I am not a Selig hater. I would describe myself as a mild disliker of the man, but I think that it is only because of my contrarian nature that I choose not to hate a man so easy to hate. But anyway, Bud’s recent response to Bob Feller over the Muhammad Ali situation was just…well very irritating.
If you don’t know the story, here is the background. Muhammad Ali threw out the first pitch at Tuesday’s All-Star game. Ali is certainly a controversial figure. He openly avoided the draft, has made several anti-American statements, and has been associated with the Nation of Islam (although, I’m not sure of his current level of involvement with that organization). I find Ali’s fame to be annoying, not because of any of his political/religious actions, but because I don’t care much for loud-mouthed boxers. So to me, having Ali throw out the first pitch at the game is like having Air Supply sing the national anthem; I’m not particularly happy about it, but I’ll get over it as fast as the event ends. Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, on the other hand, was a bit more troubled. Feller is a veteran of WW II and didn’t care much for Ali’s presence.
“I object very strongly to Muhammad Ali being here to throw out the first pitch, and you can print that,” Feller was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s Boston Herald. “This is a man who changed his name and changed his religion so he wouldn’t have to serve his country, and, to me, that’s disgusting.”
“A man who turned his back on his country shouldn’t be honored this way,” Feller told the Herald.
“I protest his being here [at the All-Star Game],” Feller told the Herald. “I don’t like the message he sends out, and [Major League Baseball] shouldn’t have invited him.”
I’m perfectly fine with Feller’s sentiments, with which many Americans and MLB players agree. I think Feller ought to be commended for speaking up. However, Selig doesn’t seem to get it. Here is Selig’s response.
“Muhammad Ali is one of the sports legends of our generation,” Selig said before the game. “I don’t think that that’s valid criticism.”
Not valid! Is he serious? OJ Simpson is a sports legend, so should he be invited next year? I guess being a sports legend makes all criticisms by respected ballplayers invalid. What a jackass! Insulting Feller a second time isn’t the right thing to do here, Bud. All he had to say was something like, “Ali is a controversial figure in sports, like many players, but we are just happy to see a person who has successfully battled Parkinson’s disease stand up for all those who suffer from this awful affliction.” Then everybody is happy just to disagree. Instead, he calls Feller an idiot.
Selig wonders why he is so hated. If you can’t do the easy parts of the job right, why should anyone think you can handle the hard ones? And by the way, where is Selig’s little shill, George Will, on this one?