Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Levine Saves Baseball, Savors Ice Cream, Salutes Marine

Sports Line by Paul Levine...

It's almost the mid-season point in Major League Baseball, so let's talk about the National Pastime. Or ex-pastime. Everyone knows that cage fighting is the new baseball. And baseball is the new geriatrics.

Okay, let me state my credentials. I have not watched a complete baseball game all season, and I didn't like Manny Ramirez, even before he was caught taking female hormones or peeking into the locker room of the L.A. Temptation of the Lingerie Football League.

Let's start with steroids. I agree with Zev Chafets' New York Times think piece that players linked to steroid use ought not be excluded from the Hall of Fame. Questionable supplements have long been part of the game, though admittedly in limited use. Mickey Mantle was injected with a mix of speed and testosterone during the 1961 home run race with Roger Maris. Ted Williams occasionally ducked across the street from Fenway (during a game!) for chocolate milkshakes.

The Hall of Fame is not sacrosanct. As Chafets notes, it started as a tourist attraction. Is the Hockey Hall of Fame holy place? Oh wait! It is...at least in French where it's called Temple de la renommée du hockey and is located in Toronto.

Steroid use is (or was) rampant. Should the best of that era be banned? Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire and others.
As they say in Toronto, au contraire, which loosely translates as, "if you disagree, I shall punch you in the nez.

Some people think that there should be an asterisk in the record book noting that this generation's Hall of Famers played in the Steroid Era. To which, I say, absurde! What record book? Have you ever seen it? Hah! Who has it? Bud-Lite Selig? Leo Durocher?

LET'S SPEED UP THE GAME: If I were king of baseball, I would:

1. Limit the time allowed between pitches to 20 seconds and call a ball for a "late pitch."

2. Shorten the game to 7 innings because we have better things to do.

3. Extra innings would start with the bases loaded, similar to college football overtimes with the ball on the opponent's twenty-five yard line.

4. Neither the manager nor the pitching coach nor the pitcher's mother would be allowed to stroll to the mound in the middle of a game. The catcher may visit the pitcher, but he can only stay 30 seconds or the time it takes to adjust his protective cup, whichever is shorter. (I am opposed to all stoppages of play in crucial situations. I would ban timeouts in the last two minutes of NBA games, but that's a story for another day).

5. There'd be no infield fly rule, because a batter's lousy pop-up should be penalized with a possible double play, which is only fair, since well-hit grounders often turn into DP's.

6. Managers who are unshaven...

Or unruly...
will not be permitted to wear the team's uniform. Come to think of it, NO MANAGER should wear a uniform. How would Joe Paterno look in a Penn State football uniform? Managers should dress in a dark suit and hat, as did Connie Mack who managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 years.

7. If the American League has a Designated Hitter, an abomination, the National League should be permitted a Designated Steroid User.

AND SPEAKING OF STEROIDS: With or without banned substances, would anyone ever equal Barry Bonds' juiced 2001 season in which he hit more home runs (73) than singles (49) and recorded a record slugging percentage of .863, a .515on-base percentage, and a record 177 walks. His .328 batting average and 137 RBI's seem almost an afterthought. Wait! There's someone who might be able to do it. Now batting, Albert Pujols.

AMAZING BASEBALL FACTOID: This season, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals is 6 for 7 with the bases loaded with 4 grand-slams. Sacre Bleu!

THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU! Moving from baseball to ice cream, a smooth segue, if ever I saw one, I taste tested three brands for you. Dreyer's Slow-Churned low fat French Vanilla. (Marketed on the East Coast as Edy's). Haagen Dazs Mango and McConnell's Turkish Coffee. (Lots of Fat). McConnell's is a small company in Santa Barbara, whose ice cream was named best in the country by Time magazine. (Time named Adolph Hitler as Man-of-the-Year in 1938, so I'm not sure what they know about ice cream). The verdict: They're all damn good.

LT. COL. KENNETH REUSSER OBIT: Last Saturday, July 4, the Los Angeles Times published the obituary of famed Marine pilot Kenneth Reusser, who flew 253 combat missions in 3 wars: WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He was shot down five times and died in Oregon last week at 89.

Let me repeat that: 253 missions! Three wars! Five times shot out of the sky!

My father flew 16 missions in a B-29 before being shot down over Japan in 1945. If he were alive today and he read Reusser's obit, Stan Levine would have said, "lucky son-of-a-gun," and would have meant it as a compliment.

We salute the brave Marine.




  1. BOTH HANDS RAISED!!!!!! Enough, already, ugh.

  2. I, too, salute the brave Marine. And raise the same hand to signify disgust at our media and our shallow people. A singer died. Tragic. One day's story.

  3. from Jacqueline

    OK, as usual the baseball went right over my head (though I must say, I always enjoyed Dennis Quaid in The Rookie).

    The amazing 3-war aviator deserves all the ovations. Michael Jackson - oh, please - he was a very sad child molester. I'd had enough of him a long time ago. May it all be over soon.

  4. I failed to make one point, or if I did, I failed to hit it hard enough.

    Lt. Col. Kenneth Reusser deserves our thoughts, prayers and applause more than Michael Jackson

  5. Both hands raised as well.

    As for the designated hitter, let's decide if the American League and the National League are playing the same damn game at all, shall we? Do pitchers bat or not? I say yes, period. And hey, I'm a Tigers fan in the American League, but make all your players play.

    Oh, and if we're going to allow every steroidal anomaly into the Hall of Fame (what the hell, why not?), then can we also let Pete Rose in?

  6. Oh yes, please stop the incessant coverage of Jackson's death. It reeks of commercialism advanced by those who stand to gain financially. Now the city is being asked to deplete its fund for police emergencies to provide security for a memorial concert at Staples center. What gall.

    Paulie, if you downsize the number of innings in baseball you will eliminate the 7th inning stretch and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Serious business.

    Re ice cream. How do the two stand up to my personal favorite: Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia?

  7. And the only serious challenge to baseball as I see it would be the elimination of those Dodger dogs.

  8. A big HOO-ah for the Marine aviator (don't make the mistake of calling him a pilot) and a big yawn for MJ coverage.

    One positive thing the news has done is it's given me more incentive to turn off the TV and read.

  9. James O. Born7/07/2009 9:58 AM

    As usual, Paul, a very good post. I read about the colonel and love the idea that this guy risked his life almost 300 more times than most people do and still lived to be eighty-nine.

    I'm sorry that Michael Jackson died, he was a very good singer and dancer.

    My feeling is that the good Col. lived a happy life and left this earth feeling pretty satisfied. But of course I have no way to verify.

    For your information this reply is being made with voice recognition software. My post on Thursday will be an evaluation of the software. Pretty cool, huh?

    Jim B.

  10. Jim,

    I wondered why everything was spelled correctly.

  11. Paul, your point wasn't lost on me.If I had the arms of a millipede, I'd be raising ALL of them. What irks me is that the assasination of JFK didn't get the "in depth analysis" and coverage that this "entertainer/weirdo" will continue to get. Continued chaffing of my hide is brought about when the city of L.A. [which is broke] ask us to "donate" to pay for that elaborate extravaganza.

    Which segways into, why do they call it "America's Game?"......because, as you so well enlighten us last week, the percentage of college grads in MLB is abissmal...... Could there be a general "dumbing down" of America ?
    If the urgency of breaking news coverage for Jacko is any indication......'nuf said.