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Madden: Baker's son gives us a Series moment

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Thank heavens J.T. Snow scooped up Dusty Baker's 3 1/2-year-old son before little Darren was flattened like road kill at home plate in the World Series game Thursday night.

I'm not particularly concerned about Darren's safety. A major-league dugout shouldn't double as a baby-sitting service, a toddler shouldn't be a bat boy, and what's that kid doing up so late, anyway? Darren Baker has about as much business standing near home plate at a World Series game as a member of the Pirates does (although it's a safe bet that the little stinker has more long-term potential).

I'm just glad Darren didn't get trampled because I didn't want baseball fans to have to pick their 10 most memorable moments again. A preschooler getting stampeded at home plate in a World Series game would have to be on that list. Ask yourself this: How would Ty Cobb vote?

Or what would Barry Bonds do? Competitor that he is, I've got to believe that Barry lowers his shoulder and turns Darren Baker into Ray Fosse Jr. I bet Barry would nail his own kid, too.

Getting back to MasterCard's 10 most memorable moments, many of them were senseless, not priceless. Heck, most of them weren't even moments.

Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive-games streak is not a moment. Moments don't last for more than 13 years. Ted Williams hitting .406 is not a moment. Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak is not a moment.

Getting past the list's most basic flaw, how in the heck does Ripken merely showing up for work every day finish two spots ahead of Jackie Robinson changing American culture? Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chasing Babe Ruth is on the list. Bonds passing all three is not. Kirk Gibson winning one World Series game with a walk-off home run is on the list. Bill Mazeroski winning the whole shootin' match with a walk-off home run is not.

So, the list stinks. But it's a list formed via the opinions of people -- well, of Internet geeks, anyway -- and we should never forget that opinions are like Kiss CDs: Everyone has one, and they're almost all stupid (although there's no denying that "Christine Sixteen" is a fine song).

There is one thing I do like about the list: There are plenty of modern-day "moments" on it. Baseball too often concentrates on selling nostalgia instead of its current product, and the list's thankful lack of a bunch of old-time crap indicates that baseball fans don't want to live in the past. (That said, how can Bobby Thomson's National League playoff-winning home run in 1951 not make the cut?)

There was one thing I loved about the pregame ceremony Wednesday to recognize the list: The presence of Pete Rose. I do not support Rose's reinstatement to baseball, nor do I support Rose being in the Hall of Fame. He besmirched the integrity of the game, and thus deserves his lifetime ban. I just like knowing that MasterCard can buy Pete an occasional "Get Out of Jail Free" card whenever there's a big promotion to hawk. Maybe American Express can do something for Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Since no Pirates magical moments were included on the MasterCard list, and since I always cater to Pittsburgh's great baseball fans, I would like to present my Top 10 Pirates moments:

1) Legendary announcer Bob Prince dives out of hotel room window into swimming pool.

2) Legendary announcer Bob Prince exposes himself in group picture.

3) Jim Leyland smokes his billionth cigarette.

4) Brian Giles questions Kevin McClatchy's financial commitment to winning even as he cashes $8 million worth of paychecks bearing McClatchy's signature.

5) Mazeroski's World Series-winning home run in 1960.

6) Pirates sign Andy Van White while letting Bonds leave town.

7) Steve Blass throws a strike in 1973. Drills usher in temple with next pitch.

8) Derek Bell becomes the ultimate Pirate: Lives on a boat and steals money.

9) Dale Berra kicks countless grounders but not cocaine.

10) Pie Traynor serves as co-host of Channel 11's "Studio Wrestling."

OK, so I ignored four of the Pirates' five World Series wins and most of their Hall of Famers. Too bad. At least the Mazeroski home run is there. That's more than can be said about the MasterCard list.

The Pirates' magical moments duly noted, we now turn our collective attention to Barry Bonds, the greatest Pirate ever, being on the brink of winning his first World Series. This also would be the first World Series victory for Darren Baker, assuming the Giants win it and he survives it.

Darren doesn't have any big post-Series plans should the Giants win. Just the traditional weeklong drunk with the boys and a trip to Disney World, where his dad is going to let him ride the roller coaster while not wearing a seat belt. If Darren is accidentally flung from the top of Space Mountain, we can only hope Snow is there to fair-catch him.

Mark Madden is the host of a talk show from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays on WEAE-AM (1250).

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