Blog

Freelance Sports JournalistSubscribe Now

CONSIDER THIS A WARNING

adam-jones-orioles

And, these are the words that have put Baltimore Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones under the microscope:

“I think it’s idiotic for people to run on the field and I think the punishment needs to be a lot harsher and they should let us have a shot to kick them with our metal spikes on. I get it, you’re drunk and you want to be on Sportscenter. Your [expletive] is going to jail with a fine, you might not be allowed to come back to the ballpark. That’s heads up. And I remember a couple of years ago, one dude broke his ankle in Baltimore. I was laughing at him. I wish he shattered his femur. Because it’s stupid, it’s just point blank stupid. And anybody who does it, I wish the cops Tased the living [expletive] out of them. I wish that.”

Jones was reacting to two fans who ran onto the field last week at Yankee Stadium. Seem harsh? Maybe. Major League Baseball released a statement saying they'd review Jones' comments. Waiting ...

Adam+Jones+New+York+Yankees+v+Baltimore+Orioles+zsnwuIKaBTUl

While we wait it gives us ample time to consider the possibilities.

This isn't the first time Jones has aired his concern over fans running on the field. In April 2012, he watched homeplate umpire Jeff Kellogg take out a fan running on the field. After the game Jones implored MLB to take action saying:

"I'm sick and tired of these guys running on the field, man. I said let's get a K-9, something. A K-9 [unit] would be fine. I'd [advocate] that people get tased. I'd enjoy that. You don't run on the field and just disturb a game that's going on. I don't like the way the cops go after them here. I know it's not their call. I know the rules; they want them to create a circle or seal. Those kids are running all around those guys. No disrespect to the cops, but go get this dude, put your knee in his throat and tie his [butt] up, simple as that. It's so annoying. I wish I [could] go out there as a player, but we can't."

K-9 dogs? Tasers? Put a knee in his throat? While it may seem harsh now, consider what if ... a fan attacks a player or an umpire? This may all sound a little dramatic now, but what if ... The potential is there.

"You can't stop [it] from happening, because you would have to put up barriers, and that would obstruct the fans. The only thing you can do is make examples of them. Give them real jail time. Fine the [heck] out of them. Twenty grand. Nobody wants to be fined 20 grand. Obviously, the safety of players is important to me ... You are not going to let someone come on the field and damage your investment. Just looking at it from a business model. So it is what it is."

Jones did not apologize, nor should he. He raises a great point, and now it's up to MLB to act before something happens.

REMEMBER, TODAY IS HENRY AARON’S DAY

aaron

In 1974, we had no cable television; no Internet or smartphones. My connection to the game of baseball included a stack of bubblegum cards, a copy of Who's Who in Baseball, the weekly Sporting News, the daily Times Union newspaper, Monday Night Baseball and the NBC Game of the Week, oh, and the occasional summer pilgrimage to places like Shea Stadium, Fenway Park or Jarry Park in Montreal.

For me, Henry Aaron was the name on a baseball bat my father had purchased at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Racism? Death threats? I had no clue. I didn't understand why his mother was hugging the life out of him at homeplate. I was nine years old. I just sat and watched on a television set that was larger than me as Aaron jogged around the bases. The crowd roared. Fans ran onto the field and congratulated him between second and third base. I knew what Aaron had done but I had no idea of the magnitude of the event. This was bigger, much bigger, than baseball.

Today, 40 years after Aaron's historic home run, his story is spilling out in a series of features. You can watch and read Aaron's story in almost every major publication. In between the lines, you can still sense the joy and a great deal of pain. He told Bob Nightengale:

To remind myself that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record. If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There's not a whole lot that has changed. We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he's treated. We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country. The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.

Peter Gammons took a much more simplistic tact to the story, including a quote from Tom House, the Braves pitcher who caught the ball in the team bullpen and delivered it to Aaron at home plate: House said:

I honestly have no recollection of anything until I got to home plate where a whole lot of players, coaches and miscellaneous people were surrounding Aaron, his mom, and his bodyguard, Calvin Wardlaw. I pushed my way through the crowd and as I got to Aaron, who was hugging is mother, I reached out with the ball and said, 'Here it is Hammer.' He took it from me and said, 'Thanks, kid.' What stunned me were the tears in his eyes and on his cheeks.

