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August 2, 2002

by Bill Hogan



Need qualified advice? Ask an expert. Somebody that 'knows the ropes', has 'been around the block' and 'seen it all'.

Good luck finding someone like that.

There are a lot of self-proclaimed 'experts' out there. People who think 'I do, therefore I am'. But how many really know what the heck they are talking about?


How many failed relationships has Dear Abby been involved in that it qualifies her to dispense advice to the lovelorn?

Does my auto mechanic know everything there is to know about the Ford engine in my car? And if so, if he's really an expert, how come I have to keep going back to him with one problem after another?

Office Depot has a commercial out right now that claims their crackerjack in-store sales clerks are all 'experts'. "Need help?" "Ask an expert". I bet I know at least as much about ball-point pens, manila envelopes and printer paper as the high school junior in aisle nine that plans on working just long enough to get that '83 Pinto he's had his eye on. But I don't claim to be an expert on office supplies.

Watch any financial program on television and you'll see a parade of so-called stock market 'experts'. Show me one – just one – that has made money during the current economic downturn. An MBA from Harvard is impressive, but it doesn't make someone an expert.

And since when does writing about football for a large sports publication make that writer an expert on football (or baseball or basketball or hockey)? But they are touted as such.

I guess in that light, with all the research I've done and the many times I've written about a singular subject, I may have to classify myself as a foam finger expert.

This past week, baseball commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA executive Donald Fehr received qualified advice - though I'm sure neither asked for it.

The unsolicited advice came in the form of a letter and sounded more like a plea rather than guidance. The letter, composed the weekend of the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, was signed by forty Hall of Fame members.

The signatures read like somebody's All-Century team roster: Mays, Ford, Gibson, Killebrew, Kaline, Robinson and Seaver. Men who, when it comes to baseball, 'know the ropes', have 'been around the block' and 'seen (and done) it all'.

These guys are experts in their field. And they've earned the right to have their opinions not only listened to, but acted upon.

If Ray Romano had ever been privileged enough to receive advice from Jackie Gleason about his sit-com, I bet we'd see a couple of 'Bang-Zooms' work their way into the dialogue. And somebody would eventually be referred to as a 'blabbermouth'. ("You got that Alice, your mother is a Bla-ber-mouth!).

It's like Beethoven giving piano lessons to Barry Manilow and Elvis showing Brittany Spears the correct way to thrust her pelvis.

Or Ichiro listening to Ted Williams talk about the art of hitting and hanging on every word that comes out of his translator's mouth.

And when Warren Buffett gives you a stock tip, you call your broker.

It's one thing to call yourself an 'expert', and it's another altogether when history proclaims you are one.

A car-dealer-turned-baseball-owner-turned-commissioner and a lawyer are in the position of determining the fate of Major League Baseball. And a bunch of guys who know more about the game than anybody want to help.

It's about time these two so-called baseball experts gave way to the real thing. It's time for Bud and Don to shut up, listen and do what they're told.

These great ex-players have a simple request: "To protect the game we all love and have given so much to, we suggest you agree to a qualified mediator that will allow you to find the common ground necessary to avoid a work stoppage".

You'd have to be an idiot (or a car dealer and a lawyer) to dismiss the sincere thoughts of the very men that made baseball America's pastime in the first place.

I guess if these guys were smart enough to realize that, baseball wouldn't be in this mess to begin with.

On the subject of totally screwing up the game of baseball, it can be said that Bud Selig and Donald Fehr are the undisputed experts in their field.

And if there is a work stoppage this year, you can look for these two clowns in aisle nine at your local Office Depot.


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