Sports Line by Paul Levine...
It's almost the mid-season point in Major League Baseball, so let's talk about the National Pastime. Or ex-pastime. Everyone knows that cage fighting is the new baseball. And baseball is the new geriatrics.
Okay, let me state my credentials. I have not watched a complete baseball game all season, and I didn't like Manny Ramirez, even before he was caught taking female hormones or peeking into the locker room of the L.A. Temptation of the Lingerie Football League.
Let's start with steroids. I agree with Zev Chafets' New York Times think piece that players linked to steroid use ought not be excluded from the Hall of Fame. Questionable supplements have long been part of the game, though admittedly in limited use. Mickey Mantle was injected with a mix of speed and testosterone during the 1961 home run race with Roger Maris. Ted Williams occasionally ducked across the street from Fenway (during a game!) for chocolate milkshakes.
The Hall of Fame is not sacrosanct. As Chafets notes, it started as a tourist attraction. Is the Hockey Hall of Fame holy place? Oh wait! It is...at least in French where it's called Temple de la renommée du hockey and is located in Toronto.
Steroid use is (or was) rampant. Should the best of that era be banned? Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire and others.
As they say in Toronto, au contraire, which loosely translates as, "if you disagree, I shall punch you in the nez.
Some people think that there should be an asterisk in the record book noting that this generation's Hall of Famers played in the Steroid Era. To which, I say, absurde! What record book? Have you ever seen it? Hah! Who has it? Bud-Lite Selig? Leo Durocher?
LET'S SPEED UP THE GAME: If I were king of baseball, I would:
1. Limit the time allowed between pitches to 20 seconds and call a ball for a "late pitch."
2. Shorten the game to 7 innings because we have better things to do.
3. Extra innings would start with the bases loaded, similar to college football overtimes with the ball on the opponent's twenty-five yard line.
4. Neither the manager nor the pitching coach nor the pitcher's mother would be allowed to stroll to the mound in the middle of a game. The catcher may visit the pitcher, but he can only stay 30 seconds or the time it takes to adjust his protective cup, whichever is shorter. (I am opposed to all stoppages of play in crucial situations. I would ban timeouts in the last two minutes of NBA games, but that's a story for another day).
5. There'd be no infield fly rule, because a batter's lousy pop-up should be penalized with a possible double play, which is only fair, since well-hit grounders often turn into DP's.
6. Managers who are unshaven...
will not be permitted to wear the team's uniform. Come to think of it, NO MANAGER should wear a uniform. How would Joe Paterno look in a Penn State football uniform? Managers should dress in a dark suit and hat, as did Connie Mack who managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 years.
7. If the American League has a Designated Hitter, an abomination, the National League should be permitted a Designated Steroid User.
AND SPEAKING OF STEROIDS: With or without banned substances, would anyone ever equal Barry Bonds' juiced 2001 season in which he hit more home runs (73) than singles (49) and recorded a record slugging percentage of .863, a .515on-base percentage, and a record 177 walks. His .328 batting average and 137 RBI's seem almost an afterthought. Wait! There's someone who might be able to do it. Now batting, Albert Pujols.
AMAZING BASEBALL FACTOID: This season, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals is 6 for 7 with the bases loaded with 4 grand-slams. Sacre Bleu!
THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU! Moving from baseball to ice cream, a smooth segue, if ever I saw one, I taste tested three brands for you. Dreyer's Slow-Churned low fat French Vanilla. (Marketed on the East Coast as Edy's). Haagen Dazs Mango and McConnell's Turkish Coffee. (Lots of Fat). McConnell's is a small company in Santa Barbara, whose ice cream was named best in the country by Time magazine. (Time named Adolph Hitler as Man-of-the-Year in 1938, so I'm not sure what they know about ice cream). The verdict: They're all damn good.
LT. COL. KENNETH REUSSER OBIT: Last Saturday, July 4, the Los Angeles Times published the obituary of famed Marine pilot Kenneth Reusser, who flew 253 combat missions in 3 wars: WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He was shot down five times and died in Oregon last week at 89.
Let me repeat that: 253 missions! Three wars! Five times shot out of the sky!
My father flew 16 missions in a B-29 before being shot down over Japan in 1945. If he were alive today and he read Reusser's obit, Stan Levine would have said, "lucky son-of-a-gun," and would have meant it as a compliment.
We salute the brave Marine.
FINALLY...WOULD EVERYONE WHO IS TIRED OF MICHAEL JACKSON COVERAGE PLEASE RAISE YOUR HAND. Thank you.