Sunday, January 22, 2017

Waiting for National Geographic to Weigh In

I grew up on and with baseball. One summer and he passed on three plus decades ago so I feel safe sharing this anecdote now, I hid a copy of a paperback "Major League Stars of 1959" inside my Dad-assigned reading, in addition to the school's summer list, of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. I am reasonably sure I got away with it.

The more I think about the less sure I am that I ever even finished Ivanhoe. Perhaps that's why I make it a point every Sunday morning to read Prince Valiant in the comics. Wikipedia's thumbnail on the comic lists "occupation: crown prince" (I kid you not).

I should add that it was no longer 1959 when I smuggled the paperback into the castle's keep, so to speak, but I didn't have a more current reference on baseball that was small enough to fit inside that tome and I ate, drank, and slept the game, a pathetic example of how far desire will take you but how much further you need talent in order to go the rest of the journey. If wanting were all that was necessary, I'd have been on a baseball card; instead, I chewed a lot of bubble gum.

I have yet to get to Cooperstown. As a visitor, I mean. It's the only way I'll ever make it, no matter how many years I kept my baseball glove, wrapped in soccer shin-guard rubber bands, with a ball in the pocket, oozing neatsfoot oil, in the mousetrap on the back of my Royce Union 26" bicycle. Some loves are always unrequited.

Maybe that's why I always cheer up when, at just about the midway point between the start of winter's gray skies and pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training, the 2017 Hall of Fame Selections are announced. And this year's class, I think, is superlative.

I hate discussing the "steroid era" of baseball, not so much because it was disrespectful to and hateful of the millions of fans who rooted for players who were, or alleged to be, jacked but because I'm not sure the past tense of the verb about all of it, is the correct one.

And it's that whiff of continuing uncertainty surrounding so many very talented men who may never be selected and who should and could have been considered, which saddens me. That said, again congratulations and I'm looking forward to the induction ceremony being televised.

As a Yankees' fan whose heart was bruised when he and Randy Johnson between them winning the requisite four of seven games, led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 2001 World Series Championship, and then was broken when he led the Boston Red Sox in breaking the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, I've always been ambivalent about Curt Schilling.

I see him as a great pitcher and a badly flawed human being (and I am being very kind) who is now championed by (I guess) the Sports Illustrated of the American Waffen SS, Breitbart who don't seem to realize HOF voter sentiment for Curt has been ebbing for some time (the reader comments on the Breitbart story are stunning).

This time around, he's the victim because he supported Donald Trump (not because of the 'funny' "Lynch Journalists" T-shirt or for his homophobia?). Yeah, maybe but then I think he does protest a bit too much at how little getting into the Hall really means to him, but then again I am a Yankees fan and what else should and could he say?

If it's of any solace, #38, by all accounts Ty Cobb was an a$$hole, and he got in, so just-waitamint, I think I lost track of my concluding point! Oh yeah, Nyahh!
-bill kenny

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