Okay, I'm no stranger to criticism. Despite the fact that most of my articles are pretty vanilla and fact-based, on occasion, I like to chase a walnut out onto a limb.
This is one of those times.
Baseball is facing an upcoming constitutional crisis. In the words of Mr. T, "you can't deny, fool!" There's no way around it; when Bud Selig goes, we've got to have our, er, stuff together.
So who steps into the void?
Some people have mentioned Rudy Giuliani. Well, I love Rudy - his politics are, by and large, reflective of my own - and baseball is, of course, quite the conservative icon in America.
"So...wait a minute here...you're nominating Mister Left Wing?"
Keith Olbermann's politics could scarcely be more different than mine; a fierce and concentrated effort to derail all US war efforts wound up with Olbermann getting fired from MSNBC.
He's pretty much the poster boy for all the things I pray doesn't happen to the American political process.
So, safe to say, we would be spending a lot of time at the water cooler - at top volume - and we might not always like to see each other in the Monday morning strategy meeting.
However, Olbermann is one of those that I can always listen to. He's intelligent, erudite, and ABSOLUTELY willing to tell the truth (even if it gets him fired, as he's already demonstrated). Keith clearly has the courage of his convictions.
We need someone like that. Someone who will stand up to a Jeremy Jacobs, who can bring disparate personalities (like Jerry Reinsdorf and Arturo Moreno) together. Someone who can, with either the carrot or the stick, make 'em all sit down together and "come to Jesus" - help them all see the light.
Don't get me wrong - we're not all doomed. I don't see MLB owners as sitting on the Death Star, plotting the destruction of Planet Baseball.
However, the next few decades are, as Master Yoda would say, "hard to see ... constantly in motion the future is."
And, as Bill Gates and the Chinese like to point out, the symbol for "crisis" is also the symbol for "opportunity", meaning that we have the chance to take the "retirement" (read: "slinking off into the sunset") of Bud Selig and make it into something good. Something that will help strengthen the sport we all love.
Arrogant. Leftist. Stubborn. Egotistical.
Olbermann is all of this, and more. I'm sure, if he ever reads this, he'll be grumbling at the screen. (It's okay, Keith. Me too. For a guy who trains first-aiders to write an article like this, pretending that I'm a real journalist, I've got to fit most of the adjectives listed myself. Just ask Goon. Sorry, buddy.)
That's okay. I don't have to like the guy to think he'll do the best job possible, something that most voters just haven't wrapped their heads around yet.
The most telling point here is that, polar opposites that we might be, I respect Keith Olbermann as an intellectually honest man. And the last time we had an intellectually honest man (Bart Giamatti) in MLB's driver's seat, not coincidentally, was the last time we could take the game seriously.
If Giamatti was alive today, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, the whole of the rotten bunch, would be gone faster than you could say "Pete Rose."
(I know, that comment just turned up the heat, but I've already referenced Rudy G, Bill Gates, the Chinese, Yoda and Mister T in the same article, so one more won't matter.)
Same thing with Olbermann. You see the man's courage—when he believes something is wrong, he bares his teeth and goes after it, and the only way to dislodge him is to outright fire him and remove him from the equation altogether.
Just ask MSNBC, right?
For those of you who wince and claim that the LAST thing baseball needs is another scandal, take a look at what happened after the Black Sox scandal. Baseball came back stronger than ever, fixed in the minds of Americans as an institution we could trust.
"They police themselves," so they're worth spending some money on.
Just like America itself, the tree of baseball's constitution must occasionally be watered with blood - the blood of the guilty.
We need a "character" guy at the top of the heap, and we need him BADLY. The fact that he's not entirely a baseball "insider" - notice, I said, "not entirely" - will help him. He doesn't so much think outside the box as say, "what box? there's no box!"
Olbermann would have had the guts to shitcan the steroiders, not just hit minor-leaguers with stiff penalties to cover up the major-league cheats. They'd have joined Rose in the alley, never to get a plaque at Cooperstown.
Keith Olbermann could be MLB's new sheriff, someone we can trust when he gets on TV and says, "This is the way it is. Now here's what we're going to do about it..."
Heck, he might even smack the Steinbrenners into place. Isn't that the left-wing way? Knock down the capitalists? Make the rich pay for the poor? He'll have ol' George (and new George, too) paying for the Kansas City Royals, too!
We could use someone like that, couldn't we? As Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan said, "Fine, we've been running the country with politically aware people since before I was born, and look where it's gotten us!"
It's HIGH time to look outside the establishment for some fresh thinking, for someone with guts enough to stand up to anyone, and, despite the fact that KO and I would likely be on opposite sides of whatever argument we were having, he's someone I can BELIEVE when he says that something is the right thing to do.
A principled baseball commissioner to lead us through the upcoming MLB constitutional crisis. Someone that both the owners AND the union AND, AND...WE FANS....could believe and follow.
What a thought.
What do you guys think?