Bosox in 2000 Duquette: Buy a Slugger

| 11 Nov 2014 | 09:39

    Duquette: Buy a Slugger Last Saturday morning the family had a splendid weekend change of pace: Instead of soccer, DigiMon, a trip to 333 (which still hadn't turned on the heat, even though Oct. 15 has come and gone), a stop-in at Toys R Not Us for their slithery 50-cent rubber worms and snakes that Mrs. M hates so much and then relaxing at home, we made a journey out to Queens. Little Guyana, to be exact, where our friend Sandra and her husband Josh were having the elaborate Hindu griha bravesh ceremony to bless their house and ward off evil spirits. Naturally, we got lost along the way and stopped in the wrong part of town: upon knocking on a door and waking a sleepy woman in her bedsheet?it was 10:15 a.m.?we asked directions. She was gone to the world, but then a very nice fellow next door, sort of a Caribbean Mr. Green Jeans, said, no, we were in the middle of Little Trinidad and would have to drive clear across Linden Blvd. to find our destination. Well, it wasn't exactly the North Pole we were searching for, but we thanked him for his advice and got to Sandra's in 10 minutes.

    As it turned out, we weren't late at all. The satyanarayan was cross-legged and barefoot in the living room, in silent prayer, while a dozen or so relatives were working on an enormous vegetarian feast that I imagine went on till sundown. Mrs. M helped Sandra get dressed, while Josh showed the boys and me around, and then the service began. It was beyond my ken, but extremely uplifting nonetheless. The satyanarayan was at full speed, chanting songs and prayers, while Sandra, in a beautiful yellow dress, and Josh, all in white, followed instructions. It was a serene ritual: a toss of oil here, some mixing of fruit and potatoes there, powders and candles all about, and intermittently songs from the sidelines. One guy played softly on a portable organ, another a bongo drum and tambourine, others worked on instruments I couldn't identify and then a singer mesmerized the audience, most of whom were used to such affairs. To me, it was the most uncomplicated and pure music I've heard since being in a club in Santiago with Mrs. M about eight years ago.

    The boys were fidgeting and retired outside, bored, occasionally popping in to see if food was being served yet. I really didn't blame them: When I was their age my mother would drop us off at church for an hour, followed by another 60 minutes of Sunday School and I hated every minute of it. To this day, I can't remember a word of the sermons preached, but I do know the clergyman's sons were the wildest in the neighborhood. About the only other lasting memory of church days was my intense love of the song "Onward Christian Soldiers."

    We didn't get home until 2 in the afternoon and while Mrs. M napped, and the boys played quietly, I began to sort out all the rubbish that The New York Times has printed in the past week, especially about the failed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and more propaganda about their candidate for president, Al Gore. (The Times is getting worse than New Republic czar Marty Peretz on the subject of the new-persona-a-day Gore.)

    I trudged through the November issue of Brill's Content (which is actually more readable these days, if still mostly dumb, and far short of the 500,000 circulation that editor-in-chief Steve Brill desires), drawn in by the headline: "The Influence List: 25 People Whose Behind-the-Scenes Decisions Shape Our Media (And You've Never Heard of Most of Them)." Well, maybe Brill has succeeded in getting airline pilots and undertakers on his subscription list, but I have a hunch it's mostly people in the media and the list of 25 isn't too surprising. Is Brill really this condescending, to think that his readers have never heard of: Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld; CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour; Today producer Jeff Zucker; conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh; Meet the Press' Tim Russert; Times reporter Jason DeParle; Time magazine's managing editor, Walter Isaacson; Fairchild Publications' Patrick McCarthy; "Page Six"'s Richard Johnson; The New York Times' personal servant to Bill Clinton, Richard Berke; Simon & Schuster's Alice Mayhew; Oprah Winfrey; Maxim's Felix Dennis; and Martha Stewart?

    And what a surprise; for the blurb on the administration toady, Brill's assigned Gay Jervey, one of their worst writers, to the chore. "Berke does have a knack for being at the right place at the right time," Jervey notes, omitting the fact that most often it's way up Clinton's butt. She continues: "He even made a splash as a high school senior when he and a partner reported in the Walt Whitman High school paper that President Richard Nixon had been exposed to microwave radiation during the 1959 kitchen debates in Moscow. 'The wire services interviewed us after that story broke,' Berke notes. 'They were calling us the young Woodward and Bernstein.'"

    Another example of what havoc the Washington Post duo wreaked on journalism and the United States at large with their once-in-a-lifetime story: the likes of Richard Berke! Those fuckers.

    I also leafed through the double issue of The New Yorker ("The Next Generation") and although Dave Eggers' excerpt of his upcoming book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, was a fine piece of writing about the brother he raised when his parents died within a month of each other, it was overshadowed by one of most atrocious stories I've read in months. Meghan Daum, in "My Misspent Youth," details her desire to live in New York City from the time she was a teenager?specifically the Upper West Side?her attainment of that goal after college, her work as a gofer in the publishing business and freelance writer, and the difficulties of making ends meet in Manhattan. It's an article that's been done all too frequently: affluent college student gets sucked into the media world, living on ramen noodles, progressing to martinis and celebrity-studded junkets, and racking up enormous bills. She then describes her trials with credit card companies, utility functionaries, landlords, the IRS and drinking too much to forget it all. Through all this she couldn't live without cut flowers. But of course. The most nauseating passage is this: "Most heartbreaking of all, my accountant determined that my sixty-dollar pledge to WNYC?my Upper West Side tableau couldn't possibly be complete without the National Public Radio coffee mug?was not entirely tax deductible."

