Quick, name me one of the last five players to win the Roberto Clemente Award. Bet you could not do it. Edgar Martinez, John Smoltz, Carlos Delgado, Craig Biggio and Albert Pujols. Why is this significant? I bet you can name the pitcher who earned a six game suspension this week for losing it on a Gatorade cooler, the guy who was suspended fifty games for testing positive for a female fertility drug, and the player who last year charged up to the broadcast booth to attack an announcer who he felt had disrespected him on the air. This trio of course consists of Carlos Zambrano, Manny Ramirez and Milton Bradley.
In today’s media driven sports world, the malcontents and divas of baseball get way too much air time (I have not even mentioned Roger Clemens, A-Rod, Elijah Dukes, Brett Myers and a slew of other players making headlines for all the wrong reasons), while good guys like Melvin Mora, who distributes baseball equipment in his native Venezuela, fly under the radar. In fact, if you type “MLB players charity work” into Google, three of the first six results are about Dukes being suspended by the Nationals.
I am not trying to be hypocritical here, because I will admit I get a good chuckle when I hear about the latest shenanigans of guys like Bradley and Ron Artest. However, this does not mean there is not enough web space to also recognize guys like Jack Wilson, who has been nominated by the Pirates for the Roberto Clemente award four years running for his work in the Pittsburgh community.
Everyone knows about Clemente’s charitable work for earthquake victims in his home country of Nicaragua, so why not Mora for his work in South America? I certainly hope it would not take his death in a plane crash to get a little publicity. In today’s world where negative role models like T.O, Jon and Kate, and Amy Winehouse (I cannot name one of her songs but for some reason know who she is) dominate the headlines, take some time to recognize athletes who are making a positive contribution to the world.