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Monday, January 10, 2005

One Hundred Year Drought?

USA Today has a follow-up piece on the Boston Red Sox final-out baseball fiasco, as does Off-Wing Opinion. On the same screen, next to the article, is a poll as to what fans think that BoSox 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, should do with the baseball. You will note that my prior suggestion (which, by the way, is most constructive and not graphic) is not one of the choices in the poll.

Which is too bad, because I believe that there is precedent for what I suggest (the article talks of the auction of the '86 ball to actor Charlie Sheen, but doesn't mention what Eric at Off-Wing Opinion did, which is that Mets' traveling secretary Arthur Richman gave the proceeds to charity). That doesn't seem to be in the cards, but a nasty fight might be.

The interesting thing about this controversy, however, is that given the Red Sox' demand that the ball be given back to them, you would think that as a matter of course all Series-ending balls end up with the home team's management and then sent to the Hall of Fame.

But if you thought that, you would be dead wrong. Or, to paraphrase Warner Wolf, if you thought that and took 100 years, you lose!

Because the last Series-ending ball that the Hall of Fame has in its possession is from the first World Series, in 1903. Where are the others? Click the links to find out, but Charlie Sheen has one, and so does Josh Beckett, who apparently keeps it in a glove under his bed.

And that's significant because in reading all of the articles about this controversy, a disinterested observer might have concluded that there was ample precedent for Major League Baseball, as it were, to take jurisdiction/title to the ball and then send it to the Hall of Fame because you might have inferred that all balls ended up in the Hall.

Except the exact opposite is true. In a game with a collective bargaining agreement the size of the Will and Ariel Durant series on the great philosophers and a rule book that is about as big as the instructions to program your average VCR, anarchy rules. Squatters' rights, perhaps? First-come, first-served? There are no rules on the subject (okay, so my erudite lawyer friends might say that common law should govern, but, then again, if the situation comes down to that, Major League Baseball would have lost, big-time).

So, while I'm not that sympathetic with either Mientkiewicz or with the Red Sox' management, the truth seems to be that there is no precedent for a baseball team to demand return of the ball. There may be legal arguments, though, but the Lords of Baseball should remember that they won't always win by being right 100% of the time. And, if they take Mientkiewicz (whose name is a nightmare for the average sports blogger to type) to the mat, then what of the people who have the balls from earlier Series-ending games (assuming, of course, that they're authenticated)? Will they pursue Josh Beckett, too?

That's why I'll stick with my original proposal, which I believe is a fair and just solution that will help baseball once again be an ambassador of good will.

Because, absent that solution, the situation could get very nasty. And it quickly could cause people to forget the wonderful things that happened in the ALCS and World Series last year.

It's just a ball, guys. And they come and go. But this World Series win, it should last forever.

Untarnished by intra-family squabbling.


Blogger RED said...

Sweet Blog man. i love what you have to say. Totally agree with ya. Come hit uo my blog. Let me know what you think please.

3:55 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Thanks, Red. I checked out your blog. You're off to a great start. Good luck.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy your site.

However, I believe that you are inaccurate about your comment about Princeton's 2 loss year. That year Princeton played AT North Carolina. It was part of a home and home series. If my memory serve me, North Carolina played at Jadwin the year before (the year, Princeton beat UCLA in the first round). Both games were very close.

Jerry H

7:04 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Jerry: Thanks for your comments. I will check Princeton's media guide regarding the point you raise. The game at Jadwin was a fun game, and I remember both Mitch Henderson's seemingly constant stripping of the ball from Serge Zwikker and Ed Cota's heroics down the stretch. It was a great atmosphere, and the game was fun to watch.

8:34 AM  
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