Monday, September 20, 2004

Stupid Stuff in Sports

The incident in Oakland, Part I: Professional athletes are people too, despite the pedestals we like to raise them to. That means that sometimes they are going to lose their tempers and do stupid, thoughtless things. And we fans of the games should hold them accountable. We are often upset that athletes (even supposed amateurs) are so important that they are often judged by different standards and many times get away with things that would ruin the careers of other people. So of course, most of us (even Rangers fans like me) are going to support the suspension of Frankie Francisco.

No matter what was said and done, he and his teammates have to keep their cool as best as they can. I cannot see what justifies violence at all, so the chair probably should not have been in his hands let alone set aloft toward the stands unless he thought he was in some danger.

That said, I believe that the standard we expect to judge Francisco by has not been applied to the people in the stands in Oakland, a place that already has a history of problems. As I said, now and then one player loses his cool. But something must have happened to get most of the team out there sparring verbally with these fans. Players are used to heckling and even have to endure verbal abuse that would get the abuser fired at work. But to my knowledge there hasn't even been an investigation into what these fans had been doing. This fact points to one of the many symptoms of our sick society. We cannot look inward to find what in us needs correction. We just go along justifying our actions, pointing fingers at anyone who disagrees.

The security was nonexistent. The Oakland organization spent so much time decrying Francisco's behavior (which, I repeat, is deplorable and inexcusable) that they did not expend an ounce of energy to find out what is going on in their stadium that helps bring such incidents about. As John Kruk wrote, "Let's see what happens when 30,000 people come to your job and shout obscenities about the private details of your life."

When this sort of thing happens again, don't be surprised. And don't be surprised when some of these idiots aren't bragging to their friends and on radio talk shows about how fun it is to rile opposing players.

The incident in Oakland, Part II: The lawyer for the woman struck during the incident reportedly likened what happened to the events at the Abu Ghraib prison. "It comes from the top," he said. This guy has to be kidding. First of all, he and the Bueno's can't honestly think that nothing harmful was said to provoke Francisco and Brocail (see Part I above). But they certainly are maintaining that stance. Second, while it is possible to blame the entire organization for hiring someone with a quick temper, I can't see how the Rangers are completely responsible for his actions. This lawyer is just trying to get attention.

And I think I'm going to pull what's left of my hair out if I hear the Buenos again on television talking about how they feared for their lives. Right. Jennifer Bueno's remarks were a mirror image of her husband. I can't help but wonder what else their lawyer coached them to say.

I won't say the situation wasn't scary. I wasn't there. I'm sure that it was. But if they were really afraid for their lives, why weren't they doing what people who are scared do? Did they run? Did they yell for help? Did they decide they had to defend themselves against impossible odds? (Of course the numbers were on the side of the fans, but that doesn't seem to get brought up.) No. These people stayed there, perhaps to continue jeering and being "ugly," as my grandmother would say.

On a slightly different note, one article pointed out that Craig Bueno coaches football and wrestling and has three sons. Is he so proud of his behavior at A's games that he would want his sons to act accordingly? He claims his comments are relatively harmless, but if he would let his sons do similar things, I wonder about him. I remember coaches taking our teams to games. Does he take his athletes to A's games (he is a season ticket holder)? If so, does he encourage such behavior?

Keyshawn, shut your damn mouth: Keyshawn Johnson may well have cost the Cowboys a touchdown today, and since the game was close, that touchdown might well have meant the game. After a Cleveland player was called for a late hit, he got himself called for unsportsmanlike conduct, negating the penalty which would have given Dallas a first down. Instead the Cowboys settled for a field goal. Off the field, I couldn't tell if he was arguing with Parcells or just trying to explain himself. Either way, it seemed as if the coach told him to shut up.

Good idea. Keyshawn, if you want others to think you are a team player, then DO shut up. You had a good game otherwise. You are good enough to let your play do the talking. The smartest thing you did was knock that ball down at the end of the game and not try to intercept it. That surprised me. Please keep surprising me.

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