It must be a slow news day.
The New York Daily News has on its front page today a story about how legendary thief Jeffrey Maier, who just graduated from Wesleyan University, is being looked at by the Yankees as a possible pick in this month's amateur draft.
"That Kid Is Back!" the headline screams. Ugh.
Maier is a marginal prospect who set the record for hits at the school (Wesleyan isn't exactly a major college baseball power). But he will forever be known as the kid who stole a home run for the Yankees in the 1996 ALCS, as Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco was attempting to catch the ball hit by Derek Jeter. The umpire, Richie Garcia, totally blew the call and later admitted that he did. (If you go to the spot where Maier interfered with Tarasco, you'll see it can't happen again, as barriers have since been built there.) The home run tied the game in the eighth inning and the Yankees went on to win Game 1 in extra innings, and later the series.
Umps blow calls all the time, but what bothered me most after it happened was the fact the media anointed this kid "The Angel In The Outfield," and made him into some kind of hero. He and his family made appearances on talk shows, that sort of thing. If an Orioles player hit that ball, and had they won by one run, Maier and his family would have been thrown out bodily by Yankee Stadium security, arrested and would probably have received death threats from angry Yankee fans. (It would have been "The Steve Bartman Incident" 7 years before it actually happened.) The whole affair made me want to throw up.
Now the media is once again making a big deal over this kid. I've heard him interviewed and he seems like a decent guy. But it doesn't excuse the media's once again fawning all over him again.
However, don't bring up Maier's name to Orioles fans. A couple of them I know have never forgiven him and still want his head on a stick.
With everything going on in the world (Iraq, DHS cuts, oil prices, etc.), this nonsense gets the front page. It should be buried deep in the sports pages, where it belongs. Or even in the "whatever happened to" section. Maier belongs in obscurity, and let's hope he goes there soon.