s
s
Sections
Sections
Search
Subscribe

Augusta National tops pet-peeve list


Retirement might be on the horizon. Some friends have asked what's the plan? Maybe a daily blog called Grouchy Old Man. This column might be a rehearsal, a list of current pet peeves that just can't be repressed any longer.

Augusta National takes a tentative step away from the 19th century.

Sorry, but some of us here in the real world shake our heads in disgusted amazement over 1.) the Confederate home of golf's precious Masters tournament admitting females to their prissy private club a mere 92 years after passage of the 19th Amendment, itself some 131 years tardy; and 2.) the two women admitted, while type-A super achievers, are hardly progressive role models, especially former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. As national security adviser to President George W. Bush in 2003, Rice did her boss' bidding with her infamous "mushroom cloud" fear mongering as part of the drumbeat in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, resulting in hundreds of thousands of lives subsequently damaged or lost.

Augusta National makes the Boston Red Sox (last major-league team to racially integrate, in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson's historic debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers and three years after his retirement) look like the ACLU.

Instead of headlines proclaiming wondrous social progress over Augusta National's pathetically belated decision, there should have been headlines screaming these three words: IT'S ABOUT TIME. Or these four: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE.

The fuss over preseason NFL games.

Newspapers and sports talk radio promote and dissect each team's summer workouts and practices and then really shift into overdrive for exhibition games, games (it should go without saying, shouldn't it?) that don't count.

You may have seen this breathless prose or heard these profound words from the sports media: "Peyton Manning made his Denver Broncos' debut," and "Andrew Luck made his NFL debut with the Indianapolis Colts."

Well, here's some breaking news: Peyton Manning will make his debut with the Broncos when he plays a real game with the Broncos; ditto Andrew Luck and the Colts and Robert Griffin III with the Redskins.

Received wisdom, courtesy of baseball commissioner Bud Selig and, once again, the mainstream sports media, informing us that the performance enhancing drug era is over.

Really? Last year's National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun was caught cheating, then got off on a technicality. And earlier this month NL leading batter Melky Cabrera tested positive. Last week it was 10-game winner Bartolo Colon. These are high-profile players. So, if they're doing it ...

Then Victor Conte of BALCO infamy emerged on Bay Area TV to tell us how relatively easy it is for players to beat MLB's drug testing.

Sounds like the era isn't over. It's merely gotten a new sheen of denial by the sport's caretakers.

Pitch-count obsession.

Nobody admires and appreciates the Giants broadcast team — Jon Miller, Dave Flemming, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow — more than I do. Nobody has considered himself more blessed to have been in the Bay Area for the past 40 years, thereby having also experienced the pleasure of listening to Lon Simmons, Bill King and Hank Greenwald, extemporaneous jazz-like artists of sports play-by-play.

But what's up with the obsession over the number of pitches thrown? Yes, we get it. It's a relatively important statistic, and one that was absent from play-by-play descriptions heard by anyone who grew up listening to Russ Hodges (Giants), Vin Scully (Dodgers, still at it at 84) and Mel Allen (Yankees). It's a stat that lets you know whether a pitcher might be laboring. But when is enough enough?

Take last Sunday's Giants radio broadcast, please.

Ryan Vogelsong threw 30-something pitches in the first inning. OK, that's a lot. And it's likely to impact how far Vogelsong is going to be able to go. But do we really need apoplectic reminders every 30 seconds that — oh, my God! — Vogelsong's vital pitch count is off the charts? When Vogelsong had another "high stress" inning, as today's broadcasters like to say, in the third, with his pitch count for the game nearing 80, Miller and Flemming just couldn't stop fulminating about what an imminent catastrophe this was.

Enough with the pitch-count obsession. One or two mentions every now and then, and we'll feel informed, OK? And the broadcasters will feel like they're doing their job. Any more than that, any compulsive urge to remind listeners every 10 seconds what the gosh darn pitch count is should be summarily repressed.

Thank you very much.

Robert Rubino can be reached at robert.rubino@pressdemocrat.com.