    Finally, Daum moved to Nebraska, where she found people who also listen to NPR "and there are even places to live in Lincoln that have oak floors." Mazel tov, Meghan: Stay put.

    Mercifully, it was time for the Bosox-Yanks game, in which Pedro Martinez, so stunning five days earlier in shutting down the Indians with six innings of no-hit relief to win those preliminaries, matched up against Roger Clemens, once the dominant pitcher in baseball and a Sox legend. On Friday morning, Junior, upon hearing that the Yanks had won another close game at the Stadium the night before, putting Boston two games behind, said: "Don't worry, Dad. There's a pattern emerging. We lost the first two in Cleveland and then won in Fenway. The same thing will happen with those darn Yankees." Then, making sure his mother was out of earshot, he added, "Because they suck, dude!"

    The pitchers' duel on Saturday never materialized, which didn't bother Junior and me a bit. Just seeing the Sox knock ball after ball off that Green Monster was good enough for us. No, it didn't make up for Bucky Dent in '78, or, for that matter, any of the humiliations the Yanks have smothered the Sox with, but seeing the Ks go up on the wall in Fenway, and hearing the fans chant, "Cy Young, Cy Old," and "Pedro for MVP," it did seem like a new era starting for the plagued team.

    But there I go, wandering toward Roger Angell-land. Junior's been a real fan during the off-season, sitting in "lucky" couches and ticking off balls and strikes. He's just learning the rules of the game?beyond t-ball?so it's fun telling him the history I've acquired in 44 years. In the cab on the way to school last week, I was listing the original 16 teams in the Major League?he couldn't believe there were no clubs in California: I told him to call Jack Newfield on that one?and fell two short. That night one of my brothers came over for dinner and he supplied the ones I forgot: the Redlegs and Tigers. Junior also couldn't fathom that there were teams called the Boston Braves, New York Giants, St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia Athletics.

    Sunday night's game was a bust and I went to bed in the seventh smelling defeat and the fizzling of any momentum caused by Pedro and Nomar Garciaparra on Saturday. I missed the ninth-inning ugliness by Boston fans and am glad I did (especially happy that Junior was asleep and didn't see this unforgivable barrage of bad sportsmanship). Look, the umps have sucked in this series?they ought to be replaced by robots, the kind you imagined from the '64 World's Fair in Flushing, with automatic replays?but there's no reason to intentionally try to hurt opposing players. Even the Yanks.

    I think George Steinbrenner was off base when he made the following comments to Fox-TV: "It could happen anywhere and I'm just sorry it happened here because we've been treated well here. Their manager [Jimy Williams] was my candidate for manager of the year until tonight when he really invoked it. He incited it, I should say."

    C'mon. If Joe Torre was consistently sabotaged by the umps, he'd protest too. And Yankee fans would probably react at the Stadium the same way Bostonians did at Fenway. I have little hope for tonight. Here's hoping the Mets play the Yanks in a subway series and sweep one-two-three-four. Which reminds me: Don't you love how Hillary Clinton hasn't gone to Yankee Stadium to watch her favorite American League team?

    Clinton Plays Trashball Politics Last Wednesday, Oct. 13, will be remembered in U.S. Senate history as the day Majority Leader Trent Lott grew a backbone. In refusing to cave in to Bill Clinton and Minority Leader Tom Daschle for a deal that would postpone the vote on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Lott finally mustered the courage to face down a president whose only concern is politics and his own personal legacy. Clinton, in an hysterical press conference the day after the treaty was defeated, a long session that The New York Times foolishly called a "forceful and focused performance," resorted once again to calling the opposition "partisan" and browbeaten by hardline Republicans.

    Neither is true.

    Perhaps the biggest and most transparent lie that Clinton foisted on the American public is that Republicans are now across-the-board isolationists; in this he's shrewdly building on the controversy marginal candidate Pat Buchanan has stirred up in recent weeks with his strange writings about World War II. In fact, opponents of the treaty included not only Sen. John McCain?I wonder how his buddies in the media like him now?and Sen. Richard Lugar, whose globalism is well-known and respected in the Senate, but also six former defense secretaries, four former national security advisers and four former CIA directors (including two Clinton appointees). Henry Kissinger vs. Bill Clinton on foreign policy? I'll take the former.

    Rarely has there been such unanimity in the GOP, even though the Democrats will exploit this issue in the presidential and congressional elections next year. Al Gore, who wouldn't dream of engaging in the "politics of personal destruction," immediately filmed a campaign advertisement damning the GOP. In a speech last Thursday to the Democratic Leadership Council, the Vice President said: "There has never been a time in my memory that issues of war and peace, issues of nuclear security have been handled on a party-line vote in a partisan atmosphere with personal invective directed at the commander-in-chief."

