Friday, May 8, 2015

If Willie Mays is gracious about A-Rod passing his HR total, it might be because Willie knows what it's like to have been banned from baseball

In 1979, years after retiring, Willie became a part-time greeter at the Bally's Park Place casino in Atlantic City. (Maybe Nucky Thompson signed him). MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, shrieking indignation, banned him from all baseball activities, including Cooperstown events and coaching for the Mets. Keep in mind that, as part of his contract with the casino, Willie was barred from betting in any of the casinos, and that - at the time - there was no organized sports gambling industry. His job basically meant playing in golf tournaments.

Mickey Mantle did the same, and he also received Bowie's pious boot. It ended Mickey's days as a Yankee hitting coach. He never really returned to the sport and resumed full-time drinking.

In 1984, both were reinstated by new MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth.

These days, you can go to a casino and play poker with Ozzie Smith.

We get accused of defending A-Rod more than he deserves, and maybe that's true. But no owner ever took a pitch in the ribs. The lords of the National Pastime have always been out of touch with the American public. It's what happens when unimaginable wealth is handed down from generation to generation.

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