Time to give up the ghosts. Like the games themselves, Halls of Fame have changed. Standards are diminished, disappearing.
They’re less Halls of Fame than Houses of Cards.
Baseball’s — The beginning of its end as a “shrine” came in 1998, with George Steinbrenner’s appointment to the Hall’s board of directors.
His qualifications included two convictions — one a felony for trying to fix the 1972 Presidential election on behalf of Richard Nixon, the other for trying to fix the investigation on behalf of George Steinbrenner.
He was twice suspended from baseball, the first for violating federal election laws, the second for writing a big check to a conspicuously
deluded and mentally diseased Howard Spira to deliver dirt on Dave Winfield. Steinbrenner tried to portray Spira, a fantasy-driven pathetic soul, as a mobster, a shakedown artist.
Commissioner Fay Vincent didn’t buy it. I still believe Vincent’s wisdom in the matter — taking a team owner down — hastened his departure in favor of Bud Selig.
The end of the end arrived last year, when Selig, blinded and gagged by money to sell out both The Game and its clean players to allow the steroid era to grow, flourish, and then finally explode — leaving MLB in total disrepute — became a first-shot Hall of Fame selection.
The captain of the ship, who acted as if the day of reckoning would never arrive and resided in MLB’s counting house, allowing steroids to rule The Game and shatter hallowed records, made the Hall in an instant. Yet, we now must consider whether the steroid sluggers Selig fully enabled are worthy?
It’s over, folks. Let ’em all in, gambling Pete Rose, shrunken-headed Barry Bonds, chronic liar Alex Rodriguez. If Steinbrenner was a Board member and Selig was an immediate inductee, well, you tell me who doesn’t belong.
Football — A trio of selected inductees, last week, demands unconditional surrender of the good senses.
Ray Lewis was suspended from the NFL for an entire season after he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the investigation of a double homicide.
After that, the murders remain unsolved, he reached a financial settlement with the families of the victims.
After that, he returned to his specialty — illegally and remorselessly knocking opponents cold with brutal blows to their heads, followed by his ritual blood dance. How many concussions did he deliver? How many of his victims now suffer neurological impairment?
He paid the fines, then went back to breaking heads.
The father of six from four women, he can now be found on TV, telling us what’s wrong with the world.
Terrell Owens and Randy Moss, both enormously talented wide receivers, had careers larded with character issues, including abject selfishness that made their presence divisive and counterproductive.
Moss’s talent couldn’t prevent his expendability. He even admitted total disinterest — avoiding even the pretense of downfield blocking — in any play that didn’t include him as the pass target. Small wonder that from 2004 to 2012 he played for seven different teams.
From 2004 to 2010 Owens played for five different teams, his me-first and me-only disruptive conduct inevitably becoming insufferable.
Basketball — The day approaches when a college coach not considered for this Hall will be the greater honor.
Since 2002, eight college coaches whose programs have been scandalized on their watch, some more than once, have been inducted.
Halls of Fame? Sure, whatever. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop.
Godspeed, Father Pete
“That big guy we just had a drink with?”
“Yeah, very nice guy.”
“He’s a Roman Catholic priest.”
“Get out. Really? … You told him a dirty joke.”
“He’d already heard it.”
“Father Pete” — Rev. Peter Colapietro — died Monday at 69. A former bartender who issued last call before answering the call, he was Mother Teresa with a 48-inch waistline, a glass of whiskey, and the great gift of being a great listener — the last a requisite among successful barkeeps and clergy.
Father Pete was a regular at Elaine’s, where he also was a cherished attraction. When he walked in, so help me, he appeared illuminated.
It didn’t matter what sports, literary, government and entertainment superstars were in the house that night, if Father Pete wasn’t there, you felt entitled to get half your money back — not to mention that without his spiritual presence the reliably bad food also seemed risky. Once, as our meal arrived, Father Pete offered to administer “Next-to-the-last rites.”
One night, I asked Father Pete if he’d officiate at my daughter’s bat mitzvah. He thought a moment then said, “Cash bar?”
Announcer makes a Super Coll’ on catches
Since Sunday night, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth has been bashed for his takes on the replay rules during the Super Bowl. Those attacks are not only unfair, they’re ignorant in view of what the NFL has done and become.
Since 1990, Collinsworth has sat in either an NBC or FOX booth trying to do what we’ve tried to do — figure out mostly unintended, senseless replay rules, which change by the week, often reverse right to wrong and otherwise make a mess of games.
Sunday, Collinsworth tried to apply the latest NFL explanations as to what constitutes a catch and/or a TD. He didn’t make the rules.
How was he to know that the NFL, without alerting the public, would suddenly apply common sense — what looked like a catch and a TD stood as a catch and a TD? Such had become a matter of “maybe” all season! Or was this the first Super Bowl to include a coin toss during the game?
Collinsworth tried to apply the convoluted rules as had been explained by the NFL. What was ruled a catch and/or a TD often became neither. Recall Steeler TE Jesse James’ reversed TD catch versus the Pats, or two inane TD reversals against the Jets’ Austin Seferian-Jenkins?
Collinsworth should be saluted, not savaged, for the courage and conviction — and his stated frustration — to shine a Super Bowl light on preposterous rules that so clearly and radically changed from every prior game he called this season.
I’m in complete accord with Philly’s postgame rioters. Every time my team wins a big game I’m overwhelmed by a powerful urge to run downtown and set some fires. Roger Goodell would explain this as “spontaneous fun.”
To save time, the Yankees should place the bullpens directly behind the backstop. No one sits there, anyway.
When the stock market takes a big hit, experts explain it as “a correction.” So why, when it shoots up, is that never explained as “incorrect”?
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