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As a Mets owner, Maher in spot to afflict MLB's comfortable with humor

by | National Columnist

New rules: When Maher talks, now Bud Selig has to listen. (AP)  
New rules: When Maher talks, now Bud Selig has to listen. (AP)  

Bud Selig keeps saying this is his last spin around the track, which we know is a lie because he's said this about 12 times before. Hey, he's consistently persistent.

But let's pretend this little goodbye-forever-eventually-but-not-just-yet charade isn't one of Bud's funny little quirks, just to make this one point.

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He must, for the sake of his legacy, get Bill Maher into an owners' meeting, sit him next to guys like Jeff Loria and Jerry Reinsdorf and John Henry, and then watch him throw spitballs all around the room. You know, just to get a rise out of the swells.

We have learned by reading it somewhere else that Maher is now a minority owner of the New York Mets as part of the Wilpon family's gigantic post-Madoff garage sale. True to the role, he won't say how much he has (rather a violation of the transparency he often asks of our elected officials), but we don't care how much he has. It could be a single share wrapped around a chewed piece of gum for all it matters to us.

We want him in the room. We want him interrupting a discussion of expanding replay by joshing with Magic Johnson and Peter Guber, or shooting spitballs at Hal Steinbrenner, or making those suspicious coughing noises you heard in the fraternity trial scene in Animal House when David Glass starts to speak.

I mean, if he's not going to do that, what the hell is the point in him having the shares to begin with?

We're not saying he can't be an owner. We wouldn't give a damn if we had a railroad car full of them. He's got money, he spends it on the Mets, and the planet continues to rotate as always.

But he has a position in society to uphold, to afflict the comfortable through humor, and if he gets that close to the über-comfortable and doesn't do so, well, the hell with that.

I mean, it's not like the rest of the baseball owners are capable of thigh-slapping, commode-hugging good times. Greg Proops does not own a piece of the Giants, Kathleen Madigan isn't a Cardinal shareholder, Stephen Wright doesn't consider the owner's box at Fenway Park a time-share, and Ron White doesn't get to vote on firing the manager of the Rangers or Astros.

Most baseball owners are what most baseball owners have always been -- old, white millionaires or, more recently, billionaires. The last owner with a discernible sense of humor was Ted Turner, who's been out of the day-to-day operations of the Atlanta Braves since the early '80s, and Bill Veeck, the master of the art who's been dead since 1986. The late Bob Hope owned a chunk of the Cleveland Indians, and tried to buy the old Washington Senators before they moved to Texas.

Now? Well, I suppose Peter Angelos has a sense of humor, but we haven't really seen it, and the Cubs are always hilarious no matter who owns them. Still, hoots are in short supply in the national pastime, even after umpire Laz Diaz decides to play hall monitor, and the game's sense of humor has sort of stalled at the Icy Hot-in-Stephen Strasburg's-jock stage.

Thus, Maher has small shoes to fill, but lots of prying eyes demanding that he bring the laughs no matter how silent a partner he is supposed to be. There is a lot of pressure on him, and we expect him to deliver. The Wilpons aren't funny, except in a particularly mordant way, the Dodgers got out of the comedy business when Frank McCourt was given a billion dollars to go away, kind of. Owners don't do humor, period.

So you can see where we expect more of Maher than we would of, say, Bob Castellini or John Fisher. Baseball fans want what he has been selling for years, and if he has been proscribed from doing what he does best, then we're going to have to shake our heads disgustedly and move on to someone else. Anyone else.

Which reminds us -- the backdrop on Chris Rock's HBO specials looks a lot like the Colorado Rockies' logo. I'll bet he's a lot funnier than Dick and Charlie Monfort.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.


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