Killing Tony (and Baseball) Softly

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Killing Tony (and Baseball) Softly
As I watched Tony Gwynn Jr. of the Milwaukee Brewers get his first major league hit tonight on a Sportscenter highlight reel, it occured to me how different of a game baseball is today than it was when Gwynn Sr. was at his peak. 
I wish I could say that the transformation baseball has gone through in the past ten years or so is a positive one, but claiming such would be a flat out lie.  Because the game of baseball has been destroyed—by fans like you. 
And I'm not going to sit here and smile about it. 
Tony Gwynn is one of those players who is flat out going to be forgotten about by the next generation of baseball fans. Aka fans who are in diapers now, and while perhaps old enough to mouth the words "BALCO" haven't yet managed to break in their first Rawlings glove.  
Hold it right there...TONY GYWNN?
Are we talking about the same person here? The eight time batting champ from the San Diego Padres? Who was hitting .394 in 1994, only to be cut short of Ted Williams by the strike?
You mean Tony Gwynn, perhaps the greatest singles hitter of all time? THAT Tony Gwynn?
How could anyone in their right mind forget him?  
Yeah, that Tony Gwynn. And I'll tell you how he can be forgotten: because the common belief these days is that walks, home runs, and steroids win championships. And Tony Gwynn was never very good at any of that.
The things he was good at—hitting to all fields, watching film, running the bases and fielding—are no longer considered to be valuable attributes for a baseball player to have. How this dramatic change occured is rooted in trickery and lies and involves many guilty parties, but in the end would not have been possible if baseball fans had stood up for the national pastime's history and traditions.
Instead, fans from New York to California keeled over while a pack of owners, general managers, corporations, statisticians, and journalists turned the world of baseball completely on its head.
Tony Gwynn will be forgotten by our children and our children's children because the game of baseball has been totally destroyed over the past ten years. Everything that this tubby man once stood for is gone—whether it be the strategy behind the game or the attitude of the players, owners and fans alike.
Tony Gwynn is foreign to the present game of baseball; not only is the hit and run long since dead, but gosh, look at A-Rod and the three different jerseys that he's worn since 2000. Look at the specimens seen at this year's All Star Game, who make Hulk Hogan look weaker than your dead grandma.
Baseball has changed so dramatically since Tony Gywnn came into the league that it hardly seems like the same sport. Offense has put defense out of business, the home run has killed the stolen base, and the players have traded in their cocaine viles for a syringe and 500 miligrams of Human Growth Hormone.
To pretend that times haven't changed would be dishonest to both the game that has been ruined and the men who once played it. Those men played a truly different game than what is mistakenly referred to as "baseball" today.
A game of strategy; a game of speed.
A game of pride.
Today's players engage in quite a different game...a game that I like to call CRANK.  
Yes, CRANK my friends. That's what I will call this new game that in some ways reminds us of baseball.
Why crank? Simple: crank back the syringe, crank back the bat, and crank that ball into the stands where some hillbillie on crank can sell it on Ebay for fifty thousand bucks.
That's what Mcgwire and Sosa did. That's what Barry did. That's what every player in this era of the game who breaks a record will do.
And why shouldn't they? You, the baseball fans, have given them every reason to do so.
When balls started flying out of the park, everyone flocked to the stadiums again to see a game they once cared about and once loved in a seemingly forgotten past life.
Only this time, the fans weren't flocking to a corn field in Iowa...they were flocking to Enron field in Houston, where the local energy company was giving back to the community with a Crank show that could be seen for the small price of $60.
I'm talking to you, ALL of you, you baseball fans, who have ruined this great game.
You, the fans, who demanded more home runs, and a record breaking year for Mcgwire and Sosa.
You, the fans, who lapped it up for the last ten seasons while smallball was replaced by steroid ball.
You, the fans, who read Michael Lewis' allegedly "biblical" work called Moneyball, a book which declared that homers and walks—not singles and stolen bags—were what was important to the game of baseball.
It all comes back to Tony Gwynn: Tony Gwynn and his simplistic singles. His singles that are useless to baseball, says a brainy wizard from Harvard University—a brainy wizard who is new and different and clearly does not belong in a room full of baseball scouts, but somehow he is there, and not only is he there, but he's calling the shots, because in this "new" generation of our national pastime, pussies like this get to sit in the same room as real men...men who are trying to go out there to make a living, trying to save a game—a game that is as important to our country's history as the stars and stripes—from the claws of treachery and wickedness.
