IT'S EVERYONE'S FAULT EXCEPT MY OWN!

by David Sisler

Bob Costas should have been chosen as the commissioner of baseball. Someone needs to get the game under control and baseball back to being baseball. I'd take the job if they'd offer it, but I would lobby strongly for a few rule changes.

A short list would be: (1) eliminate the designated hitter (if a player isn't healthy enough to field the ball for nine innings he should retire); (2) eliminate interleague play (the two leagues should only meet in October and if we are stuck with this mess, at least rotate it so the Atlanta Braves only lose to the New York Yankees in the World Series); and (3) eliminate the wild card play off spot (any team that finishes second should follow the old baseball maxim, made popular by my poor, pitiful, punched-out Pittsburgh Pirates, "wait'll next year").

So that fair play will rule the day, and so that the baseball honchos will know what they are getting for their commissioner (just as the American public knew what they were getting when they voted for Bill Clinton the second time) for those who cast their vote for me to succeed current commissioner Bud Selig, I will announce in advance "Sisler's rule for mound-charging, batter-hitting, and umpire-bumping."

Paragraph one: the first player to charge the mound in any given season shall automatically be suspended from baseball for one month. The second player to charge the mound in that same season shall automatically be suspended for six months (said suspension to be completed next season if necessary). The third player to charge the mound shall be suspended from baseball for life.

Paragraph two: for the first, second and third pitcher to throw a retaliatory pitch, or to otherwise deliberately hit a batter, see paragraph one.

Paragraph three: for the first, second and third ball player to strike an umpire, see paragraph one.

The players' union would scream loudly, but if our guns are stuck-to, I do not think we would ever issue the second life-time suspension. Keep in mind, please, the sport is called baseball, not the Friday night fights.

Frank Robinson, vice president of on-field operations for major league baseball, is trying to get tougher on players who cannot play by the rules. Case in point: Carl Everett.

Carl Everett's comments following the announcement of his ten-game suspension are proof the suspension was not severe enough. Carl Everett believes that he was suspended, not for bumping an umpire twice, but for something someone else did.

In case you do not follow America's Pastime closely, the Boston Red Sox outfielder was warned by umpire Ronald Kulpa, to stay within the batter's box, specifically to stand six inches back from the plate. Everett became furious when the umpire drew a line with his foot, warning Everett this was literally, a line not to cross.

The replays show Everett bumping Kulpa twice, the second time with a head-butt which staggered the umpire, but it is not his fault, his suspension is unfair. Well, I am putting words in the Bumper's mouth, so let's allow him to speak for himself.

"The whole thing is that the majority of the media tried to make a monster out of a guy," Everett said. "I fault the media. I would say I didn't do the things people said I did."

Well, if he didn't do those things, why did his teammates and coaches restrain him? When he reached the dugout, why did he tip over a water cooler and throw a bat?

Later, according to published reports, he apologized for "not being on the field" during the upcoming ten games. There was no mention of an apology for bumping the ump. And there is a difference.

Boston manager Jimy Williams was asked if he thought the penalty against Everett was excessive. Williams said, "It's not for me to decide. Frank Robinson has a tough job but somebody has to make a decision. He's handled it the best way he can." Translation: this punishment was not excessive.

"Consistency, thou art a jewel," but baseball's diamond is flawed. Pete (I-signed-a-confession-but-I-still-oughta-be-in-the-Hall) Rose was suspended for 30 days for shoving an umpire a dozen years ago. Four years ago Roberto Alomar received only five games for spitting in an umpire's face and baseball officials delayed that so he could play in post season.

"It is the media's fault," Carl Everett said. What is it about humankind that we will not take responsibility for our own actions, preferring instead to blame someone else? How refreshing it would be to hear someone, a baseball player, a politician, a sales clerk, anyone, say, "I did it. I was wrong. Please forgive me." Maybe we would be more prone to do that with each other if we first addressed our confession to the Lord God Almighty.

-30-

Published in The Augusta Chronicle 7/29/2000

Copyright 2000 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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