I know that you are an avid reader of this column, so I thought that I’d throw you a line.
I thought that you needed to know that a friend of mine came up to me last week and congratulated me, a quasi-journalist, for whatever part I might have played in breaking you down this spring. “I can’t stand that guy. Good job,” he said with a deliberate laugh.
But Barry, I assured him that I had no part in it. I was shocked and bewildered by such an aspersion. And then, suddenly, I was struck with wonder and doubt. Did I have some part in making you “tired…just tired?”
Was I responsible for your “bridge jump?” Did I lead you to contemplate sitting out the season and depriving all of us of your loving gaze and witty banter? I’m not sure. Something told me that I must have been. Oh wait, that was you wasn’t it?
You said that the media was responsible for the mess you’re in. You even asked the cameraman to include your 15-year-old son in the shot at your last interview. You wanted us to see the effect we were having on your family. He sure looked sad Barry.
I can see clearly that we were exploiting him – now that you’ve held him in front of the camera like that. I recall that your dad was a major leaguer, but maybe he didn’t prepare you to be a public figure. It wouldn’t make any sense for you to expect to be a news story while being a highly-paid athlete.
You know, my memory is rotten sometimes. Maybe I did guide you along the way. Maybe you asked me, “should I cheat on my wife and buy her a house with autograph money that I’m hiding from the IRS?”
Then, you could have asked me, “Should I embalm myself with illegal performance-enhancing drugs, treat everyone as if they are something scraped from the bottom of my spikes and chase one of the most hallowed records in all of sports?”
You may have asked, I’m not sure. All of those things are only alleged. And besides, Americans do not often draw conclusions based on all of these coincidences coming so close together.
Barry, my man, if you did ask and I answered in a way that has put you in a tough spot now, let me say that I’m sorry. I don’t recall it, but that’s no excuse not to take responsibility for my actions. Heck, let me go ahead and apologize for all of us reporter folk, because I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one that you asked for guidance.
In the future, I hope we can work all of this out, because it’s all about the fans and the integrity of the sport anyway. Good luck, buddy.
Your friend, The Pine Tar Fly