|By David Whitley, The Orlando Sentinel,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 20, 2007 - With you-know-who barreling toward the home-run record, the last thing baseball needs is another embarrassment.
Sorry, Mr. Selig, but this can no longer be ignored. Major League Baseball's official hotel is Holiday Inn.
Guess how many teams stay at Holiday Inns when they're on official baseball business?
If you said it's the same number of postgame buffets that C.C. Sabathia has skipped this year, you'd be right.
To be accurate, we're not sure about the Yankees. They are one of four teams who don't list their road hotels. The other three confirmed they don't frequent The Nation's Innkeeper.
The Yankees did not respond, so I'll take a chance and say A-Rod and Jeter don't routinely bunk at Holiday Inns.
That makes it a tidy 0-for-30. Wow, what would it be if Holiday Inn weren't baseball's official hotel?
The company signed a three-year deal last year. Whatever it's paying, you wonder if it's getting its money's worth.
I tried getting a reaction from Holiday Inn but had no luck. Same with MLB. They'd obviously like this scandal to quietly go away. But like a Barry Bonds drug test, something just doesn't seem right.
The partnership is aimed primarily at fans. But official is official, right?
If Holiday Inn is good enough for baseball fans, isn't it good enough for baseball players? To paraphrase the players union: Hah hah hah hah.
That's insulting to all of us who grew up with the slogan, "The best surprise is no surprise." You knew what you were getting at a Holiday Inn: a decent room, a clean pool, a cheaper vacation bill for Dad.
And the really cool ones had a Magic Fingers vibrating bed. For a mere 25 cents you could try to sleep through a simulated earthquake.
Heck, back then a baseball player might actually be in the next room. Of course the average salary in 1971 was $31,543. This year it's $2.8 million.
All that money has come with a price as small-market teams bellyache that they compete. Well, here's an idea: Stop paying 300 bucks for a hotel room.
That's what one night will cost this weekend at the Westin Times Square, a regular five-star stop for teams. They get a group rate, but the definition of cheap is a $314 "traditional" room: king-size bed, 32-inch flat screen TV and "Heavenly Bed and Bath."
There's also a spa where you can get "a nourishing Mediterranean body wrap of organic tomato, artichoke and pumpkin."
What tired arm wouldn't love that?
But for $116, you could check in Saturday at the Newark Airport Holiday Inn. Sure, it's a little farther from Yankee or Shea stadium, but kids get to eat free.
If MLB were really shrewd it would make teams stay at Holiday Inn Express. You've seen the TV spots where regular schmoes are weirdly empowered by a night's stay.
One man performs surgery. A moron wins on Jeopardy. The Devil Rays could check in, go on a 48-game winning streak and pass the Red Sox on the season's final day.
As the winning run crosses the plate, the ump could say, "Hey, you're not the Devil Rays!"
"Yes we are. We stayed at Holiday Inn Express last night."
It would make a great commercial. Though if MLB really wanted to help its official hotel, it would occasionally put its players where its sponsorship money is.
The best surprise for fans wouldn't be no surprise. It would be seeing Bonds at the front desk demanding change for the Magic Fingers.
David Whitley can be reached at email@example.com.
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