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Padres' Werner to Blame for Roseanne's 'Barr-Mangled Banner'

July 28, 1990|DAVE DISTEL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — Joan Kroc knows. Being the owner of a major league baseball team is not all champagne, cheers and excitement. It also comes with headaches and heartaches.

I hope she warned Tom Werner.

I hope she told him owning the Padres was more than sharing the team's experience of winning the National League Championship Series and Tony Gwynn's experiences winning batting titles and Mark Davis' experience winning the Cy Young Award.

Downs come with those ups.

In her tenure as owner, she also had to deal with losing two players to drug problems, listening to a star player complain that her hamburgers were poisoning the world and watching as her club president saluted hecklers with a most inappropriate finger.

And none of those problems were even of her own doing, except maybe hiring that particular club president in the first place.

The new owner, or at least the chairman of the new ownership by committee, did a very wise thing upon assuming command.

Tom Werner announced that Joan Kroc would be honored with a night of her own. It would be July 27. Last night. The gesture was nice, and it was fitting. The woman had ruled this franchise with grace and elegance since her husband, Ray, passed away in 1984. The community loved the Krocs, who made it easy by being the way they were.

However, being loved isn't easy.

Tom Werner knows.

Now.

Boy, does he know.

In the same week he was honoring Joan Kroc, and in the same week he should have been enjoying a remarkable upswing by his theretofore struggling team, he got hit in the face and eardrums by a public relations nightmare.

Roseanne Barr.

His Roseanne Barr.

Can you imagine two women so totally different in class and style at the same microphone in the same stadium in the same week? This is like one of those vulgar rap groups opening for a Neil Diamond or Barbra Streisand. It would be like hanging a pre-school finger painting next to a Renoir, except it would be denigrating to a 4-year-old to say he or she couldn't paint as well as Barr sang.

Barr, as everyone from here to Maine knows by now, attempted to sing the national anthem Wednesday night. What she did was screech the anthem, hitting every note imaginable . . . but none in the right places.

Can you imagine the chagrin of the guy in Detroit who was awakened by Barr's star-mangled banner on his clock radio Thursday morning? He probably thought there was a cat fight in his bedroom.

And that's right, Barr's version of the anthem got air time on virtually every radio station in the country, plus all major television networks. Dan Rather had it, for heaven's sake.

And that was just the audio.

The visual was worse.

When she finished, she grabbed her crotch and spit. I understand this was supposed to be a parody of what ballplayers do. Sorry, Roseanne, but that's even tasteless when the ballplayers do it.

What was she doing there?

Tom Werner invited her.

Uh-oh.

She works for Werner. She is a comedienne with one of the top-rated shows on television, which is sad testimony to the garbage people will watch. And she is not a singer.

But Werner asked her to sing between games of a doubleheader on what was billed as Working Women's Night at the ball park. Working women deserved much better. And I'm not sure Lassie wouldn't have been better, if Werner was compelled to bring a star to his new community.

So Tom Werner is to blame?

Surely, he did not expect to get what he got. No way in the world. He had to think she would prepare herself to make a sincere effort. You just don't mess with the national anthem, not here or any place else.

Unfortunately for Werner, the accountability is his. He is the chairman of this ownership group. He's going to have to answer for batters who don't hit and pitchers who don't pitch, and those things are realistically beyond his control. Thus, he is even more accountable for situations he can control or should have recognized as potentially explosive, and you have to remember that this person, Barr, mooned the crowd at a World Series game last year.

Ray Kroc once took over the stadium microphone to apologize for the play of his team.

This might have been an occasion when Tom Werner should have taken over the stadium microphone and apologized for his star. And don't tell me it would have embarrassed her. I don't think that would have been possible.

Right, Joan?

By the way, congratulations on your night.

And I hope you had a few words of advice for Mr. Werner.

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