Wait a Second!

No. 5 -- July 27, 1995

Ladies and Gentlemen (or, I suppose, after considering the actual readership of this column, Lady and Gentleman), I have a very important announcement to make: I'm putting my hat in the ring for Commissioner of Major League Baseball! Thank you. My official campaign slogan is "Like I could even hurt Baseball any more!" No, really, imagine the publicity if Baseball chose a complete obscurity like me for Commissioner over some of the big names (none of which I can remember right now) who have been touted for the job. Hey, it happened to Conan O'Brian, it could happen to me.

No, but seriously, Baseball needs a desperate publicity stunt like choosing a regular fan for Commissioner. And I would be a good commissioner, and I promise that I wouldn't suck up to that little troll Bud Selig, who is obviously aiming to go down in Ken Burns' Baseball sequel as The Man Who Killed Baseball. In fact, if I was a writer for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I'da already snuck that reference in as Commander Sisko and his son played a game on the holodeck . . .

"Dad, what was the name of that guy who killed Baseball again?"
"Selig, son, Bud Selig. You see, the owners drove up salaries and then complained that salaries were too high. They spoiled the players and didn't understand why the players acted like spoiled brats. Which they did, so much so that one writer pointed out that it was like choosing sides between Beavis and Butthead--"
"Dad, who are Bevis and Butthead??"
"Never mind, son. The point is that by the time of President Gingrich's second term, both leagues folded."

Let me tell you, there is already a special circle in Hell reserved for all of these people -- right next to the one already filling up with Disney marketing executives -- just for canceling the season and Series last year. And as Commissioner, the first thing I promise to do -- well, right after reinstating Pete Rose, for chrissakes -- is lock everybody involved in a room with an endless loop of Beavis and Butthead episodes until the they resolve their labor dispute with at least a 20-year agreement. After that, I'll quit, and we can all go back to watching the normal baseball news, like Darryl Strawberry's drug battles, Mark McGwire's injuries, Barry Bonds's divorce, Wade Boggs' sex life and Matt Williams' home runs.

Of course, Baseball Commissioner is obviously one of those jobs that is now Too Terrible To Take, like Surgeon General or Director of Planned Parenthood or President of the University of California.

Speaking of which, while I watching the big debate on Affirmative Action in the University of California, one of the regents cited the success of sports as an institution that thrived without affirmative action. All I could say was "huh?" I mean, let's forget the subtext ("let em play sports") for a second and concentrate really hard on where professional sports would be today without some kind of affirmative action.

I would be remiss without giving a great big goodbye to "Northern Exposure," which aired its final episode this week. (And which I missed, thanks to CBS -- Couldn't Be Stupider -- moving it all around just to make sure it was dead.) At its best, it was a good as any drama ever on TV. And when they won their first Emmy , they pointed out that they were really a comedy, which was actually true. It started as a weird cross between "Twin Peaks" (hey, remember "Twin Peaks??" ) and the usual fish-out-of-water story and completely developed its own unique rhythms and surrealistic tone. For that reason, it was perfect for 10:00 Monday nights, when the final transition from weekend to week had taken place, and unlike other dramas, it usually didn't send me into bed all depressed. And was there ever a more interesting TV relationship than Joel and Maggie? By not making it the focus of the show, they ended up making it the most important thing on the show. Yet, like real relationships, it was endlessly complex and not just based on one note, like 99.7% of all TV relationships.

Speaking of notes, here's a funny rock and roll story: So, a funny thing happened at the Goo Goo Dolls show at Slim's in San Francisco the other night: Near the end of their fine and energetic set, this kid decides to do the moronic thing and stage dive, bumping the Goo Goo's guitarist (say that fast five times), Johnny, in the process. After the song was over, Johnny yells "That dude scared the shit out of me!." Meanwhile, the Goo Goo's bass player, Robby, noticing that the kid had been fished out of the crowd and was in the process of being manhandled by one of the billy-goateed security guys, started yelling, "Hey, Stone Temple Pilots-looking security dude! Don't rough him up!" And with that, Robby tossed his bass to one side, and jumped off the side of the stage to confront the security guys to make sure they didn't kick the poor kid's ass.

After being assured that some form of Rodney King-ish justice wasn't being done, Robby came back onstage while Johnny introduced him by saying: "Ladies and gentlemen: Bono!" Robby then apologized for pulling a Bono, and pointed out that the kid just got overexicted and decided to do the punk rock thing "because that's what all the kids are into nowadays, the punk rock!" Then one of the kid's friends pointed out to the band it was the kid's 18th birthday, and Johnny and Robby started calling for the kid to be let back in, but to no avail, and that seemed to be that.

A couple of songs later, their set ended, and when they came back for the automatic encore, they brought the kid onstage with them. Robby marched the kid up to a mike and said "Say I'm sorry for being a dick back there,'" and after the kid said it (without a lot of conviction), Robby sat him on the "special birthday seat." Which just happened to be the front of the drum riser. Some punishment.

So while they did their first encore, the ballad-y guitar-and-bass-only "Two Days in February" (from my favorite Goo Dolls album, Hold Me Up, available in the used bins everywhere) the kid got to sit there on stage, and when they went into a comparitively fast and heavy part, Robby even motioned for him to stand up and go nuts, which he did, jumping and twisting all around like a maniac. In fact, the kid had learned so much humility for being tossed out of the show he even leapt towards to mike to boisterously yell "smoke weed!" while making the familiar forefinger-and-thumb-to-lips "taking a hit" symbol before finally being sent offstage for good.

And you wonder why I love live rock n' roll best of all.

This space is available for advertising. I am so ready to sell out to corporate America for some decent money. Even Major League Baseball. In fact, here, lemme practice:
The contents of this column are the sole property of Major League Baseball, and may not be rebroadcast or retransmitted without the express written consent of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Which would be me!!!! So it's ok.

Love,

     Jim

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This rant written on 27 July, 1995.
I was listening to Sugar -- Besides and
Hole -- My Beautiful Song as I wrote it.