Bock’s Score: This Week’s Winners Of The Dumb as a Doorknob Award

This week’s Dumb as a Doorknob award is shared by — drum roll please, maestro – NFL owner Bob McNair, a study in the arrogance of affluence, and Cuban first baseman Yuli Gurriel, proof that you don’t have to speak English to be stupid.

Both conduct their business in Houston, which is a sad state of affairs for that proud city.

McNair, owner of the NFL Texans, proved that being a billionaire doesn’t necessarily mean that you are very smart. He placed his foot firmly in his mouth when, as league owners were wrestling with the kneeling protest by players, he offered this not-so sage observation:

“We can’t have the inmates running the prison.’’

Uhh, what did you just say? Inmates? Prison?

Recognizing the stupidity of that remark during this sensitive time, McNair tried to dance his way out. Oh, he explained, he wasn’t talking about the players. Not at all. It was, he said, a figure of speech not meant to be taken literally. “I would never characterize our players or our league that way.’’

What ever happened to the old adage of say what you mean and mean what you say?

When his first explanation failed, McNair tried a different wiggle move. The remark, he said, referred to the “relationship between the league office and team owners and how they have been making strategic decisions affecting our league without adequate input from ownership over the past few years.’’

The Texan players weren’t buying that, either and before their game in Seattle on Sunday, almost all of them sent a unified message to their loose-lipped boss by kneeling on the sidelines, a sort of in-your-face message to McNair.

That brings us to Gurriel. He had the great, good fortune to hit a World Series home run against Yu Darvish of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After making his way around the bases without grandstanding, the way so many players in baseball’s millennial generation do, Gurriel took a seat on the bench and felt obliged to make a racial gesture at the Japanese pitcher.

Uhh, Yuli, that’s not polite.

Someone pointed out that bad manners, especially in the spotlight of baseball’s crown jewel event can’t be overlooked. So, like football’s McNair, Gurriel offered an apology, something about celebrating connecting against Darvish against whom he had very limited success in their previous encounters.

Sorry, that’s not good enough.

Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed a five-game suspension, explaining that “no excuse or explanation makes that type of behavior acceptable.’’

Because Manfred did not want to impact on the integrity of the World Series by stripping Houston of one of its more important players, the commissioner ruled that Gurriel could continue to play in the Series but will sit out the first five games next season. The problem with that is the event that triggered the punishment will be long forgotten by then.

Gurriel has a $12 million contract for next season. Losing five games worth of salary means his stupid stunt will cost him $320,855. Bob McNair only wishes that the price in goodwill of his knucklehead  remark  winds up being that small.


About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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