Thursday, August 10, 2006

I Hope You Can See This, Because Miggy's Doing It As Hard As He Can

In Wednesday afternoon's 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays, Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada got a little frustrated. After striking out in the eighth inning with the tying run on second base, Tejada apparently took some heckling from the Jays' faithful, and responded with an "obscene gesture," if you want to use the vernacular supported by and The Baltimore Sun in covering the topic. Normal people would just say he gave them the finger.

I prefer to say he shot 'em the bird.

Here's the evidence:

Thanks to Leitch at Orioles Hangout for capturing the gesture for all to see.

My initial question upon hearing about this was what is it about saying the words "middle" and "finger" next to each other in that order that doesn't pass the litmus test for what is acceptable in the mainstream media? For a profession that prides itself on describing things truthfully, clearly and concisely, using "obscene gesture" instead of "middle finger" leaves too much open to interpretation. That could cover everything from an "Italian chin flip" to an Ace Ventura-esque air humping.

But that's a journalistic morality debate for a different day and a more popular blog.

At Orioles Hangout, posters are concerned that Tejada will get suspended for the gesture, which would end his consecutive games played streak that stands at 1,033 games (as of August 10).

But outside of the streak ending, I just can't think of this as anything more than a humorous incident. This isn't a scandal. He didn't throw a baseball at someone. He didn't punch someone. In two weeks this will be completely forgotten.

When you're in the heat of competition sometimes you get annoyed and lose control, and giving the finger is such an easy and quick response. Most people have shot the bird to an overly aggressive driver or to someone taking 16 items to the Express Checkout at the grocery store. Sometimes you think someone has disrespected you by not voting to put you in the All-Star Game so when you hit a big shot you flick them off with both hands on the way back up the court. I once took off my goalie catching glove in an ice hockey game and flicked off a ref. It happens.

And as long as it's not something that you're doing chronically, it's not really worth any kind of outrage.

I'll admit that this is slightly worse than Gilbert Arenas' middle fingers directed at Celtics coach Doc Rivers because Miggy's ire was aimed at fans and not competitors, but any fans heckling a player probably aren't responding to middle fingers with the shock and awe that comes with never having seen obscene gestures.

Actually, Tejada probably made their day. They'll be telling their kids and grandkids about the day a former MVP shot 'em the bird.

Granted, as I said after the Arenas incident, if this was Gary Sheffield flicking off a group of O's fans I'd be calling for a lifetime ban. But then again, if it was Derek Jeter or someone else without a history of being a world class jerk, I'd probably just figure the fans were at fault. (Yeah, I know everyone hates Jeter and thinks he's overrated, and I agree that he doesn't deserve the national media hype he gets for every play he makes, but I can't take anyone serious who's questioning his credentials as a baseball player.)

As far as I'm concerned this is good for a bit of comic relief in another bad Orioles season. Now don't get me wrong, while I think it's funny once in a while, I don't want to see my favorite team's players making obscene gestures on TV all the time...

Unless they're really creative with it.

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