Thursday, October 20, 2016

ABOUT LAST NIGHT's DEBATE • Cleveland Heads to World Series

I was a 19-year-old college sophomore majoring in political science when I learned to recognize a certain kind of b.s. I wasn't a serious student at the time but I did habitually keep up on current affairs. I was an avid reader of the weekly newsmagazines — Newsweek, Time, US News & World Report — the New York Times and the local Philadelphia Bulletin. I was well armed to defend my opinions in the debates about the world that college students engage with gusto.

One of my roommates — the starting halfback on our mediocre football team — regularly throttled my arguments in our debates by his uncanny use of statistics. He could always take the wind out of my sails by referencing irrefutably numbers like 67% of this or 73% of that. My shoulders would shrink as my arguments bumped against the stony force of his numerical fortress.

Halfway through football season, it dawned on me that, unlike our more scholarly roommates — Doug and Wilbur — Toby seldom could be found with his nose in a book, much less any source of facts that could back his positions. When I began to challenge Toby to cite his sources he would feign loss of memory or retreat into ambiguity. Gaining the upper hand, I relentlessly pounded him to cite even one source.

Finally, one day Toby collapsed in paroxysms of sheepish laughter when forced to admit that his vaunted stats were all concocted. The four of us celebrated his tattered charade with some suds at the local pub.

Toby was a sweet and amiable guy, literally a Philadelphia Quaker, who is unbelievably close to becoming the next president of the United States. But I think of him whenever I listen to his characterological antithesis: the ignorant, immoral, unethical, unhinged, New York charlatan whose braggadocio would put even Art Modell to shame.

According to this celebrity telemarketer, everything President Obama or Hillary Clinton have done is a "disaster", an utter failure, and “the worst in history". Every country in the world is beating us in trade. Nobody respects us. Our generals suck. Crime is at historic highs. Our inner cities uniformly suck. Life has never been worse for African Americans. The Chinese and Mexicans outsmart us daily and will soon overrun the country. Unless radical foreign terrorists beat them to it.

Only the Great Telemarketer can save us! Want proof? He has built a Great Company! (Don't mention the multiple bankruptcies, failed casinos — how can you lose your shirt running a casino? — or ask to see his tax returns!) He knows more about ISIS than the generals. He will restore law and order. He will hire the best the people to run the government. (No other president has ever thought of that.) He will bring jobs, jobs, jobs to all of us who need them. And he's gonna build us a huge horizontal tower that somebody else will pay for.

And nobody respects women more than he does. Because he has a big brain.

This stuff is all so clear that the telemarketer doesn't need to cite a single statistic, much less offer a plan. His greatness is so evident, as attested to by Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Don King, and Pastor Darrell Scott, that only the vastest of conspiracies — comprised of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and elected officials in thousands of jurisdictions — could deny him coronation as King, er, president of the United States.

Donald Trump's political career began with his leading the birther movement, a bogus and bigoted dog-whistle assault upon the legitimacy of Barack Obama's citizenship status. His biography claims graduation from a prep military academy (five military deferments for the star athlete) and the University of Pennsylvania. But I suspect his resume omits his true place of higher learning: the Barnum and Bailey School of Fake, Fear, and Fool from which he undoubtedly graduated summa cum sleazy.

• • •

The Cleveland Indians won the American League pennant in Toronto yesterday afternoon, defeating the Blue Jays behind a rookie pitcher's splendid effort, some timely hitting, and baseball's best bullpen.

I didn't want the accomplishment to go unmentioned here, notwithstanding our muted enthusiasm for the team due to its horrid racist mascot, which represents in our view a narrow-minded clinging to offensive traditionalism evocative of the Confederate flag symbolizes to the South.

Apart from that, we share delight in the team's success. For those of you who will be jumping on the bandwagon for the World Series ride, we thought we'd share what we said leading up to the playoffs about the reasons for the team's success to some of our foreign correspondents stationed in places like Maine, Florida, Washington DC, and Seattle, WA.

First and foremost, the Indians are where they are because of a guy who can no longer run, throw, hit or catch. Manager Tito Francona, besides having a deep understanding and love for the game, has uncommon leadership skills that makes all his players focus on team goals as opposed to individual ones. His players have all bought in, which means they stay focused and persevere no matter the obstacles. Guys stay ready and confident, and step up to perform when called upon.

Ups and downs are inevitable in a long season. Francona has kept his guys on an even keel and a steady march. He has a track record of success in this that commands respect. No current manager has a better post-season record, which includes a fabulous 8-0 World Series record.

Add to this the fact that is difficult to name the one indispensable player on the team. It's easy to say Andrew Miller, the mid-season acquisition who was named MVP of the American League Championship Series. But where would the team be without, in no particular order, Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber, Carlos Santana, Rajai Davis, Jose Ramirez, Mike Napoli, Coco Crisp, Cody Allen, Brian Shaw, Dan Otero, and on and on. Every one of these guys has had bad games, days, or mini-slumps. But their teammates have consistently picked them up. You never know who will be the hero on any given day. It's no longer a surprise when it turns out to be Tyler Naquin or Ryan Merritt.

Individually, the team has only one everyday superstar, the shortstop Lindor, and he is just budding. But collectively, they have the best infield in the League, with bat or glove, the best manager, the best bullpen, and the best base running, a bona fide ace in Kluber, and a lineup where any spot one through nine can deliver the clutch hit or the sacrifice bunt. They have a bunch of guys who believe in each other and their leader. And they have home field advantage backed by Cavaliers momentum. They may be underdogs to whoever emerges from the Dodgers-Cubs series, but they have the best chance to win a World Series since 1954. And Willie Mays has retired.

Go Cleveland!


Everett Prewitt said...

"But I suspect his resume omits his true place of higher learning: the Barnum and Bailey School of Fake, Fear, and Fool from which he undoubtedly graduated summa cum sleazy." Love this.

Richard said...

Thanks, Everett! I appreciate you!