    I guess Gore was rooting around for nuts and berries in the summer of '98 when Clinton bombed a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant in order to distract attention from his Monica Lewinsky problem. Maybe Gore was meeting with Tony Coelho when his boss commenced a short war against Iraq on the eve of his impeachment hearings. Gore's political response and allegiance to Clinton should immediately disqualify him from the presidency. The man is almost as persistent a liar as Clinton.

    As for Gore's fealty to Clinton, he told The Washington Post last Friday that he's not sure if he'll solicit the President's further help in his campaign. He said that it's a "very personal quest... For me to be successful, I have to have a personal connection and line of communication with the American people." Whatever that means.

    There are isolationists in the GOP, just as there are in the Democratic Party (research the vote on President Bush's Gulf War and you'd be surprised to find out how many rabid hawks were doves back then). This is all politics and let's not pretend it's anything else. Clinton said at his press conference: "[The Senate majority] is saying America does not need to lead either by effort or by example. They are saying we don't need our friends or allies. They are betting our children's future on the reckless proposition that we can go it alone, that at the height of our power and prosperity, we should bury our heads in the sand behind a wall."

    And just what exactly would passage of the CTBT mean? Do you think for one moment that rogue states will abide by it? A madman dictator, like Saddam Hussein today, one we haven't heard of tomorrow, will be dissuaded from taking any course he likes by a piece of paper? "Uh-oh, I'd be violating the treaty if I develop nuclear warheads. Better scratch that plan."

    As George Will wrote in Newsweek's Oct. 25 issue: "Clinton said that every year of delay in ratifying the treaty increases the probability that nuclear weapons will spread to regions with intense national rivalries and to 'rogue leaders and perhaps even to terrorists.' Think about that. The most high-stakes decisions of nations, and the most dangerous desires of the likes of Saddam Hussein, can be controlled by a U.S. decision never again to test nuclear weapons? Such delusional thinking carries national hubris to new heights."

    The Weekly Standard's William Kristol and Robert Kagan, who wrote editorial after editorial that urged stronger action in Kosovo (so much for GOP "isolationists"), were effusive in their praise for Lott and the GOP senators in the Oct. 25 issue. The pair wrote: "Senate Republicans have blown the whistle on this charade, and they are to be congratulated and encouraged. This year it's the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Maybe next year they can press the administration to submit its amended ABM Treaty to the Senate, so they can vote that down too. After that, a Republican president can take over, rebuild our defenses, make the case to the American people for serious global leadership, and work realistically for a more secure world."

    Much has already been written about New York Times political hack R.W. Apple's astonishing lead sentence in his Oct. 14 article about the Senate vote, but it's so indicative of how the paper that long ago was respected has gone wrong that I'll repeat it one more time. "The Senate's decisive rejection tonight of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was the most explicit American repudiation of a major international agreement in 80 years, and it further weakened the already shaky standing of the United States as a global moral leader."

    He then compares the CTBT to the Versailles Treaty, as if that legislation and the ailing president touting it, Woodrow Wilson, are in the same league as today's soiled bill and the man allegedly behind it, Clinton. Wilson, at least, was passionate in his beliefs and died soon afterward; Clinton did virtually nothing to bargain with Trent Lott in the last several weeks. He was too busy playing golf. But when an opportunity arises to whip up the American people, to get on the podium and give a speech filled with lies and sanctimonious slogans, he's like a junkie with a spike in his vein.

    Meanwhile, other Times headlines: On Oct. 14, "Senate Kills Test Ban Treaty in Crushing Loss for Clinton"; Oct. 15, "The Senate's Harmful Vote," "Clinton Says 'New Isolationism' Imperils U.S. Security" and "Senate Vote: Partisanship Arrives in Foreign Affairs." Hmm, didn't know that matters of international significance were never "partisan." As the Times' home delivery tv advertisement says, the one with a grandmother holding the paper: The New York Times: every day a chance to learn something new.

    As for Gore, the Times feels its readers are so slow to pick up on the fact that they've already endorsed his candidacy, that it's now distorting headlines with increasing frequency. Latest example: The title of Bob Herbert's Oct. 14 column is "Gore Has it Made." Nowhere in the piece does Herbert come close to writing that. In fact, the gist of his article is that the Democratic nomination contest is going to be a long, drawn-out fight. For example: "There is a very dangerous divide developing for the Democrats as the primary season approaches. Al Gore has just about locked up the official support. He's been endorsed by more than 100 members of Congress and by Democratic officeholders from coast to coast. He is the candidate of the Democratic establishment.

    "But the voters are another matter. Mr. Gore is not connecting with the people. And time is running out... The danger for Mr. Gore is that if he does not find a way to begin connecting with voters, Mr. Bradley may change the whole dynamic of the race before Southern primaries come into play."

    Herbert ought to be pissed about that misrepresentation of his column. But maybe the benefits of being one of Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s butt-boys have rewards that go beyond honest journalism.

    OCTOBER 18