Dead heat. No hero, no villain, no rooting interest. Just a clash of well-established knuckleheads.
Josh Donaldson, a provocateur who relishes getting under players’ skin regardless of its color, versus Tim Anderson, a self-inflated, attention-starved showboat — see last season’s “Field of Dreams” Yanks-White Sox game — who has already been sanctioned by MLB for making bad situations worse.
If only the Rob Manfred Regime of Rotten Decisions had been able to clearly read this hassle between reprobates and just let it go as a no-punches-thrown argument between recidivist jerks.
Instead, MLB seemed to determine that the tie be broken by race, thus inviting the derision of the fair-minded who have watched wrong versus right become a matter of black or white.
Donaldson has been a good-riddance teammate wherever he has played. He aggravates both teams simultaneously. He seems to enjoy making enemies and does well to satisfy his particular pursuit of happiness.
Anderson, last season fined $10,000 and suspended two games for bumping an umpire while exacerbating a benches-clearing hassle with the Tigers, has been eager to exceed the limits of sufferable.
He was fined and suspended for one game in 2019 when, during a White Sox-Royals on-field hassle, he called KC pitcher Brad Keller, who is white, a “weak-ass f—ing n—a!” Charming fellow, this Anderson.
But MLB this week chose to make extra ugly out of something it could have quietly, soberly and logically handled.
So now, with MLB’s help, if not urging, Donaldson is the latest socio-political victim punished for exercising his right to free speech by calling Anderson “Jackie,” a reference to Anderson’s forgotten, historically ignorant, even repugnant claim to be a latter-day Jackie Robinson.
But that Donaldson would persist in goading Anderson about it is telltale.
That doesn’t establish Anderson as another victim, real or wishful, of racist white America, yet MLB drew unwanted, unneeded and unwarranted racial lines.
Lost by MLB, perhaps intentionally, is that both men are equals — equally foolish, equally to blame for repetitive misconduct.
MLB doesn’t learn. It can’t take care of baseball, yet it pretends to know what’s best for the country.
Its decision to move last season’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in support of unspecified political claims that Georgia’s new voting legislation is racist, disproportionally targeting black voters, was a thoughtless and needless Manfred-led blunder.
For starters, Atlanta, 50 percent black, was deprived the fruits of revenue that such a game brings. MLB transferred the game to predominantly white Denver. Pure genius.
Second, nothing in that legislation even hinted as discriminatory. To the contrary, it seemed to make voting in Georgia easier for all. This week, Georgia primary voting among Democrats and Republicans showed huge gains in turnout from pre-pandemic numbers.
Having deprived Atlanta of last year’s All-Star Game, we’re yet to hear from Manfred on this. MLB’s social and political grandstanding, pandering and empty-headed none-of-its-business bad-business decision has been relegated to the Remember To Forget file.
Back to Anderson versus Donaldson: Manfred had an option of his own making, one that makes as much curative sense: Just have each player start the 10th inning as the automatic runner on second base. That’s how MLB now settles matters.
Tierney made right call in declining O’Neill ‘interview’
This Brandon Tierney-Paul O’Neill WFAN interview tempest — O’Neill wanted to sell his new book, not answer any questions about the Josh Donaldson-Tim Anderson matter — reminds me of those celebrated career journalists on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and their capitulation to Team Tiger Woods.
In 2006, just before the Masters on CBS and coinciding with the release of Tiger Woods’ father’s book from CBS’s publishing arm, “60 Minutes” promoted an exclusive, two-parts interview the late Ed Bradley conducted with Tiger Woods. Pitched as “Tiger, as you’ve never seen him,” the chats were exactly as we’d always seen and heard him.
They were fawning, mutual-grinning, candy-coated sessions. On top of the Masters and book sell, it all stunk like a tank job, and I wrote just that.
Word then reached me from attendees of an ESPN symposium at which the famous lead inquisitor of “60 Minutes,” the late Mike Wallace, had, for a fee, spoken. Specifically asked about that Woods exclusive, Wallace admitted that CBS had taken a dive to land it. I wrote that, too.
Livid and cursing, Wallace called me, furious that “a little bleep like you,” should write such a lie about him. But I had the transcript of his ESPN session. Wallace told his audience “There was an understanding going in” that certain questions of Woods were forbidden. Oh.
Suddenly Wallace had to go. He hung up on this little bleep.
Tierney did the right thing. Imagine having O’Neill on right after that “Jackie” episode and not asking him about it. As for O’Neill, the best way to sell a book is to buy an ad.
ESPN’s graphic desecration of NHL
I know, it’s ESPN, where anything worth doing is worth overdoing. But for the love of Gump Worsley, is common sense ever applied to game telecasts?
Game 4 of Hurricanes-Rangers, Tuesday, close game, live, intense play on. Yet ESPN constantly posted needless, distracting graphics along the top.
Why would ESPN want us to divert our attention to read something — anything — rather than watch live action in close Stanley Cup playoff games? At 0-0 and the puck in play, why would we choose to read the ’Canes’ Jordan Staal’s faceoff stats?
Never mind, it’s ESPN. It would have been in a split screen when the Hindenburg exploded.
Good show-and-tell insert on Saturday’s Mets-Rockies. SNY rover Steve Gelbs noticed Mets pitcher Adam Ottavino exercising in the outfield before the game in his bare feet, adding that Ottavino told him he has long done so.
Keith Hernandez, proud practitioner of the good life, next said that the only place anyone would find him barefooted is on a beach “in Turks and Caicos.”
Joe Pignatano, Brooklyn-made big league catcher who found fame and fertilizer as a Mets coach in the 1960s, died this week at 92. “Piggy” was a kind, uncomplicated soul fondly recalled for growing tomatoes in the Shea Stadium bullpen. I suspect many of us had an uncle just like him.
Unintended Replay Madness, continued: Monday’s Panthers-Lightning was stopped, cold, for nearly 10 minutes to try to determine if a puck went out of play. Action sport needlessly unplugged. What else is on?
Question for CBS’s Dottie Pepper and Ian Baker-Finch: Who on the PGA Tour is not “a good striker of the golf ball”?
Reader/author Doug Branch suggests there’s no more aptly named player than Giants catcher Joey Bart. In San Francisco, the Bay Area Rapid Transit is known as The BART.
I still prefer John Flaherty’s alert but easygoing, no word-gimmicks, easy-on-the-stats approach to the other 75 Yankee broadcasters now heard on YES. Flaherty wears well over three-plus hours. But given YES’s hires, that likely makes him expendable.
Still can’t believe Tiger Woods quit after three rounds of a major. He’d said he wouldn’t be there “if I didn’t think I could win.” Heck, at the time he bolted, CBS had him listed first among those 21 back!