Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Miss Craig Biggio

Move over Michael Vick and Latrell Sprewell – there's a new sports bad boy in town. Unfortunately, it's our town he's in.

The Houston Astros must have thought they were getting a good deal when they signed pitcher Shawn Chacon to a one-year contract earlier this year. Despite a tendency to start well and then quickly fall apart (see his records with the Rockies and the Yankees), the Astros front office jumped at the chance to bag the one-time All-Star. Chacon worked hard during spring training, earned a spot on the rotation, and by the end of May was still holding his own in the starting lineup. Then, true to nature, his numbers started dropping. Then tumbling. And by last weekend, Wade and Astros manager Cooper had little choice but to demote him to the bullpen.

But the bottom didn't fall out until Wednesday, when Chacon refused a summons to Coop's office. GM Ed Wade confronted Chacon in the lunchroom, and somebody lost control. According to Chacon, he was sitting – quietly and innocently minding his own business – when Wade sauntered up and started yelling and cursing at him. Uh-huh.
"... So at that point I lost my cool, and I grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. I jumped on top of him, because at that point I wanted to beat his (behind). Words were exchanged."
I realize I don't get paid $2 million per year, but if I was having trouble at work and was beginning to worry about my job, my first reaction would not be to throttle my boss, throw him down and start pounding on him. Oh, and then "words were exchanged." That, my friends, takes some read Chacon-es, if you know what I mean.

This, of course, is where I realize how much I miss having Craig Biggio in the clubhouse. Biggio had the reputation of being a real leader on the team, and would often take new teammate aside and "let them know" how Astros players were expected to behave. And if Bigg's soft-spoken words weren't enough, his best bud Bagwell could always come over and sit on you for a bit. I'm pretty sure they held a strict "no choking the coaching staff" policy back in the good old days.

Owner Drayton McLane has already made up his mind about the ex-starter: he won't be throwing any more hardballs for the home team at Minute Maid Park.
"We can't have anarchy," McLane said. "You can't have rebellion. If he disagreed with what Cecil wanted him to do, he should have had the courage to sit down and talk to him."

McLane went on to say, "If you shoved a policeman down or any other public servant ... can you imagine shoving a principal in a school? It was in full view of several players. Players pulled Chacon and restrained him. There's absolutely no way."
I love Chacon's parting comments to reporters:
"Maybe it shouldn't have happened," Chacon said. "But when you do those things and you're yelling at somebody and you're cussing you better know what type of person you're dealing with. If there's any regret, I just wish they had just let me alone."
In other words, it wasn't his fault. Wasn't his fault that he was pitching lousy, losing games, not focusing. He's a star, he's entitled to that starting position! And if they try to take that away from him, well, he's not responsible for what might happen.

I wonder how long it will take before he starts claiming racial discrimination.

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