By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) I hate you, Paul Konerko.READ MORE: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman Has 'Stepped Aside' Following Independent Probe Into 2010 Sexual Assault Claim Against Former Coach
Did you not get the memo about sports these days? Our favorite sports and athletes are no longer the stuff of Matt Christopher novels and Wheaties boxes. They are suspect. They are violence, lies and cheating.
But, no, not you, Captain. It’s been all going about your business with a quiet cool and an affable personality for 18 years. The last 16 of them have been as a White Sox first baseman on the South Side, where after the close of your career this weekend they will certainly erect a statue of you along with those other jerks who never made it about themselves like Minnie Minoso, Frank Thomas and Harold Baines.
And you just had to pick the same year to hang ‘em up as Derek damn Jeter, didn’t you? So you could be overshadowed and modest. You avoid the lion’s share of retirement porn that plays at our natural fascination with literal and figurative deaths and that the public just eats up. Disgusting.
You could have gotten drunk and started a fire at a kid’s birthday party at least once, man. Or smuggled pills in from Toronto after playing the Blue Jays maybe. Instead, the fire department shows up to your team’s arriving flight and gives a ceremony usually reserved for retiring aviators. Grab me an airsick bag.
Do you know what it’s like to grow into one’s formative years as a Chicago Cubs fan with you on the other side of town? To suffer the slings and arrows of that dumb baseball Civil War this city is perpetually in by trying to retort with “Yeah, well, Konerko is… such a… pretty good guy… shut up!”?
To become self-aware and realize that Cubs vs. White Sox is the stupidest of arguments, yet still deep down wishing you could screw up royally just once for the purposes of arming my schadenfreude rocket launcher? Rhetoric-ruining son of a …
And your name. Paul Konerko. Like you were born in Hegewisch or played Little League at Beverly Park or something. That stupid “Paulie! Paulie!” chant that could just as easily translate to a tavern celebrating a successful marriage proposal or a dugout at Mt. Greenwood Park rooting for a base knock in 16-inch. You didn’t ask to be a man of the people, but you certainly didn’t work to avoid it. Do some steroids, you jerk. Throw your unsolicited personal politics at us. Fight Chris Rongey during pregame. Something, dude.READ MORE: SWAT Teams On Scene For Hours As Man Barricades Himself In Lemont Township Home With Child
You have more total bases than any White Sox player ever and are second only to a Hall of Famer in franchise homers, RBIs and extra-base hits. You’ve earned the right to be a bad guy, but you totally dropped the ball there despite a .995 career fielding percentage.
Chicago had zero baseball championships for 88 years, and then you went and hit five homers in the 2005 postseason, including a grand slam in the World Series. You gave the final out ball of the 2005 championship to Jerry Reinsdorf like some Student Council President prep school movie dork.
Now you’re the final player left from that team. You will forever be somewhere between a saint and a god in Chicago. You never gouged the team on a contract. Plus you stuck around an extra year to mentor another classy slugging first baseman in Jose Abreu. Pathetic.
And the farewell letter video? Holy hell, college football pregame shows couldn’t produce such drippy sap. (And way to write that cheese in all caps, loser.) Be gone. Get out of my sports world forever.
This isn’t what athletes are supposed to be about nowadays. Which is why it’s refreshing to have someone of your high moral fiber heading off into the sunset to go continue being a good husband and dad full-time. We don’t need that garbage around the park anymore.
Thankfully, you’re going away for good (although I’m sure you’ll be a swell guy and show up to the ballpark and charity events from time to time to rub elbows with a blubbering Hawk Harrelson and clueless fans who go for your kind of “nice” ballplayer).
Adios, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Paul Konerko. We who appreciate the glass-half-empty of sports won’t miss you.
Everyone else will, though.MORE NEWS: Data Show More Than 100 Carjackings In Austin Community This Year, Just 5 Not Far Away In Hermosa
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @TimBaffoe.