Politicians from Virginia, lobbying to piggyback on a wounded nation's patriotic passions, wrote a letter to Bud Selig, asking baseball's commissioner to base a major-league franchise across the Potomac from Washington as "a lasting memorial to American freedom and the men and women of our armed forces who gave their lives in its defense on September 11."
Red, white and boo!
There are excellent reasons to bring the game of Ripken and Bonds to the state of Washington and Jefferson, but to suggest it should have monumental status attached to 9/11/01 is so politically self-serving the republic should rise and give a derisive whistle for congressmen John Warner, George Allen, Frank Wolf, Tom Davis and Jim Moran. According to the Washington Times, they signed the letter to Selig.
Using the most piercing of U.S. tragedies, terrorist crashings of the Pentagon and World Trade Center, as a device to woo lords of hardball is shameful. Including military personnel in the plea is odd since most victims were civilians.
Allen and Warner disappoint me most. These are U.S. senators. Experienced pros.
Allen is a former Virginia governor and son of an old Washington Redskins coach. Warner gained fame as one of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands and, recently, a Barbara Walters' boyfriend.
Montreal deserves to lose its National League team. Support and interest arenonexistent. Contraction is a strong MLB possibility with the Minnesota Twins (who ironically were once the Washington Senators) being threatened with demolition, perhaps even the Florida Marlins. How long will Tampa Bay duck such firings? But why should the Old Dominion think it merits a "monument" team ahead of Indianapolis, New Orleans, Charlotte or Orlando?
Virginia should have a team.
But for the right reasons.
Baseball, as a business/sport, does many things wrong. Strikes. Labor unrest. But, after the September attacks, Selig's house has reacted beautifully, postponing games for a proper period, sewing American flags on player uniforms, warming ballparks with God Bless America renderings during seventh-inning stretches. Capped by perhaps the classiest, most enthralling World Series ever.
TOUCHDOWNS: When he asked, Sterling Sharpe immediately was granted a sit-down interview with his All-Pro brother, Shannon, along with Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome. Too bad they didn't react to the request as Sterling did while the pompous guy was a Packers pass catcher, saying with a sneer, "Get away from me. I don't talk with reporters." Speaking of ESPN, well-qualified college football analyst Mike Gottfried would be even better if the ex-coach did not feel a need in every third sentence to feature and boost members of his former profession. With a World Series in November, followed by a Super Bowl in February, can we expect Christmas to be put off until January? If today's baseball jocks are indeed bigger, stronger and better conditioned, how come it's such heroic stuff for Curt Schilling to pitch on three days' rest when that was once the big-league norm? In the 1930 World Series, George Earnshaw of the Philly A's worked seven scoreless innings in one victory and, after a single day of rest, went nine and allowed one run in the clincher. Michael Jordan is the NBA's leading career scorer at 31.5 points per game, but if he plays two full seasons with the Wizards and averages fewer than 22, the all-time No. 1 guy will become Wilt Chamberlain at 30.1.
READER'S SHOUT: E-mail from Celestine Burger of Palm Harbor demands, "Please, can't the media restrain their smelly love affair with Warren Sapp? He's mostly motor mouth and jelly belly. More offensive than defensive. Tony Dungy should get in 99's face, but our coach doesn't have enough fire.
"It's so bothersome when TV continually airs sideline shots of Sapp, as though he were excelling. Fox keeps doingclose-ups even as 99 is accomplishing zip on the field. Sapp may be the NFL's most overrated and overexposed player. Overpaid too. Plus being a bad fellow, I hear.
"You newspaper people are guilty too, if to a lesser degree, of inflating the fat guy, just because Sapp freely yaps to reporters. How many giant photos of the obnoxious 99 can we take? Send his tongue to the Pro Bowl because it will be a mass farce if Sapp gets picked to go again to Hawaii. Warren should go home after the 16th game, along with his Bucs mates who clearly are not playoff quality.
"When you're a fan, watching games on TV and always hoping the desperate Bucs can find a way to steal a game in Green Bay, then every five minutes there is a close-up of Sapp. My stomach aches. Such huge exposure for an overexposed egomaniac who never came close to sacking Brett Favre.
"I know media like cute angles. Well, Hubert, 99 is not cute. He's not playing well. Not earning his millions.
"I don't want to see his ugly face unless 99 gets some sacks. If he lucks into trapping a quarterback in the next three or four weeks, Sapp surely will gloat until his ugly blubber shakes, as though he were the NFL's best. Warren is not even close."
Whatever happened to Lindy Infante?
_ To reach Hubert Mizell, e-mail mmizell02earthlink.net or mail to P.O. Box 726, Nellysford, VA 22958.