The Masters begins today. Even before the first player addresses the ball on the first tee, there is some good news. Martha Burk is nowhere to be
heard; that means something is aligned properly somewhere in the universe. The 'Tune-a-mint' in Augusta is the first of the golf majors for the year
and Dan Jenkins once explained just how it became a 'major'. The other three 'majors' - US Open, British Open and PGA Championship - are all 'the
championship of something'. Some organizing entity declared that the winner of their tournament was their champion. Not the Masters. The Masters
according to Dan Jenkins 'became a major because it was the creation of Bobby Jones and because it was the first - and is still the best - of the
excusive invitational tournaments.' When it comes to golf, I'll take Dan Jenkins' pronouncements as authoritative.
Speaking of golf, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
'A golfer in Longwood, Fla., has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon Orlando's WKMG-TV reported, after he swung his club at
another golfer who wouldn't let him play through - he whiffed.
'Shouldn't that make it a missdemeanor?'
In the world of baseball, there are some non-news items that continue to get attention. Nomar Garciaparra is on the DL for the Dodgers. That would
have been news in 1999; for the last few years, Nomar has been on the DL more than he has been in the batter's box. This is surprising to the same
degree that it is surprising to hear that Mo Vaughn was fat.
And since I mentioned 'DL' and 'fat' in the same paragraph, let me also say that it is not news anymore to see CC Sabathia on the DL because of a
muscle pull in his abdomen. He's had that before; and while I have no idea if this incident involves the same muscle as the one that put him on the
shelf the last time, one has to think that carrying around that 'extra eight year old' around his waist can't make life any easier for those abdominal
muscles. Sabathia is a fine pitcher when he's right and maybe it's time for him to mix a few sit-ups and an occasional salad into his daily
Remember back to those glorious days of the World Baseball Classic when the thinking was that players in that event would have to be 'clean' to play
because Dick Pound and his super-sleuths from the World Anti-Doping Agency would be all over them like flies on a cowpie? Well, it seems as if all of
that was a mirage - or more malignantly a bunch of spin on a sordid situation. It now seems that WADA was not allowed to perform any unannounced drug
tests prior to the WBC and now it cannot determine if its rules were followed to any degree at all. MLB and the MLBPA ceded the authority to do such
testing to the International Baseball Federation who had an 'out-of-competition testing agreement' with WADA. Conveniently, the IBF allowed that
agreement to lapse in December 2005 and did not find the time or means to reinstate the agreement until after the WBC concluded. A few questions
1. Could the timing have been more serendipitous here?
2. Why was the normally shrill - and hardly shy - Dick Pound silent on this one until after the WBC ended?
3. To channel former Senator Howard Baker from Watergate days, what did Bud Selig and Donald Fehr know and when did they know it?
Once again, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has inserted his opinion into the world of sports; and once again, I find his views off the mark and
inconsequential. Rev. Jackson is complaining that MLB failed to provide security for Barry Bonds in that opening game in San Diego - the one where a
syringe was thrown onto the field. Let me make this as simple as possible here: If a fan were bound and determined to do harm - or worse - to Barry
Bonds during a baseball game and if that fan had any ingenuity at all, he would have plenty of opportunity to inflict that harm on Barry Bonds.
Absolute security in such a scenario is a phantasm at the very best. So, it would not be MLB's fault if some deranged fan were to try to inflict harm
on Barry Bonds any more than it was MLB's fault that some goofs in Chicago attacked an umpire there and a visiting first base coach there. Can they
increase security when the Giants are visiting a town? Sure. Can they work with local police to have more officers around the stands in the
outfield? Sure. Can they assure Barry Bonds' safety? No, they cannot. So someone needs to tell Rev. Jackson that he is in charge of providing that
security - without infringing on the rights of any other fans or citizenry of course - and that it will be his fault if anything goes wrong. I can't
wait to see Rev. Jackson do something about this instead of bloviating about it near a camera and microphone.
Look, if you go to see the Giants play baseball and you have purchased a ticket, I think you have purchased the privilege of heckling, chiding, and
trying to annoy Barry Bonds. I think it is perfectly all right for you to hold up signs and to chant just about anything you want - so long as you
are not overly offensive to the other folks who also purchased seats to the game and thereby purchased their privilege to watch a game without boorish
disruptions. There's a grey area there to be sure. However, as soon as anyone throws anything more substantial than a paper airplane onto the field,
I think they've crossed the line and should be ejected from the game immediately. It would depend on what they threw as to whether or not I would
want them arrested and/or charged with something. If the line is not drawn there - and if it is not drawn quickly - then every MLB team better take a
look at their schedule of promotions because they would not want to have the Giants as the visitors on 'Bat Day'; in a Wild West atmosphere, that
would be almost as bad as Disco Demolition Night.
Wait, perhaps there's a benign explanation here. Maybe that syringe tossed out onto the field was really MLB's unannounced drug test. And maybe the
guy who was there to take the sample had one too many chili dogs and realized he would be mightily indisposed and just tossed the syringe out there to
get it filled and he'd be around to pick it up later. It's even possible that the syringe was a follow-up exam by the aliens from Xygork Nebula to a
previous abduction of Barry Bonds. Maybe we'll hear about that event in his life in a later episode of Bonds on Bonds. But I don't think so...
I read somewhere - sorry, I don't recall where - that bottled water at Dodger Stadium this year will cost $8 a bottle. At that price, it ought to be
holy water. Imagine the shrieks of outrage if gasoline cost 10% as much...
Finally, an observation about the Marlins' opening day game in Houston from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
'The Marlins on Monday night started six rookies in the youngest, most inexperienced Opening Day lineup in the history of Major League Baseball, at
least dating to 1900. There were packages of sunflower seeds in the visiting dugout here. Some of the players were looking for directions.'
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...