Bob Lobel: Why We Don’t Want Players Like Jose Canseco

Saturday, May 26, 2012


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It's no coincidence that Fenway Park has become something it never was, but all that it could be. I am not talking about the house that Pokey Reese built, or the place that Nomar made famous or that Wakefield and Marabelli put on the walking tour of Boston.

Fenway Park has become something that Tom and Jean Yawkey never imagined. Having an imagination can trump money, and it usually does when you have one competing against the other. The Red Sox ownership (can we stop calling them new?) has done remarkable things. Certainly, they have spent money on building a team, but more importantly while spending that money, they also spent it on the Fenway renovation.

What that has done for the city of Boston and surrounding areas speaks volumes for what money and imagination can do together. It is an icon of the highest order, not only for Boston, but New England and the rest of the country. Let’s call it one of the top ten most recognizable structures, right up there with the Golden Gate Bridge, the St. Louis Arch, Empire State Building and whatever else you might want to nominate.

The result of such a functional building is that, when tested, it can put up first class events like hockey matches, summer concerts, soccer friendlies, presidential speeches and football games. Events are the prize it gives and, in return, it never gets old. Rather it gets better.

Sometimes, however, it can’t control the people that are the subject of its envy. One of the greatest events happened this year with the celebration of its 100th birthday. Every former player that played for the team was invited to show up. Over 200 did and it was total nostalgia. It was also a reminder that while buildings age gracefully, far too many players don’t.

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In fact, far too many great Hall of Fame players don’t leave when they should. I was reminded of this when the always interesting Jose Canseco used the occasion to flex his already controversial biceps. The moment was disappointing on an already special day. But then again, Canseco was no Hall of Fame player.

Rather he became an author of some distinction. Many have said the wrong guy wrote the right message, and that is probably true. Now he is a guy who stayed far too long, unlike the great ball park that just gets better. It is interesting the Canseco hold on so long when he has seen so many greater players make the same mistake. Mickey Mantle said his biggest regret was coming to bat an extra year at the request of the Yankees, only to have is career batting average dip below .300 to .298.

Willie Mays was sad to watch and Joe Namath, Brett Favre, Steve Carlton, and Michael Jordan, all went out far after their great championship days were behind them. Fenway Park has become a gift to the city in so many ways. So many great players have been there, so many great ones are on their way. Most will stay too long, but its difficult to blame them when so many greats before them did the same thing. Besides, it's easier to stay too long in a place like Fenway. A place that is going to keep giving its occupants the aura that comes with it.

Special thanks to friend and baseball sabermatrician and historian, Bill Chuck.  


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