blind_html Fwd: "the fault dear Brutus..."

  • From: Nimer Jaber <nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 18 May 2009 21:26:21 -0600

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        "the fault dear Brutus..."
Date:   Mon, 18 May 2009 09:30:00 -0700
From:   Edwin Cooney <edwincooney@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To:     <edwincooney@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Hi All,
You might categorize this week's offering as light hearted, that is, unless you strongly or even violently disagree with my conclusions. Then, you might respond much as a batter does who believes he's either being thrown at by the pitcher or harassed by the umpire. I can't blame what may be wrong with our "national pastime" on conservatives and my Conservative friends can't blame this one on President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton or even on her husband. (Here's another nice little twist though.) George W. Bush, former president of the Texas Rangers as well as of The United States does deserve a smidgeon of the blame. After all--to paraphrase a 1994 book about the history of baseball's team owners--as a former Rangers president George W. Bush was one of "The Lords of the Realm." However, in this instance Mr. Bush's sins are probably venal at most. I believe Americans have the kind of baseball and baseball players we deserve. Most of them are hard working, conscientious, determined and dedicated if--ambitious men. If they're ambitious, Well, would you and I have it any other way?
Hope you enjoy what's here. There'll be more of this sometime soon.
Thanks once again to each of you for being one of my readers!
Warm Regards,

MONDAY, MAY 18^TH , 2009



Since 1869, professional baseball has been America’s “national pastime.” Like its fans, baseball is entertaining, and often grippingly outrageous. Recent scandals involving Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez remind fans once again that the game costs too much and besides — it ain’t fair anymore. The truth is that baseball is a lot of wonderful things, but fair is one thing it has never consistently been.

Baseball was born in small town America, but only large corporations can afford to run baseball these days. Back on Tuesday, May 29, 1922, the brethren of the U.S. Supreme Court (which then was populated with such distinguished personages as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Louis Brandeis and William Howard Taft) ruled in FEDERAL CLUB V. NATIONAL LEAGUE , 259 U.S. 200 (1922) that baseball was a sport not a business. That is, baseball wasn’t a business under the provisions of the Sherman-Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal statute that regulated interstate commerce. On that historic date, baseball owners got their piece of the pie.

Of course, back then practically all of the 16 major league teams were run by individual entrepreneurs or well-heeled families such as the Wrigleys and the Comiskeys. Even if the high court didn’t think baseball was a business, Americans knew better. Connie Mack, the man who owned and managed the Philadelphia Athletics, used to say that the best year was when your team was in first place through Labor Day, because if it went to the World Series, you’d have to pay the players more money the following year. You can be sure that Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy — whom some called “Mr. Mack” and others called “the tall tactician”— knew the difference between every nickel and dollar he ever spent.

Like its fans, the game has been touched by scandal numerous times. Most everyone has heard about the Black Sox Scandal of 1919 when eight White Sox players were paid by gamblers to throw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. That wasn’t the first time gamblers tainted the game.

Back in 1877, Louisville Grays pitcher Jim Devlin and three other Grays players admitted to “hippodroming” -- or throwing -- games. Devlin was the team’s only pitcher (they pretty much threw underhanded back then) and the ringleader. What makes this story so American is the irony that following Devlin’s expulsion from the National League, civic- minded Philadelphians made Jim Devlin one of their policemen! As the great baseball announcer Mel Allen used to say: “How about that!”

Imagine what ESPN’s Sports Center would look like if what happened back in 1912 happened today. Ty Cobb’s Tigers were in New York playing the Yankees on Tuesday, May 15^th . A loud fan spent the entire afternoon shouting personal insults at Cobb. The fan jeered his lineage, integrity and manhood. The Tigers appealed to the Yankees to do something about the fan without success. Finally, Cobb had had enough and went into the stands. Within a very short time, the fan was a bloody mess and the police moved in. It wasn’t even a good fight, but there was a reason for that. The fan, Claude Lucker, was missing one hand and had only part of the other hand as the result of an industrial accident. As if that wasn’t enough, when American League President Ban Johnson fined and suspended Cobb, the Tigers retaliated by threatening to strike. Cobb was too mean to be popular with his teammates, but with the Tiger players blaming the Yankees for the whole incident, for once he had their sympathy. The home team, as the Tigers saw it, was responsible for controlling the hometown fans. Johnson said that if the Tigers didn’t play, the organization would be fined five thousand “big ones”.

The players were as good as their word and, when the Tigers were scheduled to play the Athletics in Philadelphia on May 18^th , they struck. To avoid the $5,000 fine, the Tigers quickly hired seven St. Joseph College players and two sandlot players to take their places. The nine Philadelphia players, representing Detroit, Michigan for a day, were backed up by a couple of coaches, retired players who came out of retirement for the day.

As you might guess, the game was a disaster for pitcher Aloysius Travers (who would eventually become a priest). The A’s scored 24 runs off him and his teammates made nine errors behind him.

One of the hired players was Billy Maharg who, according to some sources, was a go-between in the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. His real name was, supposedly, William Joseph Graham — Maharg spelled backward. Here’s another twist for you: you could call him Billy Graham.

Twenty thousand fans paid to see the spectacle. You may ask did they get their money’s worth? This really did happen. If you don’t believe me, as Casey Stengel used to say, “you can look it up”.

Baseball will easily survive the hysteria over Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens and others who may or may not be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. You know Cooperstown, New York: that’s the American village where baseball wasn’t really invented.

Baseball is more than a game. It’s part true and part legend, it’s tradition, it’s the unpredictable, and, best of all, it is loaded with incredible stories all of which you and I have yet to hear. Above all, baseball is you, me, and the rest of America in the mirror.



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