Cumberland Times-News

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June 3, 2007

What have you done for them lately, Sam?

Dear Sirs:

I’ve been a baseball fan for 50 years. The Baltimore Orioles are my team. I’m also a fan of whichever team happens to be playing the Yankees. I’ve watched Major League Baseball change little by little over this period of time until I must confess, I no longer love the game.

It’s because of the usual reasons. And my list is long: the outrageous salaries, steroids, betting, agents, owners, ticket prices, the designated hitter rule, and about half-a-dozen other things. But the item at the very top of my list are the ballplayers themselves. Not all of them now, but a larger number then I’m happy with.

Let’s be honest, a very high percentage of major league athletes are jerks and always have been. As long as they’re not jerks to kids it’s fine with me. What really pulls my chain about the players is the fact that they are ungrateful and have very short memories. Their problem is that they forgot who got them where they are, or do remember and think they could have got there all on their own.

They say football is a game of inches, if that’s true than baseball is a game of nanoseconds and instincts. In football the quarterback handles this part of the game, in baseball every single player on the field must know instinctively what to do in every situation. They aren’t gifted with this knowledge, it’s taught to them by coaches from Little League to the pros.

The players who are athletic enough and smart enough to listen to their mentors may have a future, the ones who may be the best athletes but just can’t master the nuances will entertain the boys on the job or in a bar for years to come with his “I was this close” stories.

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