Sponsor-less Selig covers bases while dodging Bonds' 715th

May 05, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig drew a line in the quicksand when he announced that Major League Baseball would not participate in any celebration of Barry Bonds' impending 715th home run.

It was a deft political move, because it telegraphed the disapproval of MLB and its corporate sponsors for Bonds and his alleged knee-deep involvement in the sport's steroid quagmire without openly taking a position on the controversial slugger's proximity to one of the most revered figures of the national pastime.

Babe Ruth no longer holds the all-time home run record, Selig pointed out, so there will be no celebration until Bonds passes Hank Aaron's 755, which would make perfect sense if baseball weren't already in the habit of celebrating just about anything Bank of America or some other corporate giant is willing to pay big bucks to sponsor.

Let's not fool ourselves. If MasterCard had agreed last year to make Bonds the centerpiece of a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, I'm guessing that Major League Baseball would have found an appropriate way to celebrate this historic home run.

Possible commercial:

Cutting-edge personal trainer: $500 per session.

The `Clear' and the `Cream': $1,000 per bottle.

New home for mistress: $300,000.

Trotting out your son to shame the media for hurting your family: priceless.

OK, back to reality. Baseball didn't think twice about running an Internet poll for its "Master- Card Greatest Moments" promotion a few years ago, and nobody batted an eye when Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard Round The World" didn't make the Top 10.

Selig and his marketing people are always on the lookout for a profitable tie-in, and baseball is understandably on guard against anything that might damage the marketability of the game. I'm not sure what else Selig could have done in this case, except to be a little more upfront about the whole thing.

It wasn't until Game of Shadows was excerpted in Sports Illustrated and some top sponsors raised concerns about Bonds and the steroid mess that the George Mitchell investigation got off the ground. No one had any problem celebrating Bonds' record-breaking 73rd homer in 2001, and - really - everybody knew what was going on.

Good to hear that Bonds isn't offended by the MLB slight. He said Wednesday that if Selig and MLB aren't all that excited about him passing the Sultan of Swat, that's just fine with him.

"Why would I be disappointed?" he said. "What would ever give me reason to be upset? Why would I be insulted?"

The only thing missing was Lesley Gore in the background singing "It's My Party (and I'll Cry If I Want To)."

If the sale price of the Nationals is, indeed, $450 million, then each major league team (except the Nationals, of course) will get $15.51 million. That's a nice figure, but it's a little deceptive, since MLB bought the Montreal Expos for $120 million in 2001 and claimed to have been running the team at a loss for several years before the move to Washington.

Still, the deal turned out all right, since the early speculation was that MLB would only be able to sell the struggling franchise for about $200 million. The enhanced sale price reflects the value of the sweetheart stadium deal as well as the potential upside of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

Don't know about you, but I can't wait to read golfer John Daly's new autobiography, which documents his problems with alcohol, women, gambling and obesity.

It's hard to imagine that a guy with all that personal baggage could still make it on the PGA Tour. Obviously, I should have spent more time at the driving range when I was in college.

Daly claims that he once gambled away $1.65 million in five hours, mostly in a $5,000 slot machine.

That couldn't have been easy. Those coins have got to weigh 15 or 20 pounds each.

This week's silly headline from SportsPickle.com, the Maryland-based sports humor and satire site on the Web: Albert Pujols' 35th Birthday Party a Low-Key Affair

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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