Charles Johnson, the principal owner of the San Francisco Giants, retired chairman of Franklin Templeton Investments, multimillion-dollar Yale University benefactor, and enormous Republican Party campaign contributor, could quite comfortably live the rest of his life in quiet solitude. Instead, the 85-year-old billionaire is forging a new path as a comedian.
Most up-and-comers in the comedy world start with some open mic nights, but Johnson chose to make his debut on Wednesday in a phone interview with San Francisco Chronicle baseball writer Henry Schulman. It was an interesting choice, but the guy does have some serious chops.
“I do believe the Republican party has been better for blacks than the Democratic party has,” Johnson said. “You’ll get a lot of argument about that, particularly from the NAACP, but if you look at the results, the opportunity to rise in life is much better under Republicans than Democrats.”
Knee-slapping stuff, right? Well, Johnson also pointed out that he is “a believer in racial harmony,” citing contributions to African-American candidates including the recently defeated Rep. Mia Love of Utah. But Johnson’s best material may be his reaction to Giants fans upset with the $5,400 that he and his wife gave to Cindy Hyde-Smith in her successful Senate re-election campaign in Mississippi.
“I’m sorry that they feel that way,” Johnson said, in what Schulman described as “a relaxed tone.”
Get it? He said the words “I’m sorry” but made it clear he’s not sorry at all! Ho ho!
“I don’t like the idea of politics affecting anything that I do with the Giants,” Johnson added.
What Johnson doesn’t like the idea of is his politics hurting his bottom line, which was set up to happen because, once again, having more money than a person knows what to do with has proven not to be an indicator of common sense. Johnson’s political contributions – including $1,000 to Black Americans For The President’s Agenda, which created a racist ad in an Arkansas congressional race – sparked calls to boycott the Giants, since rescinded. That doesn’t mean individuals won’t be ditching the Giants because of Johnson, though it’ll be hard to gauge that with attendance already dropping amid the team’s drop from its early-decade dynasty of three World Series titles in five years. It just means there won’t be organized outcry against Johnson himself heading into 2019, which is probably all he wants anyway.
Of course, it’s not like Johnson is alone in requesting his money back from the Hyde-Smith campaign. Major League Baseball asked for its $5,000 back, and if you’re asking why a league would even bother sending that money to a Senate race in a state where it has no teams, well, it’s because Mitch McConnell asked them to. And you may remember earlier this year, when on page 1,967 of the omnibus spending bill, it became federal law that minor league players are not subject to minimum wage laws. So, it’s money well spent, and now money that MLB gets to ask to have returned because Hyde-Smith crossed the line from standard dog-whistle racism to unquestionable out-loud racism.
Lest anyone think that baseball cares about anything other than every last dollar, consider the other rising star in the comedy world, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred - who was busy this week not only overseeing a league in a political mess - but also one unveiling a deal with MGM Resorts to be its official gaming partner.
Manfred spent years building up his perfect gag, complaining about the slow pace of play in baseball and implementing goofy rules like no-pitch intentional walks to shave seconds off of games wherever possible, without sacrificing advertising dollars. Well, it turns out, the slow pace of play “gives an opportunity to be creative with respect to the types of wagers” that can be made during a baseball game!
Be sure to stick around as Fred Wilpon brings his ventriloquist act to the stage. You won’t even see the Mets owner’s lips move as the famously cash-strapped and thrifty New York club is reported to be in the running for multiplesuperstar-leveltalents.