Just a few short months after Major League Baseball narrowly averted committing professional suicide, this year's baseball season has already started off with a resounding thud. The Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners were supposed to play a two-game series in Japan to get the season off to a rousing start, but the series was cancelled because George W. Bush was invading Iraq.
It wasn't cancelled by the Japanese in protest of the invasion. Rather, it was the baseball players themselves who backed out, citing safety concerns.
It's long been known that today's baseball player is a self-absorbed, greedy lout with absolutely no understanding or appreciation of the game's storied past. But now we learn that they're not only morons when it comes to history, they're also complete idiots on the subject of geography. What, did they think the war in a place where Europe, Asia and Africa all come together was somehow going to spill over into Japan? According to that logic (and you'll pardon my application of the term to people who are almost maniacally illogical), if I were to read that Kmart is in bankruptcy, I shouldn't go shopping at Walgreen's.
One player said that he was concerned about possible terrorist activity on foreign soil. Gee, yet another class he would fail. No link has been established between Iraq and terrorism. And even if there had been, I don't think anybody would argue that, because of our free and open society, there are probably more al-Qaeda operatives and potential terrorists walking around in the United States than in any other country in the world. Plus, the authorities in Japan are a lot stricter and harsher in their methods of (ahem) law enforcement. Heck, they'll bust you if your shoes aren't tied correctly. There's no way they were going to let something happen to Ichiro Suzuki or any of his teammates.
So, Americans look stupid again (sort of a theme in the Bush II era). The Japanese had spent more than a year planning for the series, and MLB has promised that they'll try to set it up for next year. It should be OK, unless maybe if somebody from Zimbabwe says something bad about the United States and Bush decides to retaliate by attacking Finland.
The word is that MLB will try to set up a Seattle Mariners-New York Yankees series next year. Oh yeah, that'll go a long way to repairing hurt feelings--send them George Steinbrenner.
In that wacky world of diplomacy and measured responses, after America backed out of the baseball thing, Japan announced that they will probably cancel two exhibition soccer games in the United States this week. The Japanese team was supposed to play Uruguay in San Diego and the U.S. team in Seattle, but now they're probably not coming. That's a punishment?! That's like the Japanese saying, "You kidnapped our girlfriend, Elizabeth Hurley, so, in retaliation, we're not going to let you get that root canal you had scheduled."
Speaking of measured responses, can you imagine what's going to happen if Bush is asked to throw out the first pitch this season? He'll probably throw two dozen baseballs, 10 exploding golf balls, three shot puts, and a watermelon. Then he'll have a B-52 fly over and drop the Mother Of All Baseballs. Afterwards, he'll say something about "shock and awe," because those are the biggest words he knows.
Actually, Bush has a long-standing association with baseball. His dad played baseball at Yale. And, back in his drinking days, Bush the Younger reportedly got to second base with lots of young floozies. Then, after several of Dubya's business ventures went belly-up, our prez's daddy hooked him up with his own by-golly baseball team, the Texas Rangers.
Actually, I'm thinking that we should try to get George W. Bush back in baseball on a semi-permanent basis. Baseball has shown itself to be the cockroach of sports--virtually indestructible. It has survived a near-complete lack of interest among black Americans, incredibly self-destructive fiscal policies and the emergence of marquee players who are among the least-likable people in the history of sports. What harm could Bush do to the game?
The biggest changes that might occur if Bush were to become Commissioner of Baseball would include:
· The character played by Tim Robbins in Bull Durham would be hereafter referred to as "Nuke-you-lar LaLoosh."
· The Dodgers would have to be sold because of the horrible Sandy Koufax snafu during the off-season. (The New York Post, which is owned by the Prince of Evil, Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Dodgers, ran an item in a gossip column strongly hinting that Koufax was gay. Not that it matters, but if he wants to keep his private life private, he has that right. Koufax responded by severing all ties with the Dodgers, which is a real shame.)
Bush could declare war on Murdoch, the Australian media magnate who is poisoning our airwaves on a daily basis with his vulgar Fox News network. After he's done, Bush could declare, "I sent that Aussie back to Vienna."
· Bush could insist that the music played between innings at all major-league ballparks include OutKast's "Bombs Over Baghdad."
· He could tinker with baseball's anti-trust status and mess with the union knowing that he has the Supreme Court in his back pocket.
· Of course, the best thing about Bush being commissioner of baseball would be that he would no longer be president. Play ball.