Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Bud to Moises: Urine a Heap o' Trouble

Bladder problem, Bud?

TO: Moises Alou
Wrigley Field
Chicago, IL

FROM: Bud Selig
Commissioner, Major League Baseball
New York, NY

Dear Moises,
Congratulations on the fine season you and the Cubbies are having. If the remainder of the season is anything like the first quarter of the campaign, baseball fans are in for a big treat.
I am concerned, however, at recent media reports, beginning with a story on ESPN.COM, about an aspect of your training regimen, ie., the soaking of your hands in your own urine. This apparently is done to toughen the callouses on your hands so they can withstand the rigors of a full season without the use of batting gloves.
Moises, I have never heard of this practice, let alone tried it myself, but I must say I was shocked. As you know, big leaguers like yourself are role models to youngsters around the world. Can you imagine the repercussions this may have? When one of the league's best hitters' training methods includes soaking his hands in body waste, whether it's No. 1 or No. 2, it's not hard to imagine youngsters everywhere, from the Dominican Republic, your homeland, to Los Angeles, wanting to follow suit. They think it will give them "the Moises edge."
I shudder at what could happen. A young mom, perhaps single, on a modest income and living in a rat-infested tenement somewhere, is trying to potty train her young son. Perhaps he's a bedwetter, with low self esteem. "J.J., go potty before you go night-night." "OK, mom, but I'm gonna use this bucket when I have to go, so I can save my pee-pee for when I wake up. We have a big game tomorrow. I wanna be like Mr. Alou."
Moises, what if the child bites his fingernails while following your example? What if he forgets to wash up before dinner? You, and Major League Baseball, don't want to be held responsible for that.
Even in Arab countries, where everyone eats with their fingers, men traditionally use their left hand while relieving themselves, thus keeping their right hand clean for eating. And they don't shake hands with their left hands for that very same reason. If you ever get sent on a goodwill tour to Riyadh and shake hands with an Arab, it would be a cultural slap in the face by MLB -- whether you use your left OR right hand! Should MLB ever expand to Saudi Arabia or any of the other Arab lands, your callous-hardening practices could throw their whole left hand/right hand traditions into disarray. The region is a powder keg as it stands now, Moises. This issue would not dampen the danger and possibly lead some radicals to claim their long-held traditions are under further assault from the West.
Allow me to offer two alternatives:
1. Start using batting gloves, thus obviating the need to harvest your own urine. There very likely could be endorsement money in this option. Madison Avenue would love to mount an ad campaign built around the decision by Moises Alou to forsake urine for batting gloves. Any number of sports equipment companies would leap at a chance like that.
2. If batting gloves don't feel like the right solution, how about pickle juice? Pitchers for years have soaked their fingers in pickle brine to ward off blisters. Some of the great names in the game have done this. If you chose to go the pickle brine route, I have little doubt a product tie-in with a pickle company, let's say Vlasic, could prove to be very lucrative in the commercial television/print mediums. The hygienic advantages are obvious, and the mothers and fathers of young ballplayers will recognize that you care about good hygiene being practiced among the next generation.

Finally, as you know, as commissioner of Major League Baseball, it is my duty to act "in the best interests of the game." I and my predecessors have done so when dealing with some very touchy issues, most recently the Pete Rose gambling controversy. That issue has dragged on for what seems like eons and, quite frankly, is a huge pain in my ass. Think of the worst case of hemmorhoids you have ever experienced, then multiply that by 1,000. That summarizes the Pete Rose case for me. I just hope this situation with you and the way in which your urine is used can be resolved without adding to my discomfort and causing further embarrassment to the game we both love.

I hope you have a very successful season, Moises, but please, think seriously about moving forward with a different training program. I hope and pray I won't be reading or hearing anything more about your urine this baseball season.

Bud Selig

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