This brain (and many others like him) wants us to think that 134 years of professional baseball means nothing; that Jackie Robinson's stealing of home plate in the 1955 World Series was not a moment of truimph, but a moment of foolishness, as the STATISTICS show that nine times out of ten Jackie would have been out—out for Godsakes!—out at home and Brooklyn would have lost the series because neither their star second baseman nor their Hall of Fame coach ever bothered to do a cost/benefit analysis of stealing home, or take economics in college, or go to college at all for that matter. That Bill Mazeroski, perhaps the greatest defensive 2nd baseman the game has ever seen and the man who hit the walk off home run in game seven of the 1960 World Series, probably shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame, as defensive ability is a largely overated attribute and the notion of clutch performance is a complete myth.
Or that Carlos Delgado is a better player than Tony Gwynn ever was.  
Yes, you heard me right...because after all, Tony Gwynn never hit 20 home runs in a year, or walked very often.
On the other hand, look at Delgado's performance in 2000: 41 home runs, .470 OBP.
When did Gwynn ever have a year like that? 1997 you say?
Let's see: 17 home runs, and a .409 OBP.
1984?
A laughable five dingers, and only a .410 OBP.
What's so impressive about this guy? Batting titles, you say now?
Batting titles schmatting titles, doofus brain! Haven't you got the memo? Hitting for average isn't important to baseball! We've figured it out after sticking our heads in more books than Bill Nye the Science Guy.
You see, this thing called On Base Percentage—yes I know you've never heard of it, and yes I know that you've been following baseball for your whole life but—this thing, On Base Percentage, it's much more significant than Batting Average.
Listen, do you want your team to win or not? If so, forget about that hitting for average nonsense; OBP, that's all that matters. Seriously, I shit you not.
Yes, you should hope that the Padres get as many .250 hitters as they can, as long as they are good at one thing: walking. Walking to first base. Because that's far more important than hitting some silly white ball with some silly wooden bat into shallow left.
Walking is a much larger predictor of sucess. No, it doesn't matter if the Padres can't get a hit in the World Series! Don't you understand? CLUTCH PERFORMANCES ARE A MYTH!  
Do you see what's happened, alleged fans of "baseball?" You've been duped; completely played for suckers.
Duped by brainy nerds and clever writers who have convinced you that the game is played differently than it actually is; duped by Fortune 500 corporations into paying five bucks for a hot dog and fifty cents to take a piss; duped by the owners and general managers, who shell out extra bucks to the games greatest sluggers as long as they promise to hit the long ball (and pick up a needle while they're at it).
The owners, the players, and Michael Lewis are laughing their heads off—all the way to the bank, and you're laughing with them, as you hand over another Benjamin and Mcgwire hits 70 bombs, and Barry hits 73.
But since you're laughing, and their laughing, and everybody's laughing...who's getting hurt in all this?
Tony Gwynn, that's who. And the game of baseball—BASEBALL, not crank.  
Tony Gwynn, and his uncanny ability to slap a ball between the shortstop and third baseman, which has now been deemed inefficient.
Tony Gwynn, and his silly commitment to community service, a clearly outdated notion in this time where domestic abuse is all the rage.
Tony Gwynn, and his obnoxious, overated, and downright senseless knack for knowing just where a line drive off the right field wall was going to land.
Tony Gwynn, and his utter refusal to play big ball, moneyball, or steroid ball throughout his entire career.
I have only one thing left to say you to you crank-mongers: live with it. Live with the hideous game that you have created.
Live with the fact that every time you look in the mirror, a face looks back at you that gives you goosebumps and makes your insides churn. Live with the fact that these players—these role models for your children—stick needles in their arms and leave the home team in a jam for a better offer in Texas.
Stop your bitching and whining and once and for all just ADMIT—admit that it's not just the players, and the owners, and the roids, but that you, YOU are completley at fault for the state of the game today.
Admit it, just for once—and maybe, just maybe, baseball will come back.
But for Godsakes, leave Tony Gwynn alone. He's practicing his fundamentals on a cornfield in Iowa, and would prefer it if you just let him hit singles. 
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