I have no stories about Tony Gwynn and I don’t plan on telling you about how many of his baseball cards I collected and how I rooted against the Padres in the 1998 World Series, but I couldn’t root against him. That’s because it doesn’t matter.
Nothing of my linking myself to Tony Gwynn matters… and that goes for everybody else too. What I’ve noticed in the past 24 to 36 hours isn’t about Tony at all, especially when it comes from sports personalities at least. It seems as though for mostly every one of them, it’s about some “connection” someone had with him. There's a lot of "I" and alot of "me" attached. Somehow, and maybe only for a moment, "they were there" with Tony for something. Somehow, they know all about Tony Gwynn and what he went through with his cancer. Actually, truth be told, many of them weren’t there at all. But suddenly, a great man and baseball legend passes, and everyone wants a piece. Sadly, the story doesn't become about Tony Gwynn at all, it’s about themselves. This isn’t a competition, it’s sad and this time right now is about the Gwynn family, no one else.
The fact is, Tony Gwynn may have been one of the greatest ballplayers and hitters we've ever seen. He has incredible stats, he was an incredible teammate, and he was also a terrific father and husband. As a baseball fan, he gave us everything he could give on the field. We all admired him, we all wanted to be him and we all were touched when he and Ted Williams stood together at the All-Star game way back in 1999.
Now don’t get on my back for this... I’m far from being heartless. Bleeding Yankee Blue runs on heart, you know us. We believe in kindness, giving back, and we’re very human here. But we also believe in doing the right thing. We also believe in feeling for his family right now. Sure, I saw the Twitter feed yesterday and I noticed the fans giving touching tributes. Fans get it. “RIP Mr. Gwynn.” “Gwynn was the best.” Look at baseball player and fan, Clay Rapada's tweet for instance:
Sad day .. RIP Tony GwynnHow about Brian DiSalvo on Facebook, another baseball fan:
— Clay Rapada (@pada5something) June 16, 2014
Those are 2 examples of thousands of fans, and it's those messages that the Gwynn family needs right now. But I noticed unusual items out there as well, and the man passed just 2 days ago. For instance, we all knew Tony was a dynamic hitter, but did you know that John Flaherty “was there” when Tony and Ken Caminiti would take BP at 2pm when they were in San Diego together?
Ken Caminitti and Tony Gwynn would have their own batting practice at 2 PM before home games in 96 and 97 while I was a Padre!This is important to baseball, why? In fairness, John tweeted a touching tweet before this silly one, and he should have left it at that, but he didn’t.
— John Flaherty (@flash17yes) June 17, 2014
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Gwynn family!! RIP Tony! pic.twitter.com/YAzBDxKRInInstead, John overstepped. Sure, it’s subtle and you can call me a real jerk for pointing it out. My point is, he made it about him... It’s not.
— John Flaherty (@flash17yes) June 16, 2014
Here’s another one; Did you know that Tony Gwynn was addicted to chewing tobacco and Bob Klapisch can relate because he used to chew as well? Bob knows how hard it is to kick the habit. Bob, so do millions of people. Smokeless tobacco is addictive. Let the man rest in peace. It’s a nice story, and the tribute you wrote yesterday would have been nicer if you didn’t suddenly string your own personal story into it. Don't know what I mean? Yeah, Bob decided to write this, intertwining himself into Gwynn's life:
"I was a junior at Columbia the first time I tried chewing tobacco. I was about to pitch against Penn when a teammate offered me a chaw of Red Man. It was almost the size of his fist.
'This stuff is awesome,' he said as I stuffed the clump into my cheek. He was right: the combination of aroma and chemicals went right to my brain, sharpening my focus, making home plate seem closer, while simultaneously calming me down.
That bizarre contradiction only makes sense to those who chew or use smokeless tobacco, more commonly known as dip. It’s the unspoken tragedy behind Tony Gwynn’s death on Monday, the story of a superstar whose life ended too soon because of his addiction."
You get the point. Click on his name for the full article. Is it wrong? No, but it's bizarre. Again ladies and gentlemen… this isn’t about Bob, or me, or you… it’s about the man, Mr. Tony Gwynn. He will be missed. There’s a hole in baseball without him. That’s it.
And Keith Olbermann. He did an entire monologue about Tony Gwynn and inserted himself and his miracle work of introducing Bob Shepperd to Tony and how he knew Tony well and did this for Tony and that for him too… and then through most of the dialog, he said, “This is about him.” Well, no it wasn't... Because a real sportscaster may have perhaps told the audience about a great moment about Tony, not about all they did for him. Keith rambles... he talks about being a pregame host once and seeing Tony. Keith said he was the one that made Tony happy. Keith was the one that gave him a gift. Keith was the one Tony loved and was a fan of. Really? If you're truly humble and if you're truly a friend, you remember the man, not the stories about you. I mean, the man just died. It's weird... and it’s a fail.
Tony Gwynn’s family is going through a tough loss. They struggled with his battle against cancer and lost... it's devastating. And I ask this; Before yesterday, how often did we hear Tony Gwynn's name from those 3 individuals and the hundreds of others that had stories about him the past few days? Not many. Why?
Now look, this is my opinion. I don't mean to pick on people, I'm merely making a point. It just feels wrong to me. Again, the fans get it, ladies and gentlemen. For them, it’s about the man, the family, the great memories involving a great player… somehow though, for the sports personality… well, they've figured out a way to make it about themselves. I don’t get it, and I don’t think I ever will, I'm sorry.
Rest in Peace Tony. You were simply incredible. My heart goes out to the Gwynn family.. and to baseball.