Hall of Fame votes for PED cheaters destroys public’s trust in MLB

The late humorist Jean Shepard — his show heard here for years over WOR-Radio — often quoted from a sign that appeared over a bar in his hometown of Hammond, Ind.:

“In God we trust. All others pay cash.”

Trust, especially the public’s trust, is too fleeting and precious to be toyed with. Once one’s integrity is compromised, how is it restored?

In the case of the media’s Baseball Hall of Fame voters, we’ve seen considerable support for the drug-enhanced superstars who brought disrepute to The Game during the Bud Selig years. That support persists as a matter of wishful rationalizations and “Get over it, already” revisionism.

A two-time drug cheat and shameless liar such as Alex Rodriguez, for example, receives votes for enshrinement for reasons other than that he was innocent.

Whatever the reason for the unnaturally middle-age muscled players who began to smash home runs when previous sluggers were at their natural ends, how do these forgiving or forgetting media now approach their duties as journalists?

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What if those who voted their Hall of Fame approval for a Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa today find credible evidence of a current star who is illegally juiced?

Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds
Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds
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Having already determined that the drug-enabled meet with their standard for Hall of Fame inclusion, would they pursue the story or ignore it as a matter of no-big-deal in service to their compromised voting position?

Would they serve the public’s trust as journalists? Or would they whistle while kicking their own cans down the road?

Recently, MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds threw some jabs at the MLBPA in view of the owners’ lockout. Fine.

But is his an opinion of an independent, unfettered observer, or should we consider his opinion worthless as an employee of a network primarily owned by MLB?

Consider the recent ouster of valued MLB Network contributor Ken Rosenthal, also a Fox MLB regular, ostensibly for having taken one too many swings at commissioner Rob Manfred.

Has that created a chill — a deterrent — throughout MLBN? How could it not?

Whose side are the media on? The players’? The owners’? Their own?

To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

NY Times tennis guy keeps bringing up rear

During this year’s Australian Open, New York Times tennis correspondent Ben Rothenberg made a jackass of himself.

After Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis won the men’s doubles championship, Rothenberg, during the media conference, asked Kokkinakis, “Does Nick touch your butt as much as he does when you are not on the court together?”

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios celebrate their men's doubles victory.
Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios celebrate their men’s doubles victory.
Ella Ling/Shutterstock

Rothenberg, clever fool, was referring to position-signaling to one’s partner via behind-the-back hand signals. The childish question inspired groans and ridicule.

You may recall that Rothenberg’s professional judgments have been written about before, here.

Covering the 2017 Australian Open for The Times, he recklessly tweeted that 10-year ESPN tennis analyst Doug Adler had just racially slurred Venus Williams by calling her “a gorilla.”

Clearly, Adler did not such thing. As you may have read here before, Adler had complimented Williams for her “guerrilla effect” of suddenly charging the net, an offshoot of the common term “guerilla tactics.”

Yet ESPN, frightened gutless, swallowed Rothenberg’s claim whole, summarily firing Adler, destroying his career and reputation.

To this day, Rothenberg insists that Adler, on ESPN, called Williams “a gorilla,” a malicious life-ruining falsehood that no one — not in tennis, not at The Times, not at ESPN — has shown the courage or conscience to correct. As Rothenberg carries on.

What, exactly, did TNT find so appealing about active NBA player Draymond Green that it signed him to a multi-year deal to join the network’s “Inside the NBA”?

An educated guess based on modern criteria: Green is among the worst acts in NBA history. He has been ejected from 12 games, suspended three times and fined, at last count, roughly $750,000. And he’s an inveterate talker of trash — and worse.

So TNT had to sign him before ESPN did.

That’s what it now takes to zip to the head of TV’s hiring wish-lists.

You’re known for superior achievement as a dignified, even gentlemanly performer? Get lost, fool! We don’t hire your kind!

Bill Fitch, among my favorites, died Wednesday at age 89.

He coached the Celtics in the spring of 1980, when I covered the Jersey Nets in Piscataway. It was NCAA Tournament time, and I was asked by sports editor Greg Gallo to solicit Final 2 picks for listing in a just-for-fun feature.

Bill Fitch speaks with Larry Bird.
Bill Fitch speaks with Larry Bird.
Getty Images

The Celts had beaten the Nets when I entered the visitors’ locker room. I asked first Dave Cowens, then Pete Maravich for their picks, not their social security numbers. But both told me to take a bleepin’ hippity-flippin’ hike.

Fitch watched the scene then stopped me as I left the locker room, ticked off. With a thin smile he said, “Now you see what I have to put up with every day.”

Maybe Williamses not popular?

Why has “King Richard,” the critically heralded movie about tennis’ Williams family, starring Will Smith, been a colossal box office bust?

Here’s my guess: Despite what the media and TV commercials sell and tell us, we don’t all love Serena Williams. Many have watched her real-life, self-entitled, boorish, threatening, bad-loser and even vulgar on-court act. And they don’t like it.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams
Getty Images

The human condition may have doomed that movie from even before its start.

Or maybe it’s the pandemic? Guess it could be the pandemic.

Will we ever witness the day ESPN returns as a sports network? It seems every telecast is attached to moralizing, politicizing, virtues-are-us social-engineering, unwanted gimmickry.

Will ESPN ever allow us to just watch, no dogmatic strings attached? Allow us to try to enjoy the games it owns?

As if burdened by a guilty conscience, ESPN has announced that an entire NBA telecast will be called, produced, shot and supported by an all-women crew!

Well, that should placate the hundreds of thousands of subscribers who demanded such — as opposed to just wanting to watch the game.

But there will not be even one Estonian woman among the crew! What does ESPN have against Estonians?

Brilliant plan: Eliminate the best available people to exploit a game for cheap, shallow — and discriminatory — look-at-us social grandstanding. How do you awaken the woke? Enough, already!

Watching the Olympics as televised from Red China has been kind of creepy. Don’t know if I’m watching them or they’re watching me.

The men’s U.S. National Soccer Team last week hosted Honduras in a World Cup qualifier played at night in minus-14-degree windchill in Minneapolis. Roger Goodell couldn’t make it. Too cold.

Wind chill reached -14 during USA-Honduras

If Kyrie Irving, like mask-less Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti at last Sunday’s Rams game, just held his breath during Nets home games …

Tony Romo has violated the terms of his $180 million (or so) CBS contract. Last Sunday, during 49ers-Rams, he said a receiver “jumped” for the ball rather than tried to “high-point it.”

Is the Phil Mickelson who last week said the PGA is infested with “obnoxious greed” the same Phil Mickelson who was ordered to repay $1 million in an insider trading scheme?

President Biden has told the Buccaneers they must replace Tom Brady with a minority female.

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