Nice guys finish first: Thoughts on the World Series

By Dennis Prager

I have never agreed with baseball manager Leo Durocher’s famous statement, “Nice guys finish last.” Weak guys usually finish last, but “nice” and “weak” are very different. And over the long haul of life, the decent do better than the indecent.

But even if you agree with Durocher, you have to admit that this year in Durocher’s profession, the guys who finished first are very nice guys.

I will not feign disinterest. I am delighted the Anaheim Angels won the World Series. Since I moved to Southern California 27 years ago, I have been waiting for some joy from this team. But the major reason for my happiness is that the Angels are a bunch of nice guys – not a prima donna among them and nearly all entirely unknown to almost anyone outside of Southern California (and probably to most people in Southern California, too).

How unknown? When Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, awarded the Series’ Most Valuable Player trophy to Angels third baseman Troy Glaus, he mispronounced Glaus’s name (which is Glaus as in “floss”). He called him Troy “Glouse.” (Maybe he was distracted by the Mouse on Angels owner Michael Eisner’s T-shirt.)

I also loved the win because I prefer Orange County’s values to San Francisco’s. No offense intended to the fine Giants organization, but the thought that the Bay Area – home to many of the most radical folks in America – would be celebrating a win over the traditional folks of Orange County was too painful to contemplate. And when San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown announced that San Francisco would “be embarrassed to lose to Anaheim,” rooting for Anaheim became a moral obligation.

And who could not love the fact that neither the New York Yankees nor the Atlanta Braves moved past the first round of playoffs? The Yankees players are paid as much as the Angels and Giants teams combined. And, as for the Braves, for those of us who believe America is a good country, it is hard to care for a team partly owned by, and which plays in a stadium named after, Ted Turner.

Now, for some things I didn’t like.

I did not like all the little sons of players in the Giants’ dugout. Whether it was manager Dusty Baker’s idea – his 3-year-old son was so ubiquitous, he had to be lifted by Giant J.T. Snow after the player crossed home plate lest the tot be trampled by another Giants player running right behind him – or just another San Francisco idea to be different and overthrow tradition, it reeks of narcissism. Perhaps when the nation got to see Dusty’s little boy crying hysterically when his dad’s team lost, the idea may have lost some of its cuteness even to fans who liked it.

I also didn’t like the Fox TV ads. It’s quite sad that Fox, America’s raunchiest and most superficial network, has the rights to televise baseball. Only 17-year-old boys with more testosterone than brain matter could find appealing any of the Fox TV series relentlessly promoted between innings. Not a single show interested this adult male. And since baseball has done everything possible to avoid appealing to young people, I don’t know whom the ads appealed to. I sometimes wish that all television became pay-TV, without ads. The price we pay in having our young people bombarded with primitive promos and beer ads is considerably greater than any nominal price we would be charged to watch the World Series. In my home, we muted all the ads to keep our sanity and to protect our 9-year-old’s remaining innocence.

And am I alone in finding Barry Bonds standing still after he hits a home run obnoxious (not to mention narcissistic)? Mere mortals run the bases when they hit home runs, not stand around and then slowly trot around the bases.

Apparently, the TV ratings for World Series games gets lower each year. I’m sorry to hear that. It doesn’t speak well for baseball – a sport whose owners and players’ union, in their boundless greed, seem to do whatever they can to alienate Americans from their national pastime. And it doesn’t speak well for the public, which apparently finds the lack of violence and the slow, cerebral pace boring.

But for those who watched two wildcard teams climb to the pinnacle of baseball and then watched one dramatic game after another, it was easy to fall in love with baseball all over again. Even if the Giants had won.