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Just The Sports: Perhaps Selig Should Have Hung Up

Just The Sports

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Perhaps Selig Should Have Hung Up

After reading Terence Moore's June 7 article where he comes up with a ridiculous idea, the only thing I found more surprising than the fact he is still allowed to work for and get paid by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution is knowing that the commissioner of Major League Baseball actually answers his phone calls and talks to him for an extended period of time. Of course, this could just be a reflection of Bud Selig jumping at any opportunity to discuss a topic unrelated to steroids. So let's see what happens with an awful sports writer asks the commissioner a few questions.

My call to Bud Selig actually was about something else involving Hank Aaron, but when you have the baseball commissioner on the other end of the phone from his office in Milwaukee, well, you swing for the fences. So I dug in deep for several more questions.

I would caution Terence Moore against proclaiming that he will be digging in deeper for several more questions because it implies that his questions will be some of his best. Doing that just makes the questions he asks seem worse.

In other words, do you agree with me that Aaron should have a vibrant and visible role with the new Braves’ ownership?

You really dug in deep for that question, Terence.

And no, I do not think he should. Oh, what's that? You weren't asking me? Fine, let's hear Bud's answer.

“Absolutely,” said Selig, before adding emphatically, “Absolutely. There’s no question about it. I will encourage it, and it should happen.”

No, Bud, it should not happen. And what exactly does "vibrant and visible role" actually mean? Is it another way of saying Aaron will be trotted out for a few more autographing sessions or ribbon cutting ceremonies or other photographic opportunities? I know what Moore's proposed role will not entail: Aaron actually having any real power in the Braves organization.

“You know, Hank went to Washington with me last September during the steroid thing, and he was just tremendous,” said Selig, recalling Aaron’s testimony on Capitol Hill. “That was a pivotal moment in baseball, when we wound up with the toughest drug program in American sports, and he was so helpful.

And I'm sure there's a smartest kid with Down's Syndrome, too, but is that really saying a lot?

Which brings us to the primary reason why I called the commissioner. That slugger for the San Francisco Giants with his artificially inflated arms, legs and everything else just topped Babe Ruth’s 714, and he is easing his way toward Aaron’s 755. As a result, baseball is moving closer to a brutal scenario that would entail the unpopular Barry Bonds catching and passing the popular Henry Aaron.

My solution: Baseball should make Aaron even more popular.

There is absolutely no way to make Hank Aaron more popular than he is right now, with everyone rooting against Barry Bonds to break Aaron's career home-run record. In fact, the only time historical players see a rise in their popularity is when an active player is about to break one of their records. Other times these great players are mentioned only in passing.

Take Ted Williams, for example. Without Ichiro or Nomar or Todd Helton threatening to hit .400 for the season anymore, his name is barely mentioned.

Or Joe Dimaggio. Since Jimmy Rollins failed to come that close to Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak, suddenly he is no longer worth talking about.

You have an award every year for the best pitcher in each league, and it is named after Cy Young, a former player. You have an award every year for the top rookie in each league, and it is named after Jackie Robinson, a former player. You also have an award every year for the most valuable player in each league, and it is named after Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a former commissioner.

If naming the MVP trophy after Hank Aaron is your great plan to increase his popularity, then you are dumber than I thought. Never mind that there is already a Hank Aaron Award (given out since 1999 to the best "overall" hitter in each league), but Aaron's place in baseball lore is already firmly entrenched. Naming the MVP trophy after him will not cause more people to know about him.

Oh, and another thing, if you are going to name the MVP trophy after someone, you might want to name it after someone who actually won the MVP more than once. Why not rename the Cy Young award after Jim Lonborg? He won the Cy Young as many times as Hank Aaron was named MVP.


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