Thursday, June 21, 2007

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO KANGAROO COURT?

For some reason, I had a couple of 1991 Mets scorebooks sitting out. I think I had wanted to comment on them a while back, but I can't remember why. One of the articles had to do with Wally Whitehurst and Jeff Innis, and I was going to comment on Whitehurst, because I remember him being a member of the Mets during some lean years...but he put up some really good numbers as a Met. Maybe someday I'll write about him. But the article that stood out to me the most was an article on Daryl Boston, and his reign as judge in the Mets' Kangaroo Court.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a kangaroo court is a mock courtroom...and it was fairly common in the clubhouses of professional sports teams some years ago. You really don't hear about them now...I'll get to that. But they would be run for the players by the players, and players would be fined for certain transgressions...from fashion (wearing sneakers with a suit, for instance) to hustle, or lack thereof, on the field.

Daryl Boston was the self-proclaimed judge of the Mets' Kangaroo Court in 1991. The court was a concept that was created mostly because Rick Cerone was on the team (I can't believe Rick Cerone actually played for the Mets)...apparently, he started up a court on every team he played for. The article is funny, because apparently Boston really hammed it up. You can see that he had the full judge regalia - supplied by Mets manager Buddy Harrelson. (It's nice that the manager bought in, too - he was also fined for an undisclosed reason that year.)

The court started because Boston felt that too many players were leaving runners at third base with less than two out. So they were fined in the court (minimum fine - usually $5). Same for players who missed the cutoff man. Fashion applied, too. I love this quote, from the article by Steve Adamek:


Not all fines are baseball related, either. Fashion crimes, usually adjudged by Boston himself, considered one of the best dressers on the Mets, are also fair game...Reliever John Franco walked in the clubhouse one day dressed like Zorro, with a wide brimmed hat and a baggy-sleeved jacket. Franco was on Boston's hit list until Boston suddenly found himself the proud owner of the wide-brimmed hat.

"I'm one of those judges who can be swayed," Boston says, laughing. "You know, scratch those who scratch your backs."


Now, the event didn't really translate to on-field success (the Daryl Boston-era Mets were 77-84 in 1991, and 72-90 in 1992). But I like the idea. And I think it should apply to the current Mets. Every time Carlos Beltran gives half-effort running out a grounder, or anything, hit him in his $119 million dollar wallet. Up the minimum fine relative to today's salaries. But it would never work.

Players these days have thin skins. They can't take a joke like this. They would be at each other, and instead of bringing a club together, it would probably drive them apart. Also, there would be a zillion transgressions. The players are making so much money, they would gladly hand over money rather than hustle on a grounder to short, I'm sure. But if you combine the off-field and on-field issues, the judge would be too busy to play the baseball game. Broke curfew? Photographed around town with a woman who isn't your wife? Beating up a pizza deliveryman? Fighting with officers in a bullpen? Jeez - Karim Garcia's case file alone would overwhelm anyone. So you'd have to pick and choose your battles, and it wouldn't be consistent.

Today's game just doesn't lend itself to something like a Kangaroo Court. But if you know of a team that does have one, please let me know - that would be something worth following.

2 comments:

Rodrigo said...

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Southern Bureau said...

I couldn't agree more with Rodrigo's assessment of your post.

He makes some very valid points.