I can’t help but groan every time I inadvertently wade into some coverage of the O.J. Simpson debacle on television because I can’t shake the feeling that this nonsense is going to reinforce stereotypes about our hobby that we have been collectively trying to put behind us for 20 years.
After a most-welcome run of mainstream media coverage of our hobby that has been almost uniformly positive for several years, along comes this bit of silliness to turn back the clock a bit. Our high-profile auction houses have done a superlative job of upgrading the hobby image for many years now; indeed, even amid all this bizarre Simpson coverage, Bill Huggins of Huggins & Scott Auctions did a great interview on CNN earlier in the week, presenting the hobby in a good light even as it was/is taking a beating from almost every direction. The veteran Huggins, taped in his Silver Springs, Md., hobby store, cast the hobby in a positive light, even as he described O.J.’s impromptu autograph appearance at the National Convention in Chicago two years ago.
As CNN almost immediately switched to being “The All-O.J. All the Time Network” within hours of Simpson’s arrest, the blows to the hobby began in earnest. One anchor even managed to imply that the mere act of doing some kind of a business deal in a hotel room was something nefarious by definition, which, of course, is more nonsense.
Obviously, it’s not fair, but what’s fair got to do with it? It would be laughable how lost the various anchors and TV correspondents are in trying to sort out the story, except that it’s truly a serious matter, especially in light of the inclusion of firearms reportedly at the scene
I know this is almost certainly politically incorrect, but I also can’t shake the feeling that the irony of this incident is going to be nothing short of stunning. O.J., the despised pariah who was on the winning side of one of the great miscarriages of justice in our lifetime, is now being prosecuted to a degree way out of proportion to the seriousness of the crime precisely because he got away with murder way back when.
Does anybody truly believe that the hotel room incident as described would have elicited the vast litany of criminal charges if it somehow involved some anonymous schmuck rather thant O.J.? At least in theory, the charges involved are supposed to be evaluated without taking into account a double homicide that a majority of Americans feel he committed in 1994, but of course that’s not going to happen.
The cable TV chattering about sending Simpson to jail for the rest of his life – noting his already advanced age of 60 – sounds ludicrous to me in light of the charges that are reported.
And whether most people want to admit it, we don’t want our criminal justice system working in a fashion similar to NBA refs who seem to grant “makeup” foul calls to balance the scales after an earlier blown decision. That’s just not the way it’s supposed to work.
In the “For What It’s Worth Department,” two other observations come to mind. First, I can’t help but notice the low profile or even no profile of Pete Rose in all of this. Because of Pete’s notoriety and prominent role in the memorabilia business, I figured he would wind up on the cable circuit providing commentary, but it may be that he’s finally clammed up. That may be a good thing and perhaps even strategic: he’s likely gotten advice suggesting he dummy up after his last several public appearances seemingly left him even less sympathetic than before.
And finally, as the cable shows have been playing the same O.J. footage over and over again, I couldn’t help but ask: How can a guy who has reportedly played golf full time for a decade or more have such an awful swing? I am not suggesting that his clunky swing constitutes an additional felony – or even a misdemeanor, for that matter – but you would have thought he could have gotten some professional assistance over that span. And now it may be too late.