Tony Gwynn's recent selection to the Hall of Fame and President Bush's request for 21,000 troops brought to mind a story about me and Tony that actually combines the two events.
I was broadcasting for the San Diego Padres. We were in New York to play the Mets. Tony and I shared a cab out to Shea Stadium. At one point in Queens the driver hit an oil slick, lost control of the car and we spun into a 360 degree turn. He was finally able to bring the cab to a stop, no one was hurt, but we were all quite shaken up. (Tony was so rattled that he only went 3-5 that night).
As we resumed our commute I said to Tony, "You realize if we had crashed there would have been news bulletins on every network, huge front page headlines the next day in every paper and they all would say, 'Baseball star, Tony Gwynn and a passenger were killed in a auto accident'.
My entire life would be reduced to "passenger".
One likes to think our lives have value, that we're unique and special and all the things Mr. Rogers told us. We're not just "passengers".
Maybe if Mr. President had to recite each of the 21,000 names he is requesting to do his bidding in Iraq he wouldn't be so cavalier.
Aw, whom I kidding? He wouldn't give a shit. Not only would those kids have gotten called up anyway, they would have had their names mispronounced.
You can read more from Ken at kenlevine.blogspot.com