Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When idiots are allowed to publish

I love baseball. I love reading. I love reading about baseball. I'll read pretty much any book about baseball that I can find. Whether it's history, biography, statistical, or just anecdotal, I don't discriminate. I also know quite a bit about the game. I've played, coached, and umpired. I have a clue about the game.

Also, in a different life, I spent a few years in the military, in a lot of different countries, and working out in the diplomatic world, at various embassies around the world. I also majored in Political Science in college. I might not be the smartest guy in the world, but I do have a clue about the way the world of government works.

And the thing I now most is that the two don't mix. sure, presidents might throw out the first pitch, and a few of them are legitimate baseball fans. But the government and baseball? No, doesn't happen. I can tell you from personal experience that the State Department doesn't do baseball. In fact, they barely do anything sporting at all, and golf and tennis are used for networking, not actual competition.

So when an author tries to tie baseball to American foreign policy, I'm calling bullshit. Because it doesn't work that way. But sadly, one author is trying to do it.

I'll admit up front that I haven't read the book, and I won't. I won't waste my time or money. For some of these reasons:
Contrary to popular opinion in the U.S., the young Fidel Castro wasn't one of Cuba's best pitchers and was never offered contracts by American scouts. In fact, U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy once suggested that his lack of a big-league arm was a key reason Castro came to hate the U.S.

"An aspiring pitching ace spurned," McCarthy said, "can be a dangerous man with a long memory."
So that clears up the mystery. Castro didn't lead a revolution in his land because Batista was a murderous, corrupt dictator who was systematically raping his people and his land. The entire Communist thing was a myth. Marxism meant nothing to him. No, this was all a hissy fit because the "Washington Senators" wouldn't sign him to a contract. Boy, he showed us. He's really sticking it to baseball. And fortunately, all the people in Cuba love him so much that they've supported him in this for 50 years.

Next up:
How Washington-backed Contras attacked truckloads of native hardwoods headed to Nicaraguan baseball bat factories so the Sandinistas couldn't use the game to boost morale
Now, see, this might get me to read the book. Because I need to find out if this was an independent action of the guerrilla movement, or did Ollie North specifically order the attack. I just need to know the answer to this one. Because there is a difference independent action and orders from the top. And when the government (any government) is trying to win the hearts and minds of the populace, I don't see them doing things that break-down their morale. Doesn't really make sense.

Neither does this:
when it looked like the U.S. and Mexico might go to war in 1921, President Warren G. Harding sent big leaguers on a goodwill tour south of the border
I was a double major. Political Science and History. I don't remember this event. I'm not saying it didn't happen, but I've never heard of this before. If it did happen, I'll give the credit for this one. Because it's a terrible thing when a President uses any tool at hand to stop a war. Baseball had no business being involved in stopping a war. Don't they know how un-American that is?

And my favorite one:
During the War of 1812, a game among American prisoners ended in tragedy when a long hit prompted players to enlarge a hole in a wall to retrieve the ball, and English authorities, thinking they were trying to escape, killed seven of them.
Let's see. A war. Prisoners of war. Digging a hole in the wall. The guards reacted badly. Yup, baseball is guilty. An entirely innocent act ruined by the game of baseball. Ever seen 'The Great Escape'? Yeah, Steve McQueen just wanted his ball back.

The most damaging proof that baseball has been at the forefront of the American Empire (forgetting completely that America never had an empire) is this little nugget:
soldiers from the 116th Infantry Regiment Yankees won the "World Series" of U.S. European Theater Operations forces during World War II.
Yeah, that seals it for me. This must be a well-written book that proves the evils of baseball when the government becomes involved. We've all seen from the congressional hearings about steroids how effective the government is when it gets involved in, well, anything.

I hope someone reads this book, so I can borrow it, read the first 10 pages, and then ignore it. I don't doubt the guy researched the book, and he probably believes in what he wrote. But all he's doing is spinning the records to say what he wants them to say, and drawing conclusions that just don't seem to be there. His choice. His right.

I know, that before I criticize, that I should actually read the book. But I won't. I've seen enough to know I wouldn't believe any of it regardless. In the many countries I've been in, I've never seen evidence of the government using baseball to further foreign policy. And the State Department will use anything they can to further their agenda.

As far as the military using baseball, the only time I've seen that is soldiers actually playing the game. Like we did in the states when there weren't any foreigners around.

So I guess the next conclusion is that the military used baseball to influence government policy towards Americans in order to subjugate them. Someone should tell the IRS. I don't think they'll be happy.

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