MLB.com columnist and former Atlanta-Journal Constitution reporter Terrence Moore believes Aaron deserves "a centuries-long celebration" for his achievement. He added:

If Aaron wasn't the greatest baseball player of all time ... he was 1b, sitting within a millimeter of whoever was 1a.  Not only that, if Aaron saw ways for the national pastime to improve when it came to diversity, he wasn't exactly afraid to flap his tongue ... Aaron's legacy is eternally connected to how he responded during and after his pursuit of Ruth's ghost ...

Current Braves MLB.com beat writer Mark Bowman introduced us to another witness:  Bill Acree, the Braves director of team travel and clubhouse services. Acree's perspective is much like yours or mine, he was on the outside looking in. He said:

It wasn't a lot of fun for him. It was fun for the people around it. It wasn't fun for the people in the middle of it. [Aaron] one of the most normal guys in the clubhouse you would have ever seen.

Flash forward 2014: Baseball fans have access to every game, they are tweeting in real-time, blogging about every play, player and rumor. The game has been changed by free agency, the designated hitter, player strikes and Steroids, among other things. The events of the last 40 years have made it difficult for the media to focus on the achievement without considering the extraneous. Hence, Barry Bonds.

Sports Illustrated baseball reporter Tom Verducci tackled this one writing:

What makes Hank Aaron's record all the more special to a baseball fan is that it was entirely above reproach. Ruth never played at night, west of St. Louis or after integration. Bonds was a serial user of performance-enhancing drugs, as so well defined by Game of Shadows.

And, there it is. Right alongside of Aaron comes Bonds.

There is a place and time for this debate, but April 8, 2014 is not it. This day is reserved for Henry Aaron. This is the 40th Anniversary of his greatest baseball accomplishment. Today is a time to celebrate his courage, grace and humility. The only way to honor Aaron properly is to leave Bonds out the conversation.

DID METS ADDRESS COLLISION RULE?

collins-02

Last week while New York sports radio was busy criticizing Daniel Murphy's paternity leave, a story was unfolding at Citi Field -- one actually worth discussion.

[Read more...]

WEEKENDER: NO FUTURE FOR MONTREAL

expos

It's the eve of a new baseball season -- kind of. With the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks playing "real" games last week in Australia, followed by the Dodgers and San Diego Padres tonight on ESPN, tomorrow's unofficial season openers are anti-climatic for some (see below). Regardless of scheduling, it's a very exciting time for you and I. Baseball is back and here is the latest Weekender, a summary of stories, thoughts and items that have caught my attention this weekend  ...

[Read more...]

DARING TO BE HONEST

cosell

Dale Hansen did what any reporter should do: he reported the facts.

[Read more...]

THE TRUTH ABOUT MICHAEL SAM

michael-sam

Listen to the interview. Listen closely to what Michael Sam says.

"I don't think I should be defined as Michael Sam, the gay athlete; the gay football player," he told ESPN. "I want to be defined  ... Michael Sam, for being a great person with great character."

[Read more...]

A CONCUSSION I WISH I COULD FORGET

concussions

The moment is branded in my mind; the last memory of the night, one which almost ended my life.

[Read more...]

EXTRA POINT NEEDS EXTRA THOUGHT

Roger Goodell

No extra point? That's one item on the National Football League's agenda this off season.

[Read more...]

WHO CAN WE TRUST?

ped

The Alex Rodriguez story is dizzying. Following months of anticipation, Major League Baseball won the legal battle against Rodriguez. The decision: a 162-game suspension. But wait. Now Rodriguez is suing MLB, claiming the league arbitrator (Frederic Horowitz) was biased in his ruling.

So why do I feel embarrassed?

[Read more...]

GURNICK SNUBS MADDUX

maddux

Have you searched “Ken Gurnick” on Twitter today? The results are pretty rough:

[Read more...]