Take it a step further. Why do we give in to the folks who sell off stadium naming rights? When someone decides to re-name an existing ballpark "3COM" or "US Cellular" or some other unpronounceable crap, why do we play along?
Every time I hear a reporter choke their way through one of these corporate monstrosities, I imagine the scene in Roots where they're whipping LeVar Burton, trying to get him to say that his name is "Toby," not Kunta Kinte.
I think the rule should be that these sponsorship deals are like someone giving themselves a nickname: if it's a good nickname, you can use it, grudgingly; if not, they're on their own. When the late, great Ol' Dirty Bastard wanted to rename himself Big Baby Jesus, did people go along with that? Heck, no. He was still the ODB. Same rule should apply here.
For the inevitable press conference next week, they really need to stage a big, fake hug-and-kiss photo op between Theo and Lucchino. Here's my preemptive offering for the inevitable caption contest:
"You're like something I can't scrape off the bottom of my shoe, junior."
"You'll be dead within year, old man. Dead."
What can I say, it's been a boring off-season.
One of the things that has demolished my WBC column is the continuous stream of mamby-pamby will-they-or-won't-they waffling that comes out of the Classic. For example, the powers-that-be finally agreed to let the Cubans participate, in an international tourney, which sure is big of them. Alex Rodriguez, after yet another "I'm not sure I'm going" stint, and after having been placed on Dominican Republic's provisional roster, is with Team USA...um, all the way, right?
All this mess has made it hard to root for what should be a no-brainer for any baseball fan. Short-form, here's five reasons to watch the Classic:
1. Baseball that matters in March. No mystery about this, it's simply more baseball at a time when the alternative would be watching B teams in Spring Training. I'm already fiending pretty hard for some baseball on the tube, so I'll probably be a raving maniac by March.
2. The Shuuto. I want to see a pitcher with mechanics we've don't see in the U.S., throwing a pitch no major league pitcher throws.
3. Barry Bonds. At the WBC, he'll be under the Olympic drug testing regime. It won't help anyone who believes that Barry Bonds has a magical undetectable genetically-taylored super-soldier serum flowing through his veins, but it might allay some doubts (or create some new ones if Barry stinks up the joint) as Bonds heads toward Ruth and Aaron in 2006.
4. Team Italy. What's the over/under on how many players on the final roster will actually be from the U.S.? I'd love to see footage of Italian reporters interviewing guys whose Italian language skills are about as good as mine. (Expect a lot of "Ah. Aha." dropped into those conversations. Worked for me.)
5. The Off-Chance Someone Might Shock the World. I expect this would be very bad news for A-Rod, but could you imagine the attention that would be drawn to this if Team USA lost, or came close to losing? Much of the disinterest so far has come from the assumption that Team USA will easily whup any other team on the planet. The second it looks plausible that the best ballplayers in the world might hit the canvas--and it could happen--all sorts of ears are going to perk up.