The Straw That Fouls The Drink
"Reggie," says Joe Torre in the wake of the latest Reggie Jackson flap, "is just being Reggie."
Yes, indeed, Reggie was just being Reggie when he made his inflammatory comments in the current issue of `Sports Illustrated. And once again we are reminded that the real Reggie is a self-centered jerk.
In the SI profile, we're told everything there is to know about the new Reggie, i.e. that he's carrying a heavy spiritual load (presumably in part because a fire in Berkley ruined his $3.2 million collection of classic cars - didn't he have insurance?), that he has found God (prompting many to remember Catfish Hunter's classic comment that "The difference between Reggie Jackson and God is that God doesn't think he's Reggie Jackson"), and that he doesn't think any of the players who have passed him up on the all-time home run list should be voted into the Hall of Fame, including his distant cousin, Barry Bonds.
Not only that, Jackson said to SI, "If any of these guys get in, no Hall of Famer will attend" - Reggie's affiliation with God, presumably, allows him to speak for all living Hall of Famers.
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Of Alex Rodriguez, he said, "Al's a very good friend. But I think there are real questions about his numbers. As much as I like him, what he admitted about his usage does cloud some of his records."
So far, A-Rod has been silent on the subject of Jackson's remarks. But someone ought to point out, so I suppose I will, that the only accusations made about Rodriguez have been for his years in Texas and that a study of those years proved that his road production was
commensurate with his other road seasons and that his apparent boost in power came from playing in he Rangers home stadium - where everyone's power numbers received a boost.
But I digress. What I'm wondering is: what is it that the Yankees get back for the (reported) $400,000 a year they a pay Reggie Jackson? What is it they get that compensates for his constant disruptions?
"Reggie is an outspoken person and he speaks what's on his mind," says Torre.
"Sometimes it doesn't come out right or whatever."
Yes, Reggie speaks what's on his mind, and what's on his mind is always self-serving and pompous. Back in 2002, when he was on the Veterans Committee, he didn't vote for Marvin Miller for the Hall of Fame.
Miller, when he was head of the players union and then, later, when he was serving as a special advisor to the union, went out of his way to praise Reggie's actions in holding the players together in times of labor strife. In an interview a few years ago, Miller went so far as
to say, "Reggie's actions off the field during times of labor unrest were the real shining moments of his career, in my estimation overshadowing his finest accomplishment as a ballplayer."
Miller made Reggie Jackson a free man by wining free agency for the players -- if it wasn't for Miller and the union, Reggie would have been lucky to get over $100,000 a year. Yet, when it came time for Reggie to acknowledge what Miller had done for the players and for the
game, he decided that "The Hall of Fame should be only for players."
As if anyone had asked Reggie Jackson to decide whether nonplayes should be eligible for the Hall - by Reggie's "standards," we must assume the likes of Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, Connie Mack, and Bill Veeck don't merit the honor of having a plaque in the same building as Reggie's.
Did the Yankees actually "bar" Reggie from going to Fenway last week for the Red Sox series? The Yankees say no, and Reggie says no, but Reggie didn't go, so we have to assume someone in the front office had uncharacteristic good sense in this instance.
The question the Yankees brass must sooner or later come to terms with is why they want Reggie around at all.
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