Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A hunger strike on Capitol Hill?

I'VE BEEN LIGHTLY  distracted from the he-said, she-said, marathon  in videoland over the Obama administration's  economic package that may yet produce a hunger strike by the protesting House and Senate Republicans.   Over in another  unavoidable universe was the A-Rod thing, the Major League superstar  whose salary from the NY Yankees could bail out several banks before breakfast. His real name  is Alex Rodriguez, and like some others in his line of work, he has openly confessed to slipping steroids into his body six or seven years ago.  Unlike some of my sports-minded friends, I haven't spent much time worrying about what this might  do to the purity of the game.  Trying to get professional athletes  in all sports to own up to their off-hours misdeeds is unappealingly time-consuming with little prospect of success.  

So it was with some relief that I happened to see a column by Bud Shaw, the always readable Plain Dealer sportswriter, who seemed to be a tad  blase about the  apocalyptic  rumbling in the sports world over Rodriguez's mea culpa.  "I wonder," Shaw wondered, "why so many Hall of Fame voters see Cooperstown as a shrine and dismiss the fact that generations of players used amphetamines to get themselves ready to play." 

Way back when,   one of the manager's primary responsibilities was to sober up his star pitcher before sending him to the mound.  The late Doc Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates revealed that he threw a no-hitter against San Diego in 1970  while sky- high on  LSD.   Ellis Kinder, the gifted Red Sox righthander, shacked up in a drunken hoot the night before he pitched a stunning game against the Yankees, later admitting that he was a better pitcher when he had loaded up on booze.

That was then.  This is now. Our national sports heroes are having to explain their steroidal silliness in order to succeed in their chosen profession.  Among millionaires it is the sort of sinful excess that can be cross-cultural.  Wall Streeters bulk up not on steroids  but, as we all know, with fat bonuses and other bloated perks of the aristocracy.  The flawed outcome is the same, I suppose.

Oh, while I'm in the other universe, there are other things to amuse us.  At the supermarket checkout the other day, I noticed that the magazine cover stories all were slurped from the same trough: A national obsession with flat stomachs,  and Jessica Simpson's angry response to critics who insist she's too chubby.   Time for a hunger strike, Jessie,  we thought,  as we sheepishly handed the clerk our credit card.  


1 comment:

Mencken said...

One of the most troubling aspects of the Bush Administration was their total disregard for the rule of law, due in part to their desire to play the game in a way that best suited their goals. Guys like Bonds, McGwire, and A-Rod....... just more of the same.