Magazine article American Libraries

Will's World: Baseball, Boomer, and Censorship. (Commentary)

Magazine article American Libraries

Will's World: Baseball, Boomer, and Censorship. (Commentary)

Article excerpt

It happens every spring. The guys at the office are always one man short for the rotisserie baseball league so they come knocking on my door. They seek me out reluctantly because come October I always win the league championship and the prize money that goes with it.

Rotisserie baseball is a game of statistics. You select the 25 Major League Baseball players from the spring draft that you think will have the most productive seasons. Performance statistics are tracked for each player throughout the season, and the guy who picks the most productive players wins. I always win without ever having to access the many baseball books and other resources in our library. I leave that up to the other guys. I let them check out the Baseball Encyclopedia; I check out the police records. That's right. All I want to know is which players have a history of drunkenness, assault, drug abuse, and disorderly conduct. Those are the players I want on my team. I also go big for the tobacco chewers.

The big myth about baseball is that it is a wholesome, All-American, pastoral game that is characterized by sportsmanship and fair play. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Baseball is a game for roughnecks, hooligans, and sociopaths. There is nothing in sports to compare with the terror of facing a pitcher who can throw a 95 mph fastball and who aims his curve ball at your head.

It takes a fierce and fearless man to play Major League Baseball. As the immortal Leo Durocher said: "Nice guys finish last." And wasn't it the illustrious Casey Stengel who said: "Whiskey drinkers hit home runs; milk shake drinkers hit singles"? What's the timeworn advice that every manager gives to a slugger in a slump? "Go out and get drunk tonight." Before you dismiss my theory as mere exaggeration, consider some of the greatest names in the history of the sport: Ty Cobb was a hard-drinking, hard-fighting racist who is reputed to have killed a man. Babe Ruth was a womanizing alcoholic who once charged into the stands to assault one of his critics. Ditto for Mickey Mantle, whose liver gave out when he was 53. The all-time hit king, Pete Rose, was a compulsive gambler who was jailed for tax evasion. …

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