Thursday, December 27, 2007

So, Christmas is finally over. And it couldn't come soon enough. I must say, I got everything I wanted. Mostly because I didn't really want anything. But there is nothing like a nice simple ambition like that if you don't want to be disappointed.

There are two stories I think need comment, or at least I feel like commenting on, since nobody (at least I hope) really needs to know what I think about anything. First, is a nice positive story that hasn't gotten nearly the attention it deserves. As a frame of reference for how little attention it has gotten, the event took place in 2004 and I just heard about it this afternoon.

In the email I received, was a story. According to it, Denzel Washington was touring a US Army medical facility providing long term critical care to servicemen and women injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. When he was shown the Fisher Houses, in which family members of the wounded men and women can live to stay close to their loved ones, Washington reportedly asked how much a facility like that cost to build. When he received his answer, he took out his checkbook on the spot and wrote a check to cover the cost of construction.

The story, like so many received in so many emails, seemed to good to be true. So I did some checking up on it. And there are some embellishments in it, but it is, in the main, truer than most. Washington did not produce his checkbook on the spot, and the amount of his donation is not known, but he did provide a substantial donation to the charity that constructs Fisher Houses.

It is still refreshing to read about a celebrity actually doing something beyond vaguely criticizing the current administration and trying to forcefeed their political views (if their opinions can be called that fairly). None of us really do enough to support America's military and their dependents at home, myself included. I realize that a lot of us want to do more, but are touching capital for expenses like rent, food and utilities ourselves.

More praise should be heaped on Denzel Washington for his outstanding generosity. Perhaps, as a result, more wealthy Americans could be influenced to follow suit. Far better for them to do the right thing for the wrong reasons than to do nothing at all. No one wants to see Americans killed or wounded, but protesting the war and criticizing the President. Even electing a candidate who will push for a quick withdrawl from Iraq or Afghanistan will only accomplish so much. Even if no more troops are hurt, what will happen to those who have already been maimed? If recent American history tells us anything, it's that the American people will try to forget this as soon as possible.

But this is getting a little too serious for this blog, and dangerously close to the political. There are other, more responsible individuals who ought to be taking care of these matters so I can waste my time and yours ripping Dan Shaughnessy for one of his more pointless columns. Today, the CHB tells us that he's betting this is Jim Rice's year for induction into the MLB Hall of Fame.

Although I don't know why I should have expected anything different from a writer and thinker of his caliber, I'm still a bit surprised that so much ink was spilled on an argument that defeats itself. Or would, if Red Sox Nation were capable of rationally analyzing a situation like this. The real reason, according to the CHB, that Rice ought to be in the Hall of Fame is that he was the most feared hitter in Major League Baseball from 1975-1986.

I have made my views on that subject quite clear. I cannot understand how Jim Rice with his 382 career home runs in a much smaller stadium, hitting in a deeper lineup, playing in the American League can be considered to have been the most feared hitter in baseball when a third baseman for the Phillies hit 548 career home runs between 1976 and 1988. It just doesn't work for me. But let's leave my opinion on that subject aside for a moment.

The argument that Jim Rice was the most feared hitter in baseball from 1975-1986 should have no merit in a Hall of Fame discussion. It is totally, completely and utterly subjective. We are 20 years removed from the era in question, relying on the memory of baseball people and writers who, let's face it, aren't exactly a murder's row in the American intellectual scene, at least not since guys like Grantland Rice and Ring Lardner passed.

And the notion that the Mitchell Report has paved the way for Rice to go to Cooperstown is laughable. If Rice's 382 home runs prior to the steroid era are worthy of induction, then how do we exclude Dale Murphy, Harold Baines and Andre Dawson from consideration for Cooperstown, but roll out the red carpet for Jim Ed? They all hit more home runs. They (with the possible exception of Baines in a few years) played for teams that were worse than any Red Sox team in the Rice era.

I didn't particularly understand the connection between Rice potentially making the cut for the Hall of Fame and the posthumous award being given to the late Larry Whiteside. Larry Whiteside wrote about a lot of sports stories in his career. Simply because he covered baseball in the town in which Rice played doesn't mean an immortal hand or eye has framed this fearful symmetry (with apologies to William Blake).

The real story is that the Jim Rice for Cooperstown movement is little more than a bullying effort by a small-minded pressure group. Red Sox Nation has decided that Jim Rice acquired merits in retirement that other players worked an entire career to earn. And if Rice is voted into Cooperstown it will be because Red Sox Nation had the muscle to accomplish what ought to have been impossible.

Somehow, Red Sox Nation managed to shift gears from loveable (at least in their own twisted world view) losers to despicable bullies in the blink of an eye. Cubs fans haven't been able to guilt (I realize that the Oxford English Dictionary might not include guilt as a verb, but then how many limeys have seen This Old Cub) enough voters into taking Ron Santo into the Hall of Fame. And I hope Red Sox Nation won't be able to bully Rice into Cooperstown, either.

In other news, tomorrow is the 28th of December. It's a day of limited significance. Unless, of course, your a BC fan and you get to watch your team face the Michigan State Spartans in the Peaches and Herb Memorial "Reunited and It Feels So Good" Bowl. Now, there are some who might attribute this hostility as the carping of a disappointed Notre Dame fan.

Trust me, it's not. I know BC fans can't grasp my position with their feble little minds. But it's better to go 3-9 than it is to win the Who Gives A Damn bowl for the 9th year in a row. Yeah, ND hasn't won a bowl since Newt Gingrich was whispering about a fevered dream called the Contract With America. But it's better to lose the Orange, the Fiesta, the Sugar and even the Gator Bowls than it is to win a game that's going to be trounced in the ratings by the Days of Our Lives. And maybe one day, when BC makes it close enough to the big time to play on December 30th, or even, God willing, New Years Eve, BC fans might start to grasp my point.

No comments: