Friday, January 14, 2005

"Where Have You Gone, Joe Dimaggio?"
By Salvador Gabor


This is a question that many middle-aged to older sports fans have been asking for decades now. Seems as if when Joe DiMaggio left, the "Big Money" contracts, nights full of women, alcohol and gambling game into play. Not to mention the arrests, law suits and rapes. Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Maybe it's me but the players now seem to want everyone to know their name and their stats. Their jersey number and their patented celebration dance. While everyone's looking for attention there are some looking for Joe DiMaggio.

Where is he? Joe is actually dead. He died a few years ago and with that marked the death of his spirit in sports. WELL.........in the eyes of some. I for one don't believe that he is gone. His spirit of tough plays and dedication are here today. Even in the midst of all the drinking, smoking, partying and disrespectful actions that many players involve themselves in, Joe is here. He was here when Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb did the same things such as binge drinking, loud cursing and egotistical gestures on the field of play. But, the people looking endlessly for Joe won't let us young folks in on THAT secret. Babe Ruth pointed to Center Field in a World Series against the Chicago Cubs and that gesture led people to believe that he was "calling his home run shot". This is BEFORE he took his bat to the plate. And we have the nerve to think that pulling a cell phone after a touchdown is disrespectful. At least the guy waited till AFTER he scored to mock the opposing team. A football player accidentally spears another player and it's a $75,000 fine. Ty Cobb slides in to 2nd Base and intentionally kicks his spikes into the opposing players shin and he's considered one of the best baseball players of all time. I am not a Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb hater, I actually like both but, I just wanna know why people can't see Joe Dimaggio? Did he really leave? Or did those looking for him become blind in old age?

Leagues such as the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB make billions from the intensity and passion of the games they represent. It's not a passion that can be turned on and off as we please. So along with the tears shed on the sideline of a Super Bowl Champion comes the passion of a hard-working man trying to keep his job by making a tackle and accidentally grabs a facemask or aims too high at an opposing player. Along with the candid interviews and pre-game hype for a high-powered matchups comes an occasional touchdance dance and a player simulating the act of pulling down his pants. The same man who celebrates in this manner is the one who was motivated to do such by fans making discouraging and degrading remarks towards him. If I'm not mistaken, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and others went through this as well and ole Joe was around then too. Had they pulled down their pants and "mooned" a crowd, maybe the fans would have learned a lesson a long time ago. And again I ask, "Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?".

Every year there is a story line in sports. This story line makes the game seem that much more interesting. The pre-game shows, the interviews, the post-game analysis, the articles where some player predicts a win over another team because he calls them "soft" or "sorry". These things make us tune in. And with billion dollar contracts with TV networks on the line, somebody BETTER make it interesting. If everybody simply handed the ball to the referee after every score, what would the game be? If everyone shut their mouths all week and didn't talk trash about the opponent, what would the game be? If no one argued on the sidelines and made up the next week or got traded because they couldnt get along with a former teammate, would good would it be to watch a game on Christmas or stay up till 12:30 A.M. just to see what team would win in Overtime. I'm not asking for a sports world full of Dennis Rodmans but, for God's sake we don't need a sports world full of John Stocktons either. From characters such as Art Donovan to "Mean" Joe Greene to Ron Artest. From beloved players such "Pee Wee Reese" to Roger Staubach to David Robinson. There is a balance in sports. There always was, and there always will be. It's just that the intensity has increased and it takes a MEAN attitude from players sometimes to take it to the next level.

Somehow these Joe DiMaggio fans think that this is a new wave of sports and that this new wave came all the way out of LEFT FIELD.........I'm sorry to tell ya, it came outta CENTER FIELD. For those who don't know.........thats where JOE DIMAGGIO played his best ball.