We blame the steroids. We blame the late starts to the World Series. God knows we blame the excessively long games. But baseball’s biggest problem took center stage Sunday afternoon, when the most interesting person in the sport was standing at a podium and not at the plate or on the mound.
No, Rickey Henderson is not what’s wrong with baseball.
Not having a Rickey Henderson is the issue.
If this is the cleanest the sport has been in a long time, it’s also the quietest. The best player on the planet, Albert Pujols, has a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 42 years and I feel like I know nothing about the guy. Same goes for Hanley Ramirez, who has the tools of a young Ken Griffey Jr., but is about as interesting as the Public Access channel. Take any of the game’s young stars. Mauer, Lincecum, Fielder; we don’t hate any of ‘em, but we sure as hell don’t love ‘em either.
If Henderson was playing today, he’d be tweeting from the outfield. Some would love him, plenty would loathe him, but at least people would have an opinion on a ball player. Look at the other sports. We’ve known everything about LeBron since he was in high school. Brett Favre is a twelve month story. Gossip rags follow Tom Brady everywhere. Baseball is no where close. These players have Peter Gammons wishing he could cover NFL training camps.
Henderson confirmed that he was all done with baseball on Sunday, and if the sport doesn’t act quickly, the fans will follow him right out the door. Sometimes when people talk about golf, they ask what the PGA Tour would be without Tiger. The answer’s simple.
It would be baseball.
- Receiving an endorsement from Terrell Owens is about as beneficial as republicans getting one from George W. Bush, but you’ve got to hand it to the often-controversial Bills receiver. At least he’s willing to step up and pledge his support to Michael Vick at a time when so many other players are scared to hurt their image.
And when Owens points out that “there's a number of guys around the league that have done far more worse things than that and gotten a second chance,” he’s absolutely on the mark.
- You know what’s more indicative of the racial problems in our country than Sergeant Crowley and Professor’s Gates’ little run-in last week? The fact that Ben Roethlisberger is accused of raping a woman and no one seems to believe her. Because if it were Santonio Holmes or any other black guy in the NFL, I guarantee the media would be taking the alleged victim’s claims a little more seriously.
- Whenever Hank Aaron speaks about performance-enhancing drugs, it should be pointed out that he has admitted to taking amphetamines – once.
- For the record, Stephon Marbury gave better quotes this week via uStream than any athlete has given in a long time. And in between long periods of laugh-out-loud commentary, he did offer great insight about his personal life, particularly his time in Minnesota.
He talked about being a teenager who had gone from the projects in Coney Island to Georgia Tech and then over to Minnesota and basically admitted to just being homesick. It felt like the realest thing I’ve ever heard an athlete say and I respect that.
- Let me close with the hypocrites of the week: The four major sports leagues and the NCAA, who are suing to block sports betting in the state of Delaware. Do these leagues realize fantasy sports play a major role in any sport’s popularity? They can’t honestly think we all play fantasy for free, right? And I hope they all know their most passionate fans are paying attention to the sports betting odds for a reason.
This is a case I can’t see the sports winning. Delaware is facing a huge deficit and many believe the state can make up millions from legalizing sports betting. If that’s the case, then I’m all for it.
Plus it makes Delaware worth visiting.