Buster Posey has never been one to give in willingly to his whimsical side. Well, publicly, anyway. Privately, he could be incredibly madcapzanywacky, but thats the problem its private.Thus, his winning the National League Most Valuable Player award is in keeping with his general persona. All the fun-filled arguing, finger-pointing, recriminations and irrational threats happened in the other league. Mike Trout, Defender Of The Logarithm, vs. Miguel Cabrera, Unwilling Proponent Of The Old School why, you can just feel the judgmental hate.Posey, on the other hand, won in something of a walk. He received 27 of 32 first place votes and was in the top three of all 32 ballots.BAGGARLY: Buster Posey honored with NL MVP AwardHe had all the math on his side, all the logic on his side, all the valuable on his side. To not vote for him to win the award required a localized stubbornness or a refusal to reconsider ones ballot after August 1.And whats the fun in that?Posey is already well on his way to being a Carlton FiskThurman Munson type of catcher. True, its early to extend his career and get there, although through age 25 Fisk and Posey are similar players. But personality-wise, he is an amalgam of the two flinty catching stars of the 70s and 80s. In short, he knows what he wants, he states fairly clearly what he wants, and he gets what he wants.And he says it, though in a way that makes you work to understand the meaning. To our knowledge, he still has yet to fully bygone the bygones with Scott Cousins, and he didnt mince a single syllable in discussing Melky Cabrera either. You want Posey, you get Posey, unalloyed.RELATED: Baggs' NL MVP ballotIn exchange for the freedom to have a personality when prudence suggests the mute button, he delivers everything the Giants want. Offense, pitcher wrangling, nucleus-of-the-franchise stuff. He is the teams gravitational center after only 3 12 years, and his total earned salary of 1.657 million is roughly one tenth of what he could legitimately ask for in his next contract discussion.And thats including the fact that he broke an ankle last year.But the lack of debate over his worthiness for the award due entirely to the fact that he had demonstrably the best year of all the candidates is so very Posey. None of his doing, we grant you, but entirely his idiom.It would have been more amusing had there been a more compelling reason to vote for Ryan Braun, or Yadier Molina, or Joey Votto. All had worthy years, but in rarefied air like an MVP vote, the worthiest get defined by a different standard. And at the risk of failing to bore you to tears with all the mathematical and metaphysical reasons why Posey was the best choice, just take our word for it. Posey won because he was that much more comprehensively better.Put another way, Posey deserved the AL Cy Young vote that was cast for Fernando Rodney. Thats how good a year he actually had.Put yet another way, he would have had a hell of a hypothetical case for AL MVP against either Trout or Cabrera.But he screwed up. He ended up in the wrong league, and is on the cusp of becoming the highest paid catcher not named Joe Mauer. Molina signed a five-year, 75M deal that kicks in next year, but Poseys next contract ought to shame that, at least a bit.And when he signs it, he will handle it in that understated yet subtly edgy way of his, as though he were too polite to say, Well, what did you expect to happen?In that way, he is so Fiskian, with hints of Munsonality. And he neither sees reason nor impulse to change. Who he is, is plenty good enough now, to the point where debate for debates sake is essentially pointless.Somewhere, Carlton Fisk doubtlessly nods with approval. And trust us, he doesnt nod easily.
O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.
But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.
The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.
And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.
But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.
There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.
So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.
In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.
Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.