THE TWINKIE DEFENSE BEGINS: We’re just a week or two away from those four beautiful words (Pitchers! And! Catchers! Report!), and the Sporting News has the defending AL Central champion Twins as #1 in their pre-season rankings, I would imagine for the first time in history. However, I expect most pre-season publications to at least pick the Twins first in the Central, ahead of the White Sox and Cleveland “Baseball Team” Indians.
Link comes via the wonderful TwinsGeek. If you thought I covered the Twins a lot, my fellow Minnesotan John Bonnes writes a full column every day of the year, including in the offseason. Yesterday, for instance, he contributed an 850-word essay (complete with statistical tables) on the Twins’ signing to a minor-league contract of journeyman relief pitcher Mike Fetters. Now that’s devotion.
See also TwinsGeek’s sister site, WolvesGeek.
EVIL UMPIRE: Bruce Froemming, baseball’s longest-serving umpire, is in hot water today after he allegedly left a phone message for a female baseball administrator on which he referred to her as a “stupid Jew bitch.” Froemming has been suspended without pay for 10 games and also stripped of the coveted opening-day umpiring assignment in Japan.
Now it’s clearly not okay for anyone associated with baseball to spew such venom at a female official. But I must admit that if Froemming had directed the exact same phrase at the commissioner, I wouldn’t be quite so offended.
JUST ONE MORE WEEK ‘TIL THE “DECADENT BROUHAHA”:
NO-NAME DEFENSE: The Lincoln Journal-Star newspaper announced this week that they will no longer publish the names of sports teams with Native-American nicknames or likenesses. The Journal-Star joins the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which has had a similar policy since around the time of the 1991 World Series, and thus had considerable difficulty covering the Series four years later when the Cleveland Indians squared off against the Atlanta Braves.
The issue of “offensive” team nicknames in sports is one on which I have a couple of deep-seeded prejudices that best be gotten out of the way first: two of the three teams I hate most in baseball (the aforementioned Indians and Braves) use such nicknames. The Minnesota-based lobbying group AIM (American Indian Movement) picketed Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 of the ’91 Series over the Braves’ participation and actively cheered for the Twins- after all, we’ve all seen the sad, pathetic spectacle of Braves fans wearing Indian headdresses and moaning the odious “Tomahawk Chop” theme song; seeing that this is the same organization that tolerated John Rocker, it’s hard not to be offended.
I object to “Redskins” because it’s an actual racial slur, and to the Indians’ “Chief Wahoo” logo (though the team was named after Louis Sockalexis, a turn-of-the-20th-century player who was himself Native-American). I have less of a problem with more neutral terms such as “Chiefs,” “Warriors,” and even “Braves,” as they could be construed as not referring to tribal sensibilities specifically. And I must put mind to a survey published in Sports Illustrated two years ago which stated that a majority of Native-Americans in the US are not opposed to their likenesses being apropriated by sports teams.
As for newspapers blacklisting Native-American nicknames, I object not so much on anti-PC grounds as on journalistic grounds. For a newspaper to react to facts that it doesn’t like by pretending they don’t exist is simply shoddy, dishonest journalism- if the Journal-Star were virulently opposed to George W. Bush’s policies, would they be justified in removing “President” from his name? The approach is also counterproductive, in that it does nothing to hurt the teams financially or pressure them to change the names; no team above the high school level has been affected by the 10-year boycott of the Strib, which has many times the circulation of the Journal-Star. Why would the Washington Redskins, the principal target of the the move, feel pressured by the actions of a newspaper in Lincoln, Nebraska?
Leaving sports team names out of newspapers is clearly a fruitless activist cause of questionable journalistic legitimacy- so how long before Howell Raines hops on board?
I FEEL A NEED- A NEED FOR LAPID!: Israel’s latest parliamentary election is over, and Ariel Sharon will once again govern The Zionist Entity as Prime Minister. His Likud Party came in first, after a collapse by a Labor Party that makes the Democrats’ recent performance in US politics look a triumph of visionary strategy and purpose.
I’m no big fan of Ariel Sharon, I wish he weren’t Prime Minister, and I don’t believe there will ever be peace for as long as he is in the picture. That said, the Labor Party’s strategy was faulty, to say the least, in nominating ultra-dove Amram Mitzna over Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezar (who, I believe could have presented a serious challenge to Sharon, especially considering Ariel’s corruption problems.) Mitzna didn’t help matters with his ridiculous plans to immediately enter into negotiations with Yasser Arafat over withdrawl from the West Bank regardless of terrorism- followed by promises to unilaterally withdraw if negotiations were to fail. Huh? We may not love Sharon’s thus-far-fruitless get-tough approach, but it’s certainly preferable to the abject surrender favored by Mitzna & Co.
One bright spot from the super-fractious election was the rise of the center-right Shinui Party and its charismatic leader, Tommy Lapid; the party fell only one seat behind Labor to finish third. Lapid is exactly what is needed in American politics: a secular Jewish leader who is tough on issues of terrorism, yet not entirely opposed to peace, and ardently against right-wing attempts to impose theocracy. I guess the closest we’ve got is John McCain, but he’s not running for president again anytime soon, and he’s not a Jew.
Could Lapid be Israel’s first Kosher Scoop Jackson?
Regardless of what the results were, we should all be thankful that this election happened, because there aren’t too many of those going on in that part of the world these days. The historical miracle that is the State of Israel continues…
MORE REGIME CHANGE AT NYPRESS: The Editor-in-Chief’s job at New York Press has had a rate of turnover lately that’s reminiscent of the Soviet Communist dictatorship, circa 1983-’84. First longtime editor John Strausbaugh (the Brezhnev figure) was fired when the paper was sold at Christmastime. Then the editorship of his replacement, Lisa “Andropov” Kearns, lasted all of three weeks until she announced her resignation last week. Now, the New York Post’s Keith Kelly reports that Jeff Koyen, an American who is currently with an alternative paper in Prague called The Pill, and has written for the Press in the past, has been tapped as the new editor. Whether Koyen will be a Chernenko or a Gorbachev remains to be seen, but it appears some writers at the paper are either taking advantage of the leadership confusion or are caught up in it: this week the Press published a column by Jim Knipfel that already ran, two months ago.
MOST CHILLING QUOTE IN RECENT MEMORY: I just ordered a book from Amazon called “The Devil’s Candy,” an insider account of the making of 1990’s misbegotten movie version of Tom Wolfe’s “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” In the reviews section of the site is an assessment by an anonymous writer from Kirkus Reviews, which was written in 1991. Here it is (emphasis mine):
This movie struck its makers as ‘the definitive vehicle of dreams…the stretch limo of hopes and ambition.’ Stephen [sic] Spielberg’s take on what happened is right on target: ‘Brian [DePalma] is stepping into shoes that can be worn by other film makers. When he does that he’s caught up in the machinery of the studio system.’ Like watching a World Trade Center tower topple onto Wall Street.
This was written two years before the 1993 WTC bombing (in which the terrorists attempted unsuccessfully to collapse one tower into the other) and of course ten years prior to 9/11. DAMN.