|Wednesday, July 10
Even Bud didn't deserve this kind of torture
By Ray Ratto
Special to ESPN.com
Good evening, eternally damned viewers, and welcome to another edition of "Devil's Advocates." I'm your moderator, former Senator Joe McCarthy, and here on the panel with me this week are Torquemada, leader of the Spanish Inquisition; the former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin; and the man who helped fix the 1919 World Series, our sports expert Arnold Rothstein. Gentlemen, hello.
Rothstein: No question, Senator Joe. My research shows that whatever it is Bud did in his current life, or perhaps even in a previous one, it is hard to imagine a more obvious target for Mephistopheles.
Torquemada: But this week, Lucifer really pulled a beauty even by his standards. To take a mundane event like the All-Star Game, held in Bud's hometown, and turn it into a hideous travesty that ends in a tie and a near riot ... that is purest genius.
Amin: No question, and as someone familiar with torture, Tork old sock, you can surely appreciate the horrified look on Bud's face when his own fans were booing his ears off. I don't know that we've seen anything this perverse since the NBA All-Star Game in Oakland when the Golden State Warriors owner went down on the floor after the third quarter to give an award to Michael Jordan and was booed by the entire arena.
Torquemada: Ahh, but the devilish touch there, if you'll pardon the expression, is how they booed while Cohan's young son was standing next to him. Gloriously perverse, that.
McCarthy: No question, a moment of delicious horror. But the question I want to ask the panel is how much more of the Vile Overlord's attention does Selig deserve? There are surely far more evil figures on the planet, are there not?
Rothstein: Where do you want to start with that list? Boxing?
McCarthy: Ha ha ha, good one, Arn. But let's tackle this question. Selig has become a lightning rod for all the failings of a game that by any reasoned review of the facts is actually doing quite well. Everyone is making obscene amounts of money at the expense of fans who refuse to know any better -- and you don't get much more perverse than that -- but the game is perceived as doomed, bankrupt, corrupt and drug-riddled, and the man who catches that grief more than anyone else is Selig.
Rothstein: Well, he does have some of that coming, of course, along with a number of other figures. But I thought the All-Star Game was, and apologies here to The Dark Hand Of Eternal Death, well, kind of gratuitous. I mean, how many times do you want to pour molten lead in the poor man's wounds?
Torquemada: I always found that six was sufficient, but with the technological advancements Idi knows far better than I, it could be much higher.
Amin: Oh, yes. My own personal best was nine, which is why I am spending a thousand eternities being attacked by eye-pecking hawks.
Torquemada: And torture, after all, is most effective when it is aggressively administered to those who do not entirely deserve it.
McCarthy: Agreed, but is this a useful expenditure of Satan's time? Bud Selig is not inherently evil, and even his most aggressive earthly critics believe he is paying for his power, his opinions, his triumphs and his mistakes, all on the temporal plane.
Rothstein: Which is why I thought the All-Star Game thing, while gloriously creative, was a bit beneath Our Main Man. Selig has to sit in a room with Don Fehr, and Fehr with him, for weeks on end, which would be sufficient for Torquemada to put the hit spike to himself.
Torquemada: You aren't just whistling Armageddon there, Skippy.
McCarthy: So are you proposing that perhaps Beelzebub The Insistent should cut Selig a break?
Amin: Well, it comes close to being a parody of itself. I mean, I know less than a pound of brimstone about this baseball, but I watched this Selig fellow sitting in a stadium his own bankers built for him, being booed by the people for whom he brought the game to town, being treated like, well, like one of us, and I thought, enough is enough.
McCarthy: Well, almost, anyway. Otherwise, we'd have nothing to talk about here. So we're agreed ... a gruesomely amusing bit of theatre in Milwaukee, the first Ted Williams MVP award going to nobody, Bud Selig looking as doomed as our audience members ... but maybe he has completed his service to our black-hearted amusement.
Anyway, next week, we look at the furnishings being built here for the corporate leaders from Enron and WorldCom, and how the new tungsten-carbide claws of the Brazilian hell-bats will make their impression on those fellows when they get here. So for Idi, Arnie and Tork, I'm Joe McCarthy saying so long and until next time, remember, "We change no names, because here, nobody's innocent."
Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com.