Those of you, dear readers, who are not used to the kind of mendacity practiced in the heartland of America must think the headlines of the past several days border on the absurd. If the governor of Illinois indeed is found guilty as charged, not only of seeking a payoff in exchange for an appointment to fill Barack Obama's vacated seat in the U.S. Senate, he could be convicted not only of a felony, but also of unmitigated chutzpah.
Having spent several years as a reporter during the years of the Daley machine in Chicago of the 1960s and 1970s, the news of corruption from downstate Illinois comes as no great shock to me. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich just happens to be the latest creep in a long line of them to occupy the governor's mansion in the last few decades.
However, it's not the world of politics that is enough to turn anyone's stomach so much these days as are the occupants in the world of sports, i.e. principally baseball. Don't get me wrong. I love our national sport. I have loved it from the Depression-era days when I grew up in the Bronx and adored the Yankees, probably because they were the only winners in an era of hard times. Yet, to pick up the morning newspaper and read about the $161 million dollar deal the Yankees signed with a pitcher who has never even won 20 games in a single season exceeds the bizarre, especially when the nation is enduring one of its worst economic crisis in decades.
I don't know CC Sabathia or his blood-sucking agent. But they and all the other high-priced players and the teams that sign lucrative contracts in the months before spring training ought to feel a sense of embarrassment for their insensitivity at a time when tens of thousands of Americans have lost their jobs and their homes. Compare their plight to the good fortune of those who only can run, hit and field a ball. Guess who truly is out of touch with reality? It may only occur to the players and their owners when the baseball season opens next spring and the box seats, parking lots and hot dog stands are half-empty. But then again, who knows? Baseball fans are uncommonly forgiving. They can drown their sorrows, regrets and anger once the umpire barks, "Play Ball!."
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