April 15, 2007
Don Imus is an unbelievable jackass. Like, duh. And he might just be a racist too. Is he the first man with a microphone at his disposal to make us sorry for the invention? No. Will he be the last? No..
So while the media’s coverage of the Imus story was excruciatingly long, the segue to the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the baseball color line is a good one. Twenty years ago to the day, on the 40th anniversary of the same event, then-Dodger general manager Al Campanis made a number of sorry statements about black men not “having the necessities” to manage major league baseball teams.
Campanis, like Imus, said at the time that he wasn’t a racist. I have no idea. Either way, he couldn’t have picked a worse time for a brain cramp, and it cost him his job running Jackie’s old club. It cost him a lot more, actually, and that’s a shame, but with a public firestorm similar to the current mess brewing, he had to be fired. Peter O'Malley made the correct call.
It’s beside the point, of course, but Campanis’ sudden departure led to the promoting of Fred Claire, the repercussions of which the Dodgers are just now getting out from under.
Anyway, ESPN and the Dodgers did a nice job celebrating the anniverary Sunday night. Frank Robinson, and to a greater extent, Henry Aaron understand what Jackie went through, and while a first-ball ceremony without Bud Selig is generally superior, this one was pretty damn good.
Yes, Selig has failed in his efforts to create management positions for African Americans in baseball, but he’s presided over enormous growth in opportunities for the number 42. So at least there's that.
It’s rewarding that such a large group of current players chose to honor Jackie by wearing his uniform number 42 for a day, but my personal feeling is, look, it's a retired number; no one should wear it. Isn't that the point of retiring a number?
And you know what else? Jackie Robinson Day is the Dodgers holiday, and no one else's. The accomplishment was Jackie’s, and the Dodgers. It’s not the San Diego Padres day, nor the Atlanta Braves. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays had nothing to do with it. April 15, 1947 is not the New York Yankees day in any way, shape or form; and it’s certainly not the Boston Red Sox.
Ironically, in what amounted to a sort of mini-Imus moment in 2004, Barry Bonds called Boston a “racist” town. Bonds isn’t the best of arbiters for things like good versus evil, and he said it clumsily, but in a sports sense at least, he was essentially right.
As the son of Brooklyn parents, a UCLA Bruin, a lifelong Dodger fan and native Los Angelino, I’m so proud that it was the Dodgers who gave Jackie Robinson his opportunity, and he theirs. He’s my favorite of the men I never saw play. I love Pasadena, as good a Dodger city as there is on the map. And forget Honus Wagner. Below is the coolest baseball card ever produced; the 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson…
Speaking of Pasadena: The next time you’re in the neighborhood, but can’t make it out the stadium, have dinner at Houston’s on Arroyo Parkway. At least once during the evening, more if you can swing it, excuse yourself for a trip to the men’s room. A more beautiful head you’ll never find. Enter, and make a quick right. There, above all three urinals, on individual flat screen monitors, catch a batter or two, courtesy of DirecTV. Bathroom entertainment like no other, right down to the piped-in audio of Vinny. Make sure to linger. Your date, if she’s anywhere near as as understanding as the Main Squeeze, will approve…
Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…
Media Savvy: Props to Bill Plaschke for his great Jackie Robinson piece, in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times.
Here are a couple of other interesting reads on the same topic:
He’s Powerless: Jason Schmidt can say he feels fine until his employers are Dodger blue in the face, but he’s a rotator cuff surgery waiting to happen. Yes, a starter can adapt his game to pitch successfully after losing some life on his fastball, but Schmidt lost seven to ten miles per hour during an offseason, and there has to be a reason. Look for the Dodgers to order an MRI within a week, followed by an extended stay on the DL for Mr. Schmidt. Then count on hearing the words "damanged goods" for the foreseeable future....
Bullpen Woes: According to Rotoworld.com, “[Brad ] Lidge's fastball is still there, so he could turn things around if he gets his head on straight.” Actually, no. Rotoworld is being kind, but it’s just a momentarily lapse in judgment. Lidge is Calvin Schiraldi, Tom Niedenfuer, Byung-Hyun Kim and Rick Ankiel, all rolled into one…
Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…
Remember, glove conquers all….
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