Bill Madlock in . . . The Nagging QuestionMay 1, 2009
On this date in 1980, Bill Madlock shoved a glove in an umpire’s face. He was suspended for fourteen days, the harshest punishment the oft-reprimanded Madlock ever endured in the major leagues. (Once, in the minor leagues, Madlock was suspended for an entire season for apparently using a bat as a weapon—or at the very least as a menacing prop to help illustrate his dark mood—to spark what a long-time scout on hand later called “the best fight I’ve seen in my many years in baseball,” but upon appeal Madlock was allowed to return to the field after a couple weeks.)
I would not normally begin a post on Madlock by focusing on his history of flying into on-field rages, and would instead begin by marveling over the lifetime batting average on the back of the card shown here: .337. My lord! Now that I think about it, this card features the highest lifetime batting average of any card in my collection. In other words, in terms of the most celebrated and worshipped statistic of my childhood, batting average, Bill Madlock reigns supreme. In at least one significant way this underrated card of an underrated player is the holiest of my cardboard gods!
He deserves to be celebrated for this, but I’m going to have to turn over that celebration to you, dear reader, because in honor of Bill Madlock’s May 1, 1980, suspension, I am suspending myself on this day, May 1, 2009, from writing posts on Cardboard Gods.
The duration of this suspension is in relation to an upcoming deadline (or perhaps oncoming would be a better adjective, as when it is used to describe the progress of a train) to produce a book-length manuscript that interweaves the tale of an anonymous, nondescript guy with considerations of that guy’s old baseball cards. I actually planned to temporarily stop writing on this site a little while ago, but I discovered that even the thought of not writing on this site was very difficult to absorb, so I didn’t stop, and the oncoming manuscript deadline hurtled closer, and now, with time growing short, I feel I have to act stridently against myself, as if I were the kind of scofflaw who only understands the harshests of punitive measures. So I am banning myself from writing posts on this site for one month.
I will return from this suspension to full active duty. (I may also make the occasional appeal to myself to shorten the suspension, but I’m hoping to channel my inner Kenesaw Mountian Landis when considering these appeals.)
Also, I am not banned from being in the stadium, so to speak, and so I’ll often be hanging around and very possibly even yelling my two cents from the cheap seats if any of the hundreds of open conversations on this site flicker with any life.
With that (and Bill Madlock) in mind, I hand this conversation over to you. Have you ever been suspended?
Oh, and one more thing. I’ve been meaning to pass along this link for a while: check out The Baseball Chronicle (created by former Baseball Toaster writer Phil Bencomo) for excellent baseball writing and photography designed to push beyond the well-worn ruts of the genre.