Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

The Myth of American Sports

Babe Ruth

Image via Wikipedia

Let’s please get over the fairy tale that sports in America are the cleanliness that is next to godliness, and that our children are better for their existence. It is but another piece in the myth of American “exceptionalism.”

But if Freud was correct that we deal with our wrongheadedness by facing rather than denying it, we do well to dummy up and listen.

Last in this space I dealt with the Big Joke that is baseball, and its anything-but-level playing field. More will here be mentioned in that regard, but In Other News, as it’s called by the talking heads in media, “This just in”:

We’re learning quickly that college football players are fessing up to getting handshakes filled with cash, along with cars and oh, yeah, sexual favors from boosters representing our proud universities around the nation. And this comes from sportscasters who are old jocks who wear pimp suits and look like fire hydrants from the shoulders up.  Till now they’ve dared not to kill the golden goose of sports that gives them face-time on TV and nice salaries of their own. It was time for those has-beens to “man-up,” anyway.

Then the White Sox GM allowed that $30 million salaries for baseballers who aren’t worth it, is “asinine.” He failed to mention that what men in suits in the front office make on player talent falls into the same category, but those numbers are never aired.

Then there are despicably dirty little matters like the Super Bowl seating at Cowboys Stadium in Texas in this self-same year, when 1250 temporary seats were deemed unsafe under butts of any size, and most were shifted to other roosts and the rest had to make do with standing-room-only. I.e., the palatial Tower of Babel they’ve been crowing about since its completion couldn’t figure out how to get in all ticket-holding fans. Gee, in Texas that’s enough to make you lose your faith in God.

I won’t even bore you with what’s going on at the trial of Barry Bonds, but all the players who are dishing on him in court are still playing when they shouldn’t be, as long as they tell on somebody else.

And now there’s Ramirez: Manny will henceforth have to be Manny off the field; I had predicted just over a year ago that his would be a tragic tale at the end. So you get the idea: the Big Bird of athletics has had a nasty crack-up, in more ways than one.

This all began, well, at the beginning. Let’s commence with when Sox owner Harry Frazee, unhappy with five world series wins (including the first one) between 1903-18, sold Babe Ruth supposedly because Harry was cash-strapped and/or wanted to finance his stage production of “No, No, Nannette.” That is untrue: he did it because he was stupid. And between 1922-33 the Sox were last in the league a total of nine times.

Then when both Fenway and the third installment of the Polo Grounds in New York were new, and with the red stockings safely ahead in games, owner James McAleer forced the series to go longer by making manager Jake Stahl start a different pitcher in what should have been the last game. Instead, it let the Giants back in and eventually they tied the set.

McAleer did that because in those days, players were only paid for the first four games; after that, all monies went to the leagues and the club owners. That of course was the beginning of the need for a union but, hey, that’s a bad word these days.

Fans finally caught on to McAleer’s tactics and were willing to pass up the final game, which turned out to be a doozy (and won thankfully by the Sox), but fans stiffed the game just to keep that little jackass from getting his money from extra ticket sales. Do you think fans would do that today? Hell, no, they’re saps for anything: crooks, juicers, and criminal behavior; just say, “Play Ball!” and they’ll put up with anything, then complain about the loss of American character.

Then the Bosox bosses did all they could to keep blacks off the team. As late as 1946 a local pol shamed them into trying out three players of “color,” and one was Jackie Robinson. But ownership yawned in his face and two years later Jackie began his fabled career with the Dodgers–all because a man named O’Malley had the balls in Brooklyn that were missing in Beantown. One writer said the Jackie Curse turned out to be worse than that of the Bambino, and Robinson forever hated the Sox for that.

Actually, the Sox were a team divided by north and south, and with all the religion and politics that went with it. Still, they won that 1912 series.

That of course were the days when God itself was a racist and all was (supposedly) right with the world.

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