MY 8-YEAR-old son, Alexander, begins his Little League baseball career this week. That, and the fact that the Tucson Toros are back in town, is about the only good baseball news I have to report.
Alexander is playing in the Amphi Little League. He's got a good stick, decent glove, great arm. And just like his old man, he gets bored silly after about five minutes if he's not pitching or batting.
When the team asked for team-name suggestions, I offered "Naked Bus Drivers," figuring that would still give the squad more dignity than anybody associated with major-league baseball, plus it would give the person who makes the team banner something to work with.
When that didn't fly, I came up with "Flaming Honkies," even though Alexander is Hispanic, albeit the palest one in the entire Northern Hemisphere. They politely declined, and then put me in charge of post-game refreshments. Big mistake.
Meanwhile the vile major leaguers are reporting to "training camp" as the eight-month-long strike has been...I don't know, un-struck for the time being. Every single person in major-league baseball is deserving of our total contempt.
What you had here was the simple matter of ostensibly adult people being unable to find a way for 700 people to share two billion dollars. A year! I hope they all choke on their money.
They had eight months to settle the thing, with plenty of money to go around, and they did absolutely nothing. Now they're back and nothing is settled. I honestly hate them.
And those "fans" who are going to support this folly by going back to the ballparks, I hope you get just what you deserve. Throw your money away, be treated to an exciting two-thirds of a season, then watch the assholes strike again in August in hopes that a court will reinstate the 1994 work rules yet again. They all suck.
As for the Tucson Toros, things are going along just fine. General Manager Mike Feder is still here, a fact to which every local baseball fan can rejoice. Feder promises another exciting season of Pacific Coast League baseball, with the usual non-stop promotions, special attractions and sideshows which have made the Toros one of the most successful minor-league franchises in America, as well as being one of the best entertainment buys in town.
The Toros, like all minor-league operations, had to proceed in a business-as-usual manner despite the turmoil around them. They held their spring training in Florida, then arrived in Tucson with the players holding the once-sweet dream of making it to The Big Show, even though that show has now become vulgar and poisoned with greed and stupidity.
The Toros have won two of the last four PCL championships and just missed out on a shot at a third last year when they faded in the last week of the regular season and were overtaken by the powerful Albuquerque Dukes.
Four players who participated in the aborted 1994 version of the Big "We-don't-want-no-stinkin'-World Series-this-season-and-screw the-fans-because-we're-not-happy-making-a-million-dollars-a-year" Show last year will be in the Toros' starting lineup tonight. Jerry Goff (who played for Pittsburgh), John Cangelosi (New York Mets), Mike Simms (Houston) and Mike Brumley (Oakland) are all back in the place where the salaries only have five digits instead of eight, all working hard to get back to The Land of the Three Extra Zeros.
Third-baseman Phil Nevin, the one-time top draft pick out of Cal State-Fullerton, is back from last year's Toros team, as are Frank Kellner, Scott Makerewicz, Dean Hartgraves, Ken Ramos, Ray Montgomery and Dave Hajek. Donne Wall will start on the mound for the Toros.
Get out and support the Toros. They're professional baseball players, that's true, but they haven't had their butts kissed enough yet to turn them into jerks. High praise, indeed.
Besides, you just have to get out to Hi Corbett to see what promotion Feder has cooked up for that particular night. I can't wait until Labor Day weekend, when he'll be holding the Bruce Wheeler-George Miller mayoral debates in between innings.
What's really cool is that the Toros will be playing in Phoenix that weekend.
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