Opinion » Street Talk

Swing and a miss


Why do SLO city leaders and folks at the Tribune hate America so much? They've all declared open season on baseball, which is about as anti-American as you can get. What's next? Just to be safe, I'm going to lock up my mother and freeze my apple pies - or should that be the other way around?

I'll admit that I'm not a big fan of baseball as a sport. A lot of baseball is boring and, well, I can't think of another word for boring, so I'll just say it again: boring. There are long stretches in which nothing happens, and they've got so many little technical rules.

I'll also admit that I think America is pretty boring, just like baseball. There are big stretches of the country where nothing happens, and we've got so many little technical rules.

I am, however, a big fan of America as an idea. You know, freedom and civil rights and "by the people, for the people" and all that. I'm also a big fan of baseball as an idea. It's getting together on a summer afternoon with some good friends and a cold beer and talking and shouting and spitting sunflower-seed shells and saying things like "Hey batta, hey batta, hey batta! No swing! No swing! Hey batta! No swing!"

You can't get away with that sort of stuff anywhere else - even though this is a free country and we're guaranteed a right to free speech. There are limits to our rights, see, and if you think shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater is bad, try shouting "Hey batta!" in a fancy restaurant.

So I've been a bit peeved at the Trib staff lately, even though they're exercising their American right to free speech, which, you know and I know, I've taken shelter under more than once. Still, there are First Amendment exercises that expose guys like Karl Rove for what they really are, and then there are First Amendment exercises that pick on crackerjacks like Blues General Manager Tim Golden, who literally work for peanuts because they love what they do.

The Trib has dug up some dirt on Tim lately, it's true, but not all dirt is scandal dirt that needs to be raked all over the front page. Some dirt is "that's a shame" dirt, which still needs to be exposed, but in a way that makes people look at it and figure out what's wrong with it. Maybe it needs more nitrates or worms or something. I don't know.

Look, forget the dirt metaphor and think of it like this: In life, there are strikes and there are foul balls. Deep, huh? Tim seems to be more of a foul ball guy than a strike man to me.

He's practically got more people scrutinizing his life than does George W. Bush's Supreme Court nominee, which, come to think of it, is another boring subject. That's America for you.

Sandra Duerr and her team of ball busters at the Trib, however, have been going after Tim like he's the man behind the 1919 Chicago White Sox scandal. So here's an all-American guy trying to raise enough money to send his winning players to the NBC World Series in Wichita on one side, while trying to mitigate a multiple-front-page investigation on the other. He's practically got more people scrutinizing his life than does George W. Bush's Supreme Court nominee, which, come to think of it, is another boring subject. That's America for you.

The Trib's recent stories presented a general manager who doesn't have a clue what he's doing and is just a few bucks away from sending his boys to play stickball in the street. Tim said that his players now think he's going bankrupt, and he's not too happy with that image.

To that I say: Tim, if the cleats fit, wear them. Bouncing checks and leaving important papers in the hands of an attorney who's leaving on vacation aren't the best ways to win friends and influence people. On the other hand, you can use these financial fumblings to your advantage.

Tim told the Trib that he didn't think owning a team would be like running a business because baseball is his life. He told New Times that the club is in the best financial shape it's ever been in. Rousing success, revoked incorporation, whatever. Tim should stick to what he does best, which, I've got to say, doesn't seem to be balancing a checkbook, no matter what he says.

Someone around here just needs to step up and be the brains behind Tim's baseball-lovin' heart. He's already got the balls.

Instead of giving him a hand, however, folks like Councilwoman Christine Mulholland are freaking out over the Blues' "years and years of bad behavior," saying they've had "enough, enough, enough" of the team's chicanery.

I've had enough, too. Some people better stop clucking their tongues at this guy and start finding ways to help him keep baseball alive in SLO. We can't spit sunflower seeds on the floor in the new Banana Republic.

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