I am still sorting out my feelings on a couple of topics these days, and neither has anything to do with who should be the next President or how the Patriots should rank in terms of all-time NFL powers since the Super Bowl got away from them.
In doing some weekend channel surfing, I came across the Caribbean World Series. It is a visual delight to these baseball-anxious eyes because it is real, live baseball in the early days of February. And it continues for another 2-3 days as the four teams play what I understand to be a double round-robin (six games for each team).
Wouldn't you know, the first player with Independent Baseball time on his resume that I saw was Jose Offerman, DHing for Licey, one of the Dominican Republic's two entries.
Now you probably know one of subjects where I have mixed feelings. By all accounts, Offerman has been a gentleman and certainly a very decent player during a career that is entering its 21st season. He has played 1,651 major league games with seven teams, starting with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1990 and most recently in 53 games with the New York Mets in 2005.
Then came that terrible night last August 14 when Offerman, playing in an Atlantic League game for the Long Island (NY) Ducks, went to the mound in a bat-swinging mood after being hit by a pitch. Two players were injured, and one may never play again. The Connecticut Post, the hometown newspaper of the host Bridgeport Bluefish, rated the incident its No. 1 sports story of the entire year.
Two counts of second-degree assault led to a late October appearance in Bridgeport Superior Court where Offerman received two years probation and accelerated rehabilitation and was ordered to attend anger management classes and pay toward the injuries.
"I would like to apologize to all the fans that were at the stadium that day, especially the children," The Post quoted Offerman during his court appearance. "I embarrassed the game I love and I wish I could take it all back."
The incident was touched upon during the Caribbean World Series telecast by the father-son broadcast team of Cookie and Victor Rojas, too. Stories of such an ugly nature do not go away quickly.
Should Offerman get another baseball opportunity at some point because he has been a good guy during his lengthy career? Obviously, the Dominican League has given its native son a new chance and now the Caribbean World Series moguls have said it is okay for the 39-year-old to continue playing.
It is a tough subject.
The other dilemma is not from such a heavy topic. The St. Paul Saints, whose fun-loving antics have helped them arguably continue as the best known of all Independent Baseball teams, are at it again.
They had planned a "retirement party" for Commissioner Bud Selig this July. But the Commish, who makes nearly as many millions as the game's top tier of players, recently accepted an extension which will keep him in office through 2012. Never mind, the retirement party still will be held in Minnesota July 15, the same night as the major league All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
The Saints already have had, among other events, a night in which they gave away neckties with a caricature of Selig right after the All-Star Game ended in an embarrassing tie since the teams were out of pitching. And last summer they staged an event ESPN The Magazine called the Promotion of the Year. Those playful Saints gave fans a choice of being "suspendered". They could be probed, mythically speaking, by Senator George Mitchell, who was in charge of baseball's steroids investigation, or a receiving suspenders with Selig's likeness.
Good fun, I guess, but after working for a couple of commissioners for more than a decade, I like to see the game's top boss treated somewhat kindly, even though he did postpone his retirement.
Monday, February 04, 2008
FACING MY DILEMMAS
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.