Stuck on Buck
Now the Diamondbanks know how Spinal Tap felt.
That's a riff on the introduction to a September 27, 1999, front-page story in the Pre-Millennial Arizona Republic. That article, which chronicled a euphoric celebration for the newly crowned National League West champs, began, "Now the Diamondba[n]ks know how the Beatles felt."
Some 8,000 swooning fans greeted the D-Banks late on Sunday night, September 26, after they returned from San Francisco, where they had clinched the division title against the Giants.
The normally plaster-faced Buck Showalter was suddenly a showboat. He exhorted the throng, spinning his cap around backward, hooting and pumping his fist into the air. He was hailed as the genius with the Midas touch who would go on to lead his boys of summer to 100 victories. He would bring a division title to an expansion franchise more rapidly than any manager in history.
And now, of course, he is history.
At times like these, it's the Flash's job to remind the loyal readership of their fair-weatherness, their long-term memory lapses, their fickletude, their brain belches.
It's not easy liking Buck Showalter, but in an era when managers are chosen more for their sound bites than their field smarts, the Buckmeister was an endearing anachronism. Plus, purple jacket or not, he was 250-236 in three years for an expansion team. Put that in your fungo bat and smoke it.
But, hey, the Flash likes Bob Knight, too. So call me a Cro-Magnon.
The sports pages and the airwaves have been lousy with postmortem analyses of everything Buck did wrong. The Republic's Pedro Gomez -- who will never be as good a writer or reporter as Showalter is a baseball man -- has led the flogging. Buck is being lambasted for being too intense, too strict a disciplinarian, a sourpuss who stifled his players' creativity.
Let me remind the tar-and-feather brigade of a few things Buck didn't do.
Buck didn't foul that ball off Matt Williams' foot. Buck didn't make Jay Bell hit his career average this year, and Buck didn't give him the range of, well, a range. Buck didn't make Erubiel Durazo brittle. Buck didn't rip Todd Stottlemyre's arm out of its socket. Buck didn't make Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling throw pus for the past six weeks. Buck didn't give Tony Womack attention deficit disorder at the plate.
And Buck wasn't responsible for a lot of idiotic things -- things that nobody is being called on the carpet for.
Buck didn't lose all fiscal discipline and cash in the organization's young prospects to sign past-their-prime money guzzlers like Williams, Bell and Johnson, who possess colossal, no-trade contracts with mountains of deferred compensation. The D-Banks may end up paying as much as half their salaries after they're retired. That's rank expediency.
Buck didn't announce a 12 percent ticket price increase during "Fan Appreciation Week" in September 1998 -- a public relations fiasco that helped fuel a free fall in season ticket renewals.
Buck didn't choose that hideous mascot, Baxter.
Whose neck is going on the block for those errors?
As you bandwagoneer sports buffs get all atavistic over the blood on the field at BOB, consider this: D-Bank managing partner Jerry Colangelo announced at Buck's firing press conference that he had been ordering Showalter to slake his martiality, to lighten up and "relax."
This from a man who has the personality and countenance of a gargoyle. A man who continually looks as though he's about to pass a casaba melon. This from the totally mellow dude who prohibited his players from wearing facial hair -- until he bought a suitable double standard, in the person of the Big Eunuch.
So perhaps Bob Brenly will be the new manager. Everyone will guffaw a lot and have a jocular good time. But this organization may have seen its best days for some time to come.
When the Flash thinks of likely allies for the vegans here in the Valley, Phoenix Mayor Skippy Rimsza is not the first name that springs to mind -- he's always seemed such a traditional meat-and-potatoes type of guy.
Remember those barbecues he threw in his backyard for campaign contributors? They weren't charring tofu dogs.
But sure enough, the City Skipper, much to the delight of local animal-rights folk, officially proclaimed October 2, 2000, World Farm Animals Day in Phoenix. The Skipmeister isn't ready to profess vegetarianism or anything un-American like that, however. His proclamation, which you can check out at http://www.azvegan.com/, reads:
"WHEREAS, most people believe that animals raised for food should be accorded human [sic] and sanitary treatment; and
"WHEREAS, farming should be designed to protect our environment and to conserve our resources; and
"WHEREAS, our food supply should be safe and wholesome; and,
"WHEREAS, for the past 18 years, World Farm Animals Day has been calling public attention to these pressing issues on October 2, the birthday anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the world's foremost advocate of human [sic], sustainable farming . . ."
The Flash finds this a persuasive string of whereas-es.
Now pass the A.1. sauce, Your Honor.
The Flash received a separate press release from FARM (Farm Animals Reform Movement) that decried the "tragedy of farm animals" and announced demonstrations and activities around the country.
According to the release, a memorial service for farm animals was planned in Fairbanks. Phoenix was one of the cities where a "farm animal walkathon" was scheduled.
Unfortunately, the Flash was too busy watching baseball playoffs and eating Farmer John hot dogs to attend.
FARM explains that "most participants are motivated by their outrage at the abysmal treatment of animals raised for food. Each year, nearly ten billion cattle, pigs, sheep, and other innocent, feeling animals are caged, crowded, deprived, drugged, mutilated, and manhandled in U.S. factory farms, yards, and slaughterhouses until death ends their agony."
The Flash never wants to see any living creature suffer, with the possible exception of Republican legislators.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
But c'mon, Skippy and FARM, how does one make a slaughterhouse humane? Killing is killing, and you can't eat animals when they're alive.
What are we supposed to do, bring in a Steer Whisperer to convince the critter to run and jump on the grill?
What will Skippy do next? Shut down Honey Bear's? Introduce an ordinance to outlaw Durant's 64-ounce prime rib?
I'd be more sympathetic if our suddenly sprout-friendly leader might issue a proclamation urging the humane treatment of all humans under his jurisdiction. How about World Feed Farm Animals to All Those Hungry Homeless Derelicts Malingering Downtown Day?