Derek Jeter- A Man For All Baseball Seasons

By Larry Teren

derekjeterBaseball is the most beloved American sport probably because of the way one can pour over the performance statistics and twist it anyway he wants. That is part of the charm of kids looking forward to getting baseball cards and comparing the stats of the players with the cards friends have. Football may have more intensity to its current popularity but it is a team sport. Outside of yards gained by a running back or receiver and the ubiquitous quarterback rating there is not much for the average fan statistics-wise to drool over. C’mon- how many people compare one player’s sack count or passes deflected or intercepted to those of another defensive back?
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The Spy Who Wore a Catcher’s Mitt

Only in America could a guy be a major league baseball player for sixteen seasons as well as a famed OSS agent during World War Two but still be penalized by the IRS for failing to pay income tax while out of the country doing his spy work. I’m referring, of course, to the legendary Morris (Moe) Berg.moe_berg

Moe was at best a very good back-up catcher for several teams during the mid 1920-‘s thru the 1930’s including the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and Washington Senators, the latter for whom he was a vital member of a pennant winner. In 1932 and again in 1934 he visited Japan on a goodwill tour to help teach baseball to an eager Japanese youth. During the ’34 visit, he was by then secretly working as an independent consultant to the State Department taking photos and film of the landscape in various Japanese cities. This information was used in helping General Jimmy Doolitle plan the invasion of Japanese soil during World War Two. He also traveled through Europe taking notes while he rode the Trans-Siberian railway. Continue reading “The Spy Who Wore a Catcher’s Mitt”

Three Lockouts And Its Over

It used to be “three strikes and your out”. Now it appears to be “three lockouts and its over”. Workers used to strike in order to get the attention of their bosses when demanding more money and better working conditions. Now, its the bosses who are demanding more money- or a better share of the pie- and respect.

Once the partying last winter was over after the Super Bowl, the NFL moguls locked out the players from preparing for a new season, let alone playing one. Players were put on hold from going to the training facilities and doing off-season workouts. Trading of players between teams and the signing of free agents was suspended as well.
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That Cubs Disease

There is a disease that is mostly unique to Chicago North Siders although I understand some people have experienced similar symptoms in other cities and countries. I’m speaking, of course, of blind spiritual devotion to the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Once the fever is caught, it is known to last a lifetime. Efforts are made by those with affiliation to other baseball clubs to try to detoxify those of us who indulge in Cubbie Blues but most adherents are resigned to die hard.
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Do you still believe in heroes? A kid’s hero is usually an athlete and maybe a movie or television performer. I spent most of my youth in the 1960’s and was always a Chicago Cubs fan. My number one hero was Billy Leo Williams. He batted left handed although he threw with his right hand. Being a lefty myself, I hitched myself to his wagon. For sure, there was also Ernie Banks, who batted righty and was Ma’s hero, so I didn’t want to steal her thunder. The number on the back of Ernie’s uniform was 14 and that became Ma’s lucky number.

Although Ron Santo made up the third part of the fan’s favorite trio during the 60’s decade, I never did cotton to him. He tended to be a hot dog and did not endear himself to the opposition when he would click his heels all the way to the clubhouse after Cubbie victories. Despite compiling enviable statistics, it always seemed as if he hit his home runs late in the game when the score was already lopsided against the Cubs and the cause was hopeless.

Santo also got into a famous fight with the Cubs skipper, Leo “The Lip” Durocher. I felt that he caused friction and division in the dugout and it was a significant reason that the team never made it over the hump despite being loaded with talent.
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Prisoners of Silence

“Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” It’s like asking someone “œwhen did you stop beating your wife?” Questions like these more often than not led to no-win situations. If the answer was, “I didn’t”, the interrogator could take it to mean that the person under the spotlight never stopped hitting his spouse or if they were of a less suspicious nature that the person never had hit his wife. As for the political persuasion- even if one had once been a member but had quit five years earlier- it still made them guilty by association.
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