to do with the state of affairs of baseball concerning illegal substances.
Additionally, it was an attempt, at least on Rodriguez' part, as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of America, with all proceeds going to the Miami, FL chapter. If he is a NY Yankee and holding this event in NY, why not have any of the proceeds go to the NYC chapter? Barry Bonds did not disclose what he was going to do with the money. In other words, for those stooges willing to fork over $7500.00 for five minutes of the player's time, they were not told whether the money which went to Mr. Bonds was going to go to a charity at all.
More curious above all was that this event was co-hosted by Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez; Bonds who does not care what the public thinks of him as he as reiterated many times, and A-Rod, a guy who actually gives the appearance of running for office, given the time he devotes to his public image.
But most important of all, at a time when MLB could really use its players to promote its positive image, two of its biggest stars chose to take the easiest route to earn the quickest return without including the community or its children. While many MLB players are handing out toys to children at local hospitals and volunteering at soup kitchens this time of year, and should be applauded, none of the "Ultimate Experience" proceeds will directly benefit the local communities or fans for which Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez play.
No, not everything about MLB is negative or related to illegal substance abuse, but not everything about playing MLB should be about making money or gratifying one's ego either. Being a star in Major League Baseball carries with it another kind of price tag which has to do with giving back to the community and being held to a higher standard in doing the right thing. And that unfortunately is not taught between the lines.
posted by Diane M. Grassi 3:57 PM