Thursday, April 8, 2021

Kick 'Em When They're Down

Which I guess you could say this entry does for the hapless Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Major League Baseball. The other day I made fun of his decision to move the 2021 All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver because of uproar claiming Georgia's new voting law is designed to suppress minority turnout. I suggested that it was another in a line of lunk-headed moves by the men given the authority to act "in the best interests of baseball" but who aren't alway smart enough to do so.

I didn't list Bowie Kuhn, but it turns out that Manfred will in his way follow one of Kuhn's clearest blunders. Hank Aaron started the 1974 season with 713 home runs, one shy of Babe Ruth's career record. But his Atlanta Braves started the season on the road, meaning Aaron might very well set the new mark outside his team's home field. Braves staff wanted to sit Aaron for that first series, but Kuhn ordered him to play at least two of the three games. Aaron tied the record on the road but did break it at home -- only to be given his commemorative watch by a representative from the commissioner's office, Monte Irvin. Kuhn himself wasn't at the game, citing a previous engagement.

Earlier this year, Hammerin' Hank departed this life. almost certainly bound for the celestial Hall of Fame his longtime Catholic faith promised him. Which means that this year's All-Star game could have been an occasion to celebrate one of baseball's most elegant, dignified and honorable men, who never responded with hate to the flood of racist mail drawn by his pursuit of Ruth's record. It could have been, but as commissioners of major league baseball seem to have a habit of doing, Rob Manfred thought something else was more important than honoring and respecting Hank Aaron.

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