Saturday, April 18, 2009

Might as well go nuclear.....

.... right out of the box

Stuck on the couch for a few days due to my back going out, I had the opportunity to spend more time on the tubes, as well as catch some baseball on THE tube. I was a HUGE baseball fan as a child, drifted away in the 80s and 90s, and have slowly reconnected in the past couple years. Thanks to no DST in wild west Arizona, and having glorious liquid crystal wide screen high definition cable, I was able to watch 3 ballgames in living color on Wednesday, April 15. That date is significant for a couple reasons that I'll explore here.

In Major League Baseball, April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day, to memorialize the day in 1947 when the Brooklyn Dodgers put a black man in the lineup, breaking the informal but very real "color line" that kept many of the most talented players out of the game, just because of the color of their skin. In this regard, baseball was no different from the military, education, industry and most other segments of American society at that time: it wasn't just whether you could do the job, you also had to have the right-- white --skin color. Jackie Robinson, as the first black baseball player of the modern era, had to be almost literally twice as good as the average white player, to be accepted. But due to his ability, and the strength of his character, he WAS accepted, not because of his skin color, but because he could perform. In subsequent years, baseball has seen more blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and god forbid, even Australians become major league players and stars.

The modern era of baseball is generally considered to have started in 1900. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. Thus, there have been black players in MLB longer than there weren't. Jackie Robinson deserves to be remembered, and honored for what he did. So does Branch Rickey, the President of the Dodgers who hired him, who famously said "my selfish objective is to win baseball games."

So how was he honored on this April 15? Every player, on every major league team, wore a jersey with Robinson's number, 42, and no name. Every player was introduced as "....number 42, ....". On scoreboards, the section showing other games which usually has a standard abbreviation that includes the numbers of the pitchers, just showed 42, because, everywhere, #42 was pitching. Although one of the Arizona Diamondbacks announcers pronounced that "beautiful", I found it confusing, because I wasn't sure who was who. In fact, in the Milwaukee Brewers game, no one seemed to realize that Craig Counsell was playing instead of JJ Hardy, cause, after all, they were both number 42.

The only exception I saw all day to the 42-fest was Paws, the Detroit Tigers mascot, who at least has a pretty cool myspace page.

The depths were plumbed when the DBacks Eric Brynes, who could easily change his name to Whitey Whitepants and no one would bat an eye, hit a homer; the Dbacks announcer Daron Sutton proclaimed, "He must be so proud to hit a homer on Jackie Robinson Day, since when he was an undergrad at UCLA, he wrote a paper on the importance of Jackie Robinson to the civil rights movement." Byrnsie may be pretty fly for a white guy, but c'mon, honky please.....

The whole thing reminded me of a Saturday Night Live skit "new Baseball rules", (sadly the transcript is not online). As I recall it, Phil Hartman plays Fay Vincent, the new commissioner of Baseball after A. Bartlett Giamatti died suddenly. As Hartman explains, because Bart Giamatti was so extraordinary, and so loved, he was changing his own name to "A. Bartlett Giamatti", the game was being renamed "Bartball", and all baseball players first names would immediately be changed to "Bart". When a reporter attempts to ask a question, Hartman says to him "yes, Bart?" It was hilarious 20 years ago; today it's a little too real.

When real life actions become reminiscent of an SNL skit, then, my friends, things have sunk to self parody.

Honor Jackie Robinson? HELL YES!

Honor him by praising what's good, and criticizing what's bad no matter WHO does it.

Baseball, at its best, is beautiful that way: hit a home run, "YAY!" drop an easy fly ball "BOO!".

Break the color barrier "YAY!" Make everybody wear 42 and mouth inanities "BOO!"

So the other significance of April 15? Tax Day, and Tea Parties. (Stick with me, this is not a non sequitor). All over the country, ordinary people gathered, in the finest traditions of the republic, to express their displeasure with a government that is spending more and more of the people's money on things it was never empowered to spend money on. Auto company bailouts? Carbon emissions cap and trade? Socialized medicine? Show me where those are in the constitution.

Many in the establishment media expressed bewilderment at just what was being protested. One CNN info-blonde tried to argue with a protestor, essentially asking him if he understood that this government is giving something for nothing?

I'll tell you what people are mad about.

People are mad about a President, a Congress, a media and an "establishment" that is telling Joe Average Hardworking American that he needs to be taxed more, needs to apologize to other countries, needs to be considered a possible terrorist if he is a gun owner, and on and on.

People are mad about somebody slicing up baloney and telling them "hey, look at this fine steak here."

And though many people are afraid to say it, people are mad that somehow we need to say "YAY!" to the first black president but can't say "BOO!" when he drops the ball.

And here's the point. We'll never be post-racial in this country, if we can't call a black president a bum.

I think ObamaTheMostMerciful(PeaceBeUponHim) and his ilk suck. I think he's a bum. Not because he's black, but because I think he's red.

We have a long tradition in this country of being able to say our leaders suck. People exercised this right repeatedly with George W. Bush in office. This right didn't go away on January 20.

I don't care what color the batter is. If he homers for my team, "YAY!" If he whiffs on what was clearly ball four, "BOO!"

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