Saturday, October 14, 2006

Well, the As won't be celebrating a World Series title this fall, just like they haven't celebrated in each of the seasons during Billy Beane's reign of terror. Sooner or later, the commercial media will stop massaging his ego and start expecting a little more than simply making the playoffs. Until that day, I guess fans will have to swallow his snake oil for at least one more year. Perhaps Billy Beane and Peyton Manning can have a grudge match in the offseason to see which overhyped fraud can rightly lay claim to the title "King of the Frauds."

Unlike most people, I guess, I think that at some point a player or a coach has to lead his team to a championship game or series, and an executive must build a team that can at least reach the championship game or series. Until that happens, any praise a player, coach or an executive receives isn't worth a damn thing. Sports, unlike any other aspect of life, are shockingly simple. Someone wins and someone loses. And until you've won, you're nothing but a loser. Any other sentiment but that is nonsense you feed little kids after they lost a Little League game. That's why Peyton Manning is a fraud, and Billy Beane is nothing more than the nerdy kid who knew more algebra than they rest of us (Theo Epstein, stats tool though he is, gets a pass because his team won a title).

A development more interesting than the As collapse occurred in this year's ALCS. Far be it for me to take delight in the downfall of another, especially when some many better paid commentators on TV and in the press do it so gleefully. But Steve "Psycho" Lyons will not be joining us in the broadcast booth at least not for the foreseeable future. I guess we all should have seen this coming, but I never believed it possible.

I imagine their must have been a segment of the viewing audience who enjoyed his "wit," "wisdom" and "insight." I was not one of those people. Moreover, no one I know enjoyed his commentary on baseball broadcasts. And yet, there he was calling games on Fox Saturday baseball with Thom Brenneman making you miss Tim McCarver and Joe Buck, as impossible as that seems. It's amazing that a lack of talent, humor and real insight into the game is not cause for dismissal.

I do agree that his off color comments on people of Hispanic descent merited punishment. But is saying that Lou Pinella was "hablaing Espanol" so terrible? I don't think so. It's certainly stupid, a poor attempt to be folksy. Very poor indeed. Far worse, and less intelligent, was his remark that he was uncomfortable sitting next to Lou Pinella (who is of Hispanic descent) and he feared for the safety of his wallet. That was enough to get him fired.

The strange thing is he had a history of this type of behavior. During the Mets-Dodgers NLDS matchup, he cracked on a fan wearing unusually thick glasses. The cute little epigram was "wearing a digital camera on his face." Of course, there was no way for Steve Lyons to know that the fan in question was almost blind, but there was no need for him to say that either.

Then there was the infamous criticism of Shawn Green for not playing a game against the Giants during Yom Kippur. Shawn Green just happens to be Jewish. Amazingly, Lyons survived that incident. He was suspended without pay, but he wasn't fired. I guess this was his third strike.

I am somewhat torn about this. Part of me is glad that he's no longer broadcasting baseball because I thought he brought nothing to the table. Part of me understands that what he said was colossally ignorant and has no place in civilized conversation. But part of me knows that we've all either made off color comments about other racial or ethnic group. And part of me fears political correctness will eventually overwhelm free expression.

One must ask the question how dumb is Steve Lyons? Even if enlightenment in this area is beyond your intellectual capacity, at some point the instinct to self preservation should come to the fore. If you have been caught on two prior occasions for general insensitivity, and disciplined for religious insensitivity, avoiding any type of ethnic insensitivity might be a good idea. If those of you who read this (all 1.3 of you) aren't smart enough to grasp the self preservation concept, I would suggest this course of action. Simple politeness.

Take a page from General Patton (as depicted in the Oscar winning film with George C. Scott). After omitting the Russians from a speech on his experiences in England where he ever so briefly mentioned Anglo-American world rule in a postwar scenario, Patton found himself in hot water with his superiors. The organizers of his appearance assured the General that his remarks would be off the record, but word got out and caused a huge controversy.

Patton said to his superiors that he would have mentioned the Russians if there had been any present at the time. He said he didn't like the SOBs, but he would have mentioned them out of simple politeness. Apparently simple politeness is far, far beyond the capacities of our society.

Do not misconstrue the tone of this post. Racism is not acceptable. Under no circumstance should you make someone uncomfortable because of their heritage. I merely suggest to those individuals who are not sufficiently enlightened to abandon racial prejudice or clever enough to recognize the consequences of ethnically insensitive comments, that you should at least be polite enough to keep your mouth shut. I apologize for the grammar, but if you can't not be a moron, at least be a quiet moron.

In the long run, I think it's a victory for us all to have Steve Lyons off the air. Unless, of course, the network finds a permanent replacement who proves to be worse than Psycho. I guess we can always hope.

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