The funny thing is that as rarely as Boswell writes about MLB and the Nationals, based on this, I think he watches even less.
(As the 200 or so souls who still visit here most days know, I've already weighed in ad nauseum about the Dukes faux-flap from Wednesday, that Dukes's behavior was indeed boorish and rude, but is being totally blown out of proportion by a media biased in favor of sensationalism. That's not what this post is about.)
Here's how Boz describes the early-innings developments Wednesday:
Dukes responded to his homer by showing up the Mets, blowing a kiss toward their dugout. Basic "disrespect" isn't a new concept. In his next at-bat, the Mets brushed him back, as any team since 1869 would and should. Many pitchers would have thrown at his head. The Mets didn't.As Odalis Perez showed us after Chase Utley's Jack Tatum job on Jesus Flores, the retributive plunking is alive and well in MLB. But "many pitchers would have thrown at his head"?? Sorry, but maybe that was true of Bob Gibson 40 years ago. It probably hasn't been true that "most pitchers" would throw at someone's head for any reason since before WWII.
One standard doesn't fit all sports. In the NBA, trash talk and anything short of throat-slash gestures is colorful, part of the game. Fine. But just try blowing a kiss to Bill Belichick after you catch a scoring pass against the Patriots or mocking an NHL team as you skate past its bench.What game is he watching? On pretty much every single play all season there are antics on the field that far exceed a "blown kiss" in the NFL. Does he have any idea what NFL wide receivers do after catching a TD pass? (BTW--what's a "scoring pass?" Is that what Don Hutson used to get?) Blowing a kiss? Chad Ocho Cinco stages mock weddings! (BTW2, can someone please tell that guy that the Spanish words he's looking for are ochenta y cinco? But I digress.)
Terrell Owens can taunt a Redskins crowd to boo him louder and it's considered byplay. But, in baseball, players and fans are too close to one another for too many hours on too many days for players to think they can take on a city.
Ken Griffey Jr., hardly known as a show-boating jerk, did a throat-slash this very season, directed at broadcaster Jeff Brantley. It was such an outrage in MLB that it prompted a 124-word blurb in the next day's local paper.
Boz says baseball is different because the fans are closer. Really? Closer than the NBA? Hey Boz, you might remember seeing Jack Nicholson sitting courtside at Lakers games back in the 1980s. He's still there! Check out a game! Lots of games are on this new channel, TNT.
He concludes the column with this almost laughable fit of fuddy-duddy-ism:
But when he beats his chest after a walk-off walk, infuriating the pitcher, or glares at the home plate ump as his walk-off home run is still leaving the park, the Nationals' room grows darker.Um, Boz, have you ever seen Manny Ramirez admire a homer? Have you ever seen Frankie Rodriguez celebrate a save? You may have flipped on the highlights of a Barry Bonds homer or two over the last few years. He tends to celebrate a bit, and I guess you could throw at him to retaliate, but since he's wearing more body armor than a marine in Afghanistan it's not going to do much. Do you have any idea what passes for acceptable celebrations following a walk-off in MLB these days? Chest-beating is pretty tame stuff these days.
The choice is clear. Soon, Dukes has to grow up. Not totally, but enough. Adults adapt. Elijah, you have to be the one to change, because the game, like the world, never will.
You may not like it, but the game has changed. And it's gonna change more, my friend. Personally, I too could live without all this extra junk too, but it's all part of the culture now.
As for Dukes, you're wrong when you say he needs to stop "having nights such as Wednesday's when the combustible, immature traits that scarred his past, and made the Nats the only team that would touch him, come to the surface and make you fear for his future."
In today's game, he needs to stay out of jail. Period. If he starts doing this sort of thing more often he may wear out his welcome in DC and start churning through teams Jose Guillen / Milton Bradley-style. But he ain't going anywhere. Chicks dig the long ball, and he's got it. Unless he gets himself in some real, honest-to-goodness legal trouble, he's going to make a ton of money, and Bud Selig will keep his antics right where they are, drawing eyeballs to the park and columns from previously checked-out 'baseball writers.' Like it or not, old-timer.