Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I have to say, the Barry Bonds thing bores me, and ultimately I'm more sad than anything about whole thing. Small consolation that he is a junkie and a cheater and will always be known as such. Others have said that if we are to condemn him, then we must condemn all others - but I disagree. I condemn first and foremost the one with the biggest record in baseball. For his visibility and prominence and for his utter lack of remorse or conscience. I also despise McGuire and Sosa for their "alleged" drug use, but in 10 years no one will care about them (or any other 'roid users for that matter.) Bonds discrace will last generations, and for that - he gets magnum vilification.

In other, more shocking sports news; the story that has literally put a knot in my stomach is this NBA referee gambling scandal. Tim Donaghy, a highly rated veteran ref, has pleaded guilty to two counts; conspiracy and fraud, and faces 20 years in prison for betting and getting paid for tips on games that he refereed. Wow.

As someone who was almost a professional sports official in his life, who had a chance to live and breathe the professional mindset at umpire school for 6 weeks; I cannot even begin to fathom how to tell you how earth shattering this is. Just so far beyond words, for one of these men, who truly devote their lives, not just livelihoods, to fair play - for one to succumb to an alien sickness such as this - is beyond comprehension. My brain has basically shut off, as it did when I saw the towers fall. Right now, this does not compute.

I suppose I'll sort it all out eventually, but for now my mind is both racing and numb.

When I was 12, I bought a cassette tape from the National Association of Sports Officials, that had a lecture on it by the late great Durwood Merrill. (No relation.) A crusty old major league veteran umpire. He talked about balls and strikes ("I'm a striker. I look for strikes!") and safes and outs ("You've got to watch the ball and the runner!" -Bad advice it turns out, at least according to my instructors years later). But at the end of his lecture he waxed philosophic about the life, and even touched on temptations. Yes, there are baseball umpire groupies, and yes - umpires are human beings. But Durwood briefly spoke about and warned of the most evil thing at all. He didn't say it by name, but it was clear he was talking about the temptation to take money for affecting the outcome of the game. He said, and I'm paraphrasing; "Watch out, they're going to get one of us one of these days."

That shiver down my spine is the prescience of his words. He was right. I couldn't comprehend it then, and I can't even think about it now. But he was right.

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