Work in Sports
Royalty doesn't always get by
By Jeff Pearlman, Sports Illustrated
SAN FRANCISCO -- In San Francisco, there's Orlando Cepeda, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey (Apologies to Johnnie LeMaster) and everybody else.
You're one of the three kings or you're one of the five million peons. No problem with that. Royalty -- like owning a spot in the Oingo Boingo Fan Club -- is an earned right. Membership has its privileges.
Thing is, sometimes peons get giddy. Give one of 'em a walkie-talkie and a swank green blazer, arrogance settles in. That's when trouble starts.
An hour before Wednesday's Mets-Giants game at Pacific Bell Park, the legendary Cepeda -- a 1999 Hall of Fame inductee and the producer of 379 career home runs -- stepped into the stadium press box with Mirian, his wife.
Orlando was wearing a media pass. Mirian was not. Upon entering The Land of 1,000 Freeloaders, Cepeda was halted by a husky security guard, who boldly told The Baby Bull that his wife -- "No pass!" -- could not enter.
Cepeda, a Giants community representative and, by all accounts, a jolly lug of a man, went Rodman. From underneath his straw cap, Cepeda barked at the guard, yelling, "Why do you treat me like that? Why do you treat me like that?"
A small crowd of guards and police type gathered, but not a one stepped up on Cepeda's behalf. They merely stared and nodded, sheep in the Golden Gate city's only black-and-orange petting zoo. It was a pathetic scene. It was an unnecessary scene.
"Why would you do that?" a press box attendant asked moments later, after Cepeda -- head down, pride KOed -- exited, stage left. "That's Orlando Cepeda. They should give him a break."
She sighed. Royalty, it turns out, don't mean bull.
The best thing about playoff baseball is the questions. Questions, questions, questions. Bad questions, worse questions and questions that should earn the inquisitor a spot in the Boob Hall of (In) Fame.
There are inches and inches of space to fill, empty tape canisters that must be used, talking-head boobs desperate for material.
To Giants manager Dusty Baker, the day before Game 1:
Q: How different does this series seem from the past couple of ones you've been involved with?
A: We won't know that until tomorrow.
To Mets manager Bobby Valentine, the day before Game 1:
Q: Somebody used the word "tough" to describe Mike Hampton. If they had to choose one word to describe him, they choose the word "tough."
A: I've never seen him in a fight.
To Giants first baseman J.T. Snow, after the 5-1 victory:
Q: J.T., does winning the first game bode well for this team?
A: Uhhh ... yes.
Hanging 'em up?
Earlier in the week, Giants second baseman Jeff Kent told reporters that, should the Giants win the World Series, this would possibly be his final season.
"I put so much effort in playing the game as a team, that if we win the dang World Series, you might not see my playing next year," he said. "That's how valuable winning the championship is to me."
Taken aback by the declaration, Baker called Kent into his office the next day. "He said he's going to play a while," said Baker. "He's looking forward to another contract. And if you bought a 20,000-acre ranch, those guys aren't going to pay what you're making out here."