<September 2018>
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The Sadness of Baseball
 

Watching players kneel to protest racism during the playing of the national anthem 90-year-old  Vin Scully said he would never watch another  NFL game. I had a similar reaction during the World Series watching the Dodgers line up clutching their hats to their hearts saluting the flag like some extreme right youth corp.  A life long baseball fan, in fact originally a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, I asked myself why I was wasting my time on this empty-headed and irrelevant sport.

            Perhaps I ask too much of a sport that banned black players for half a century by mutual consent.  The players didn’t object. They only objected to the integration, which by the way, is why I started rooting for the Dodgers. I also convinced myself that they were the greatest team the world had ever seen. 

            During this year’s World Series MLB responded to a racist gesture toward Japanese Dodgers pitcher Hu Darvish by agreeing to penalize the player-- next year. Standing up to racism did not merit interfering with the World Series.

            Though I have never followed basketball or football and have always loved baseball I am left with the impression that in other sports even multi-millionaires are concerned with what is going on in this country.

            Since I still remember Scully, who only recently retired, announcing the Brooklyn games of my youth, his failure to understand the protest of football players was disappointing but not surprising because he comes from baseball. During a Red Sox game last season someone flashed a sign “racism is as American as baseball.” The offenders were quickly removed and the announcer commented on how inappropriate it was, as though it were pornography.

            Baseball has ever fewer black players and black people often attribute this to racism but it may simply be that football and basketball are more attractive careers for African Americans or that the NGA and NFL are more appealing than the MLB..

How can you tell ballplayer to salute the flag but they must not express political opinions.  In some ball parks the seventh inning imposes a second round of patriotism where it use to be, and in Wrigley Field still is, a time to sing Take me Out to the Ball Park” and have fun. If you watched the World Series this year you endured fourteen displays of patriotism. Why? In other countries flags and anthems are only for games against other countries. Is this just a big protest against the Toronto Blue Jays? I don't think so. And why are players from other countries forced to salute the American flag?  We need to get this ultra nationalism out of sports, including the Olympics, which barred such flag waving until Hitler hosted the games. Think about that for a minute.

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