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Jewish World Review April 25, 2001/ 3 Iyar, 5761

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Consumer Reports


Zero Tolerance for baseballís green meanies


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THE BOSOX-YANKS series last weekend began agreeably enough, as Junior and I took an SRO 9-D-B train combo up to Yankee Stadium Friday night, with my slugger decked out in a Sox hat, warm-up jacket, t-shirt and sweatbands. I chatted with a suited-up businessman from Jersey, a diehard Bombers fan who was meeting two of his brothers, and we objectively reviewed the early results of the 2001 season. Upon arriving at 161st St., I bid him a hearty "See you at the playoffs," and then we dodged a trail of tallboy empties on our way to the New York Press loge seats out near the rightfield foul pole.

Boston's Hideo Nomo was wild from the start, doing a Chuck Knoblauch impersonation, not getting a ball over the plate. He loaded the bases without giving up a hit, then Tino Martinez hit a monstrous grand-slammer that effectively ended the game in the bottom of the first. Andy Pettitte, whom the Yanks always support offensively, was also shaky in the early going, but then settled into a demoralizing groove. If I were a Lone Ranger, I'd have punched the tub of lard in front of us, who, on every pitch, yelled, "Yeah, baby," in a Bronx water-torture trick, but I tuned the guy out and commiserated with a dozen Sox fans a few rows to the left.

During the sixth inning, there was an ugly episode in Section 31, when four young Aryans, hopped up on suds, all wearing buttoned-up-to-the-neck Yankee jerseys, suddenly started taunting the crowd with alternate cries of "Boston s---s" and "1918!" Jeez, it's only April and already George Steinbrenner's mock-SS troops are given passes from a halfway house on an overcast night. Minutes later, a swarm of security cops ejected the two ringleaders, providing the most excitement in the 6-1 Sox loss as far as Junior and I were concerned. I talked a little business with our seatmate Alex Schweitzer and hoped that rookie sensation Shea Hillenbrand would knock one out of the park, but when Carl Everett smashed a ball out to the warning track in the third inning, only to have centerfielder Bernie Williams make a superb grab, it was all over.

Like a lot of fans at this one-sided contest, we left after the eighth, and waited patiently on the subway platform where a bunch of drunks were whooping it up and mildly harassing a pair of sweet girls wearing Sox hats. The ride home wasn't too much fun: a dozen Princeton '01 coeds blared, not whispered, their silly escapades on this D train, and I amused myself taking photos of advertisements, while Junior munched on peanuts, pretending he was a character out of Conker's Bad Fur Day. The pandemonium died down when we switched to the 9 at 59th St., and we had a quiet ride down to Chambers St., where a lonely violinist was as ineffective as Nomo, with his fedora nearly empty in the deserted station.

Saturday was rugged (relatively speaking, that is-it's not like my business was being looted in Cincinnati), with a full schedule down in Tribeca town. I'd been reading till after midnight, a foolhardy deviation from my normal farmer's hours, and then MUGGER III woke me up at 4 a.m., insisting he must get dressed for his maiden t-ball game in the Downtown Little League. I tried to explain that the first ball wouldn't be thrown out till after 10, but his sense of time is as warped as mine. Mrs. M's been plagued by allergies this damp spring, but she soldiered to the field to see our youngest, a lefty, get a couple of hits-after vexing the other team with continuous foul-ball shots down the first-base line. He ran the bases like a jackrabbit when his teammates connected with the tee. Kids aren't supposed to keep score in this division-a no-exceptions directive from the powers-that-be in the increasingly dictatorial DLL-but it was clear our Giants were slaughtered on this opening day. Fortunately, they all thought they won.

SPORTING PROVOCATEUR
I was tempted to bring up the April 17 landslide vote by Mississippi citizens to retain their Confederate-inspired state flag just to be sportingly provocative, but I'd probably be sent to the showers. Had I been in a surly mood it would've been an excellent conversation piece: the hypocrisy of appalled Northerners, aghast that Mississippians exercised their constitutional rights, is surely one of the more dispiriting events of the past week. The Baltimore Sun had the gall to print a blistering editorial, essentially calling the people of that state neo-Nazi John Rocker imitators (the penultimate insult in some quarters), a stunning show of hubris considering that Baltimore is one of most racially polarized cities in the country.

The I-know-better-than-they-do editorialist wrote on April 19: "Mississippi has a bevy of problems that won't be solved overnight... So erasing the Confederate battle emblem from their state flag was an easy way for Mississippians to prove they're not the hicks everyone thinks they are. It was a chance to prove their ignorance is not conjoined with bigotry, a way to quiet some of the national laughter at their backwardness."

Take it from someone who lived, happily, in Baltimore for 14 years: The Deep South doesn't have a monopoly on "hicks." The Sun should've just demanded that Jesse Jackson fly first class down to Mississippi, demand a recount and maybe spark a riot while he was at it.


JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press (www.nypress.com). Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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