December 31, 2005


BASEBALL’S PHONY CLASS WAR: Why blame Steinbrenner? (Russ Smith, NY Press)

Even though J.D. throws like a girl, the latest NYC celebrity is a huge plus for Joe Torre’s team, since he has few equals at running down fly balls in center field. His addition to an already packed lineup is ominous for the Red Sox and the resuscitated Blue Jays. It doesn’t really matter that he might resemble the Bernie Williams of 2005 in a few years since his addition has already made the Yankees the A.L. East favorite, at least according to most sportswriters. I’d be more chagrinned if Brian Cashman had landed a young, workhorse-starting pitcher, but there’s time for that, and time for Boston’s management to recover. At this point in Damon’s career, I’d rather have Cleveland’s Coco Crisp—and not just because he has the coolest name in baseball—leading off for the Sox.

My most immediate concern upon reading about Damon’s sensible nod to the club who offered him the most was breaking the news to my 11-year-old son Booker, who’s dreaded since last summer that Johnny, his favorite athlete, would leave the Sox. Though very disappointed, he took this turn of events in stride, saying, “I’ll always like Johnny, but I hope he pulls a hamstring on opening day and goes on the disabled list.” [...]

More seriously, how can you explain Jonathan Alter’s unhinged online Dec. 19 Newsweek column, in which he thunders: “We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.” And Joe Conason, in last week’s New York Observer, was just as hysterical: “Recklessly and audaciously, George W. Bush is driving the nation whose laws he swore to uphold into a constitutional crisis. He has claimed the powers of a medieval monarch and defied the other two branches of government to deny him.”

You hear, from certain elements of the Bush-hating media, about Constitutional crises as often as the absurd cliché that the Yankee ballplayers are the embodiment of “class.” No wonder Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor who far prefers John McCain over Bush, to write in the magazine’s current issue: “What is one to say about these media—Democratic spokesmen for contemporary American liberalism? That they have embarrassed and discredited themselves. That they cannot be taken seriously as critics. It would be good to have a responsible opposition party in the United States today. It would be good to have a serious mainstream media. Too bad we have neither.”

But at least, as Alter and Conason point out, we do have a medieval dictator.

Is there any Yankee fan who thinks signing Johnny Damon was a good idea or any Democrat who thinks replacing George Bush with Dick Cheney would be good politics? These seem figments of media imagination.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 31, 2005 12:55 PM

Scott Boras thought it was a good idea to sign Damon, and he's been a fan of the Yankees since Steinbrenner started setting records for payroll.

And replacing George Bush would give the Dems a chance to go into the 2008 election filibustering Cheney's nominee for VP, which would excite the DailyKos base.

Posted by: pj at December 31, 2005 5:48 PM

Damon will do a good job even though he doesn't have an arm.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at December 31, 2005 11:34 PM