Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and the High Price of Irony, by Mike Gold
Last Thursday, Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year contract in excess of a quarter billion dollars that allows him to continue working for the New York Yankees, a team about which, in the interest of full disclosure, I couldn’t care less. A couple hours later, the government indicted San Francisco Giants player Barry Bonds for lying to a grand jury.
That’s a nice slice of irony. When Rodriguez “quit” the Yankees he announced his decision during the final game of the World Series, effectively destroying the momentum of the business’s most holy event – particularly if you’re from Boston. Still, it was bad form and I enjoyed seeing those chickens come home.
So now A-Rod (not to be confused with L-Ron or Kal-El) gets a nice locker at the new Yankee Stadium. But what goes around comes around and then goes around again: part of Rodriquez’s deal is that he gets all kinds of bonuses for accomplishing major feats that will inure to the financial benefit of his employer. Among these is breaking Barry Bonds’ home run record. I love irony.
That’s just become a whole lot easier. Bonds is without a contract and is now, effectively, unemployable. Like Willie Mays, he’s now standing still and breaking his record is much easier. Not that A-Rod doesn’t already have enough money to buy Mongo air-turf from Prince Vulcan, but still, we probably won’t have to worry about asterisks for very long.
While still wallowing in the synchronicities of irony, I listened to Dave Ross’s editorial on CBS Radio. Dave pointed out that Bonds is over 18 and if he wants to pump dangerous drugs into his veins, that’s his right. Dave lives in Seattle; they think like that up there. If it violates the rules of Major League Baseball, that’s the business of Major League Baseball and not our courts. He lied to a grand jury in 2003? It didn’t physically harm anybody except himself and gamblers. If a grand jury looked into lies that actually harmed people in 2003, Dave pointed out, they wouldn’t have any problem finding people to indict.
As much as I appreciate the ironies, I think that’s true. Mind you, I also view the 1919 Black Sox scandal as a “labor action,” which is probably why I haven’t written sports professionally for 39 years.
I know: somebody’s going to do CPR on that tired old canard, “role models for the children.” To quote Col. Sherman T. Potter, horse hockey. Base Ruth was a fat, drunken, wife-abandoning philanderer and nobody bitched about his impact on our nation’s youth. Ty Cobb and Charles Lindberg and Walt Disney were all world-class bigots and they were role models in their time; by and large Lindberg and Disney still are.
I know: somebody’s going to complain about how much money A-Rod and/or Bonds are making and cast them in a negative light accordingly. Well, I respectfully (maybe not; depends on your argument) disagree. Entertainers have the right to negotiate for whatever they can get. Ballplayers, actors, comic book artists. Doesn’t matter what they do. Better the people who produce the good stuff get their fair share of the pie off of Corporate America and, no, they are not taking a single chicken wing out of the mouths of teachers, fire fighters, or philosophy majors. We could – and should – double the salaries of each of these types of folks, but not a single penny would come out of the pockets of the Steinbrunner family that is, instead, going to Alex Rodriguez.
Baseball fans are a lot like comics fans. Both are important elements of the Great American Culture, and both attract a lot of irony mojo.
That’s what keeps ‘em fun.
Mike Gold is editor-in-chief of ComicMix.