For this generation, Sept. 11, 2001, is a date that needs no further explanation. The enduring theme for me is the camaraderie and support that our nation showed for itself, strangers immediately becoming brothers and sisters united by the relation of 'American'. In the days leading up to the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, it was encouraging to see that cohesion return. For as much horror and grief as that day brought, it also ingrained in all of us a permanent sense of brotherhood which will never disappear.
Unfortunately, while the country understands the importance of honoring those who perished that day and celebrating their memory, MLB is outthinking itself. The New York Mets planned to wear hats honoring the first responders of the NYPD and FDNY in a game being played 10 miles from where the Twin Towers were knocked down a decade ago today. Bud Selig, however, didn't think this was such a good idea.
Citing the "need" to keep policy consistent throughout baseball, MLB denied the Mets' patriotic request. Former Met Todd Zeile, who was playing for the team when the attacks occurred, mentioned during the Sunday night national telecast that the 2001 Mets encountered opposition from the league when attempting to carry out a similar tribute shortly after the attacks. In that case, Zeile said, MLB told the players they could wear the hats during a pregame ceremony but would have to switch back to their generic league-mandated caps before the game started. Zeile and the rest of his teammates essentially told Selig to shove it, and they wore the first responders' hats anyway.
Joe Torre, MLB's Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, told ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin of the reasoning behind the decision, "Certainly, it's not a lack of respect."
With all due respect to Torre and MLB, it's beyond that. It's a lack of humanity, intelligence, and awareness combined. A hodgepodge of stupidity. Apparently the intent of MLB's policy requiring strict adherence to its standard apparel is...well, I don't know what it is. It seemed like Torre was implying that if every team wasn't going to honor the city's first responders in such a poignant manner, nobody could.
That viewpoint doesn't make any sense, but there's still a solution for it: make EVERYONE wear NYPD/FDNY hats on Sept. 11. Every team, every coach, hell, even the umpires. This year, next year, and for as long as MLB continues to exist. For a game that calls itself "America's Pastime," this doesn't seem like an unreasonable request. See if anyone complains. Go ahead, I'll wait.
And if Selig and the rest of his office didn't want to impose mandates requiring teams to honor our country's fallen, the least he could've done was stay out of the way when the Mets tried to do so on their own accord. Instead, we get nonsensical decisions like this one.
Sept. 11, 2001, will always be a special day: for the hate it displayed, the heroism it exposed, and the national bond it inspired. Sept. 11, 2011 was supposed to be a day of remembrance, honoring, and reflection. And it still was, even if the ignorance pervading the MLB offices (which sit less than two miles from the footprint of the Towers) didn't realize it.
Rob Smith is a contributing writer for the Business of Sports Network. He can be reached on Twitter @RobSmithUSF or on his personal blog, http://smithersports.blogspot.com/
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