Boos in Boston for wife-beater,
but how about Philly fans?

Jun 27, 2006 4:34 AM

It took a little longer than I expected and predicted in this space a few weeks ago, but mayhem broke out in Stuttgart last week as England and Germany went to war again.

Over soccer.

Some may find this World Cup carnage fun, but there is enough war for all in the world today, with real guns and real deaths, without having to put up with more in sports.

I am not sure what the penalty for heresy is under the present Inquisition and reign of terror — the old one called for stretching on the rack or burning at the stake — but I will risk all and say I breathed a sigh of relief when Ghana eliminated the United States in the early agonies of the Cup.

If that be heresy, lead me to the rack and tighten the screws, or stack the wood and light the fire.

The U.S. defeat ended the tedium and wasted time rooting for our boys. In the good old spirit of American sportsmanship, some American writers blamed the officials, but that’s now moot and we can turn to more constructive things.

Like the abysmal ignorance of the Philadelphia Phillies.

They chipped in with their own take on American sportsmanship last weekend when they brushed off an assault charge on their number one pitcher, Brett Myers, and sent him out on regular rotation against the Boston Red Sox a day after he was arrested for repeatedly slapping his wife Kim across the face and dragging her around by the hair on a street corner.

A witness called the incident "disgusting," saying Mrs. Myers was shouting, "I’m not going to let you do this to me anymore."

As disgusting as the incident, the response of both the Phillies and Myers was more so.

The Phillies general manager, Pat Gulick, said he thought pitching Myers "was in the best interest of the club. He’s our best pitcher."

And biggest slob.

Myers treated the incident as just another day in the kitchen, or bedroom. He didn’t apologize. He didn’t offer any excuses, as if there could be any. He merely said the incident was "embarrassing."

His manager, Charlie Manuel, merely said that he thought Myers "could handle it, and did." He apparently was referring to the constant booing from Red Sox fans every time Myers walked on and off the field.

The Boston fans conveniently had long forgotten when the Sox also started a wife abuser, pitcher Wes Gardner, 17 years ago, a day after he had a fight with his wife in a hotel room in Baltimore.

Writer Lee Jenkins, reporting on the Myers incident for the New York Times, called the Boston booing "a referendum on domestic violence."

That’s a generous view. The real test will come when Myers next takes the mound in Philadelphia before a home crowd, where he is something of a hero, or has been.

The bet here is that he will draw more cheers than boos in Philadelphia. Wife beating is common. Top pitchers are rare. You can be excused if you shove your wife around or drag her on the street by her hair if you are a major league baseball team’s best pitcher. It’s "in the best interests of the club."

I was born and raised less than a hundred miles from Philadelphia, but since baseball bores me I never rooted for either the Phillies or the A’s, when there were A’s in Philadelphia.

Now, however, I find myself a passionate foe, and will root against the Phillies whenever and wherever possible. I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, who said the Myers incident sent a bad message to kids who watch sports. "When someone who has just been arrested for assault is the starting pitcher," Kim said, "it seems like there are no consequences."

The same issue of the Times that reported the story also carried a half page, in color, on how some parents now are paying $30,000 or more to have experts teach their kids how to be better athletes.

We couldn’t help wonder what the high-priced teachers told the kids about Brett Myers.