Last year, ESPN paid Rick Reilly "ridonkulous" money to write an original 800-word weekly column. This week, though, he utilized his space to present a recycled version of a column he penned in 2003.
The newest installment of the Life of Reilly, "Make me MLB commish," not only follows the same template as other Reilly columns, but it's eerily similar to one he wrote for Sports Illustrated on April 16, 2003, called "Baseball, My Way."
The idea: Reilly announces his candidacy to replace Bud Selig, who required an "emergency charisma transplant" in 2003 and this year, was just too plain old to continue. On SI's backpage, Reilly's column was a stream-of-consciousness list, and this time, it's a numbered list of 10 suggestions.
He recycled five of them from his 2003 column:
2003: "a) Hitters can't leave the batter's box. Penalty: automatic strike. There is no reason for Jason Giambi to step out and adjust his gloves, jersey, hat, belt or cup after a ball. Yet he does it every time. "I don't even know why," he admits. "It's just habit." It won't be when he starts every at bat 0 and 2. b) Pitchers can't wander off the mound. Penalty: automatic ball. Sorry, pitchers won't be able to circle the mound after every pitch like they're performing Hamlet."
2009: "We'll put in a pitch clock.... Umps let hitters step out of the box to readjust their socks, belts, sleeves, gloves, jerseys and helmets — after a ball! They let pitchers fuss endlessly with their rosin bags, the rubber and their eternally askew cups, while we fans decide which of our peanuts resemble presidents. But with my 15-second pitch clock, we get the hitter in the box, the pitcher on the mound and everybody in their homes by 10 p.m. We get two-hour-15-minute games instead of four-hour sunburns. We get World Series games that kids can see end. And not a dime of ad money is lost!"
2003: "Speaking of which, real drug testing starts today. If a player's helmet size has increased lately and his chin has started to look like Jay Leno's, he'd better think about a wrestling deal."
2009: "We'll bring in Olympic testing. Saying "baseball players cheat" is like saying "wolves like hamburger." In the Small-Balls era, nobody — not the players, not the owners, not the writers — tried to stop it. Where were all these books when we needed them? But when I bring in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) — and let it test anytime, road or home — we'll finally see who's faker than Octomom's lips."
2003: "If a batter goes hitless in a game, he doesn't get his personalized "at bat music" in the next one. We'll pick it for you. For Bonds: One (Is the Loneliest Number). For Mo Vaughn: anything by Meat Loaf. For Ichiro ... no, he always gets a hit."
2009: "If you're 0-for-4, the crowd picks your at-bat music. Is it my fault if they choose "Nothing From Nothing" by Billy Preston?"
2003: "The DH is the rule in both leagues. I'm sick of seeing National League pitchers swing like they're trapped in a car with a bee."
2009: "The National League will get the DH. No more pitchers swinging a bat at a ball the way Paris Hilton swings a shovel at a moth."
2003: "Any spam-brain seated behind home plate who is seen waving at the camera as he jabbers on his cellphone — Can you see me? I'm on TV! — gets a free tray of beers ... poured on him."
2009: "And most important, if you're the dweeb fan on your cell behind home plate waving at the camera, the rest of your section gets to pour beer down your shorts."
This isn't to say that Reilly's criticisms aren't valid, but here is a rare columnist who can seemingly write about whatever he wants in sports. He can write about politics and relay it back to sports. He can write about sports that aren't really sports. With all that freedom, was it really necessary to re-use an old piece in the first place?