STRIKE UP THE BANNED!
Now that the Baseball Hall of Fame has at last stood up for decency by banning Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon from its premises—Hall president (and former Reagan staffer) Dale Petroskey declaring that if the two anti-war actors had appeared at a scheduled event honoring the movie Bull Durham, it could have “put our troops in even more danger”—we don’t see why it should stop there. Given that, in Petroskey’s words, the Hall’s official position is that “as an institution, we stand behind our president and our troops in this conflict,” we have a few other suggestions for those who should be persona non grata in C’town:
• Tom Seaver: 300-game winner, leader of the 1969 champion Mets, accomplished broadcaster—and unreconstructed peacenik. At the height of the Vietnam War, with America’s fighting boys putting their lives on the line, Seaver declared: “If the Mets can win the World Series, the United States can get out of Vietnam.” We didn’t know anybody elected you president, Tom Terrific—and we hereby unelect you from the Hall!
• Jackie Robinson: Before he was the pride of Brooklyn, Robinson had his own brush with the law. While serving in the army at Fort Hood in Texas, the fleet second-sacker refused to go to the rear of a segregated bus—and then didn’t go quietly when MPs came to escort him off. The resulting court-martial may have acquitted Robinson, but anyone who disobeys the law and talks back to MPs in wartime is still guilty—in the eyes of America!
• Babe Ruth: He may have been the greatest hitter in baseball history, but he batted .000 in respecting his commander in chief. When asked how he felt about earning more money in a year than President Herbert Hoover, the Sultan of Sedition snapped: “I had a better year than he did!” And this at a time when the American way of life was being challenged by none other than Stalin. Grab some pine, Babe—or should we say, “Red”?
Now, we’re sure that nitpickers would say that if the Hall of Fame is going to start booting people out, it should consider racists like Cap Anson and Ty Cobb as well. We’d remind them that pressing for whites-only ball, as Anson did, and pistol-whipping a black man, as Cobb did, were accepted practices at the time—after all, during Cobb’s career, Woodrow Wilson was resegregating the federal government after 50 years of integration, and Warren G. Harding was sworn in at the White House as a member of the Klan. True patriotism, as Petroskey reminded us, can be measured in support for your president, so ask yourself: If the heroes of the all-American pastime had questioned our leaders instead of unthinkingly following them, just where do you think this country would be today? —Neil deMause
PLEASE SEND HELPWhile the first two weeks of the 2003 baseball season have found the Mets doing their damndest to prove that last year’s NL East cellar-dweller finish was no fluke, it’s too soon to declare this year’s team a disaster area—though Saddam Hussein probably should have stuck around Iraq long enough to recruit Armando Benitez for oil-well burning duty, as he’s become a regular human torch out there. Then again, the Mets are already stumbling off the field as well as on, what with the oft-injured Cliff Floyd nursing a sore Achilles—the same one, by the way, that landed him on the DL for 10 weeks in 1999—and Mo “Humvee” Vaughn experiencing the kind of knee problems usually associated with those of, er, top-heavy anatomies. (Sid Fernandez, come on down!) The likelihood that Floyd and/or Vaughn will be out of the lineup at regular intervals means that the Mets will need power help from the bench, in particular first baseman/outfielder—and designated reclamation project—Tony Clark.
A product of the Tiger farm system, Clark became a regular in 1997, and for the next three years averaged over 30 HRs and 100 RBIs before spine injuries caused the 6-7 switch-hitter to miss most of 2000. Though he represented the lowly Tigers on the 2001 All-Star squad, he was released after that season and seemed lost as a role player for the 2002 Red Sox, batting just .207 with a pitiful 3 homers in 275 at-bats. A non-roster invitee this spring, the 30-year-old won a job on the Met bench with a rekindled stroke and spirit, and he has already made his presence felt in the clubhouse with those rare qualities among pro athletes: humility and humor. Asked about his 00 uniform number, the soft-spoken Clark said his choices when he arrived at training camp were either that or 88—”and I didn’t want to hear any tight end jokes.” Given that he’ll likely get his share of playing time, Met fans can only hope there’s some tiger left in Tony’s tank.—Billy Altman
JOCKCLIPSIt’s no surprise that lifelong GOP hack flack Petroskey used his job at the Hall of Fame as a bludgeon against Dubya’s critics. Petroskey is a buddy of Dubya’s brother Marvin “Big Marv” Bush—the two spent hours at parties in Alexandria playing baseball trivia, the National Journal’s Carl Cannon reported a few years ago, and Dubya, long before he became president, got a lifetime pass to the Hall from Petroskey.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Mets: Going into Monday’s games, exiled shortstop Rey Ordoñez had as many RBIs as Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, Mike Piazza, Roberto Alomar, and Roger Cedeño—combined. —Ward Harkavy, Paul Lukas
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 15, 2003