Word to The Man:
Post-Dispatch sources in Washington confirmed that Musial will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the White House. Musial will join other baseball greats who have won the award like Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Ted Williams. The award recipients are selected by the sitting president.
And some of you hate Obama.
This is really cool. It arises in large part due to a grassroots campaign, but even if no one had ever made a peep about it, Musial would be a worthy recipient. Not just because he was one of the most fantastic baseball players who has ever lived, but also because he, more than just about anyone, stands for the notion that a sports figure can be a role model, even if we are increasingly inclined to reject that notion. He has always been reported to be kind, decent, caring, hard working and all of the other things we wish athletes were, but usually aren’t due to their being, you know, human beings. He has given back to his community. He may truly be the last untarnished icon in baseball history. We’re just not in that business anymore. Him. Aaron maybe. Everyone else is either a bit tarnished or not an icon.
I had one brief interaction with Musial when I was a kid. It was at a memorabilia show where he was signing. My dad knew the guy running the show, so I got in early and was there when Musial showed up. When he arrived — by himself, after having driven in, not with any handlers — someone asked him if he wanted anything. Nope, I’m good, he said, don’t trouble yourself. Then he set up the table and chair where he’d be signing himself, got himself a Pepsi from a vending machine and then hung around and talked to my brother and I for a bit while waiting for the autograph-seekers to arrive. The guy was like your grandpa. The nice one.
I don’t know if that kind of thing earns you a Presidential Medal of Freedom, but it sure as hell can’t hurt. Congratulations Stan the Man.
As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.
We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.
James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:
Spring training is less than a month away, folks!
Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”
Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.
You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.
Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.
The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”
Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.
This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.