Jim Rice Polutes the Baseball Hall of Fame

Anyone from outside of the Northeast who likes baseball will eventually get beaten down by the Eastern media bias.  I had some feeling of this growing up, but really had it drilled home with Ken Burns’ Baseball.  You would have thought that there were only three teams in baseball as Burns waited until the last hour of the program to acknowledge the existence of any great player outside of Boston or New York.  I actually think I saw the great Nolan Ryan’s face flash past the screen in a montage, but I was not sure.

The problem is two fold.  Great players from teams outside of the Northeast have to be that much greater to even be considered for the Hall of Fame.  While it seems like Players for that Yankees and Red Sox simply have to be good for a long period, and be likable to make it into the Hall of Fame (see Wade Boggs). 

Today, we are told that Jim Rice will be in the Hall of Fame.  I don’t have any problem with a person saying that Jim Rice was a very good baseball player, but he does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.  Put him in your team’s Ring of Honor if you wan to, but not in the Hall of Fame.

He did not reach any of the ‘benchmarks’.  He did not have 3000 hit.   He did not even have 2500 hits (2452).  He did not have 500 home runs (382).  There is no justification for his inclusion, and it cheapens the Hall of Fame.

I looked at a few other players in comparison.  Reuben Sierra and Al Oliver are two Texas Rangers who have never sniffed the Hall of Fame, and rightly so.  Oliver had a 303 batting average, 2743 hits, 219 home runs, and 1326 RBIs in 18 seasons.  Sierra had a 268 average, 1322 RBIs, 2152 hits and 306 home runs in 20 seasons (he played less than 50 games in 11 of these).  These players are not as good as Jim Rice, but they compare with him, and the point is that they obviously do not belong in the Hall of Fame.

Ricky Henderson obviously does belong in the Hall of Fame.  He hit a benchmark with his 3055 hits while compiling the most stolen bases in history.  That’s it.  He’s in the Hall because he did what it took to get there.  Unfortunately, players like the great Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski will now have to have their names spoken in the same breath with Jim Rice.  Am I the only one that sees the wrongness of this?

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The Prank to End All Pranks…, Literally

I love a good prank, and have been a party to some good ones in my life.  Physical pranks can be funny, but the mental prank that leads a person to believe something that is not true for a certain amount of time is better.  There are several elements that go into making a prank great:

1. Intricacy– For the most part, the more complicated the prank is, the better it is.

2. Difficulty– You definitely receive points for difficulty.

3. Effectiveness– If no one believes the prank, it is not very good.  So, the greatness of the prank is often measured in terms of how much the ‘prank-ee’ believes the premise of the prank.

4. Dismount– Style points are awarded for how artfully the ‘prank-ee’ is allowed off the hook.

5. Effect– This aspect is a little more tricky.  If you fool someone into wearing a tuxedo to an informal dinner, the effect is funny, and it is a great prank.  However, if the greatness of your prank ends up with someone losing their job or heaven forbid, someone ends up dead, then your prank may not be that great.

This all being said, I was perplexed when I read about what arguably may have been the greatest prank in history.  Last week, during the horrible attacks on the Indian province of Mumbai, a person called the president of Pakistan in Islamabad, and purported himself to be the foreign minister from India.  He then proceeded to verbally berate the president of Pakistan which resulted in him putting his air force on alert against a possible attack by India.

This prank was so effective that no one knew it had actually occurred until Secretary Rice confronted the Indian Foreign Minister and asked in why he had done such a thing.  Genius.

As far as rating the prank goes, he scores great in the intricacy and difficulty areas of the prank.  Also, the effectiveness of the prank is off-the-charts (anytime you have the president of a country scrambling his air force, I’d say that’s pretty effective).  He loses points in the area of dismount, because he never really let them off the hook, and if he had admitted what he did, they probably would shoot him (assuming they will not find him and shoot him anyway).

Finally, he loses major points in the area of ‘effect.’  First, the extreme tastelessness which goes along with combining a prank with a terrorist attack is simply bad (to the point of evil).  Second, it is probably a little irresponsible to play around in such a manner with two governments that legendarily hate each other, but at the same time have nuclear weapons.  I think it’s safe to say that if it starts a war (especially a nuclear war) it is no longer a prank.

In the end, I have to say that this is not a good prank, and no one should attempt to repeat anything like it in the future.

Andy Rooney is Proud of America, and I am Sick of Him.

Like most good Americans, I am sick of Andy Rooney, and find myself continually wondering whose blood he sucked-out last night in order to buy one more minute of life on this Earth.  Of course, the obvious answer is that he lives off the ‘life force’ which he sucks from his viewers on a weekly basis. 

Normally, I would just avoid him all together, but my wife and I watch the Amazing Race every week (usually on tape due to my own professional football watching commitments).  Because 60 Minutes is preceded by a nationally televised football game, it almost always starts late, and as a result, I have scheduled series recordings for Amazing Race and Cold Case, so that I always get the entire Amazing Race program for the week.  Each week, I fast forward through the rest of 60 Minutes, looking for the beginning of the Amazing Race. 

Usually, the only effect Andy Rooney has on me is to have to look at his face as I fast forward to the end of the program.  This week, however, as I saw him going by, I noticed the caption of Obama behind him, and was intrigued.  I stopped the DVR and looked at my wife, and said, “Surely, he is not praising America for electing Obama.”  I rewound to the beginning of the segment and I sat mouth agape and watching him spew some of the worst drivel that I’ve ever seen on television.  Usually, his rants are so inane that they are easily dismissed and forgotten, but in this one he actually told the viewers how proud he was to live in an America where the people, 80% of whom are white, could vote-in a black man to be their president.

This is mind-boggling.  The implications of his statements in this segment are far reaching.  Does that mean that if America, where 80% of the people are white, had not chosen to make Obama president that it would have been an indication of our inherent continued racism?  I honestly believe this old man would have scolded America if Obama had not been elected.

Any presidential race should be less about color and personality than it is about ideology.  Rooney does not have enough faith in the American people to think that they could vote for a candidate based on political ideas.  Honestly, I do not have that much faith in the American people (at least the 16% who decide elections) either, but not because I think American is full of closet racists.  Unfortunately, I believe those 16% who are not motivated to vote based on political ideology probably did vote for Obama, not because he was black or a liberal, but because he was telegenic and speaks well as opposed to McCain.  [The hard-core liberal will have to forgive me here.  I know that they voted for Obama out of ideology, and I respect the fact that they are at least voting for a candidate that supports their political point of view.  There are simply not enough hard-core liberals or hard-core conservatives in America to win the Presidency.]

My point here is that I simply resent the implication in Rooney’s statement that those who voted against Obama did so because he was a black man.  I wonder if Rooney would have felt the same way if it had been Condoleezza Rice who had been the black candidate running for the Republican ticket.  I doubt it, but I would have voted for her in a second.  And, just think, American could have doubly assuaged its guilt by electing her president.