Friday, April 15, 2016

Heroic Deeds

Thank Castiel It's Friday!

"Don't worry about Trump. I'm on it."


On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black player to take the field in a major league baseball game.

To celebrate the historic moment and Robinson's importance to the growth of the game, today ALL major league baseball players will wear Robinson's No. 42.

By the time I was old enough to start paying attention to baseball in the early 1960s,
of course, there was nothing unusual about seeing black players (and Hispanics, for that matter). Kids like me idolized Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Luis Aparicio, Bob Gibson, Hank Aaron, Juan Marichal, Frank Robinson, Luis Tiant, and scores of other non-white players on our favorite teams.

I credit my upbringing (which included Catholic school through 8th grade) for my lack of racial prejudice, but baseball played an important role also. Nothing was more American to me than baseball, and if baseball was a color-blind, egalitarian sport then why shouldn't the rest of the country be just the same?

It wasn't until I was much older than I came to understand how complicated it all was, and what Robinson's exemplary career really meant both to baseball and to society as a whole. It is difficult to overstate the cultural significance of his achievement.

"Baseball really is part of your DNA, isn't it?"

It absolutely is...


Kennedy carried a no-hitter into the 6th inning

Behind a second straight strong outing from RHP Ian Kennedy, my beloved Kansas City Royals took the final game of their four-game series with the Houston Astros last night at Minute Maid Park, winning 6-2 in a game that was much closer and more tension-filled than the final score indicates (the Royals were clinging to a 1-0 lead heading into the 6th inning).

The decisive hit came with two out in
the 6th, when 1B Eric Hosmer doubled home two runs. Doubles from DH Kendrys Morales and LF Alex Gordon plus a single from C Salvador Perez made it 6-0.

The Royals are on their second three-game winning streak of the young season
heading into a weekend series with the Oakland Athletics at the ridiculously-named Coliseum.

"Some late nights this weekend, eh?"

Just tonight...the games on Saturday and Sunday are afternoon contests...

Another Sort of Hero

Today is a special day for word-lovers like me, as it is the anniversary of one of the great achievements in the history of the English language.

On April 15, 1755 Dr. Samuel Johnson's famous A Dictionary of the English Language was published. It quickly became the preeminent dictionary in the language, a position it held until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary nearly two centuries later.

A Rose By Any Other Name

From the indispensable comic strip Dilbert, by Scott Adams, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

As you might expect of someone who loves baseball the way I do, I'm also a fan of movies about baseball. Some of the earliest memories I have of watching movies are baseball films like The Pride of St. Louis and The Stratton Story.

Although fictional stories like The Natural and Field of Dreams are among my favorite movies period, I am even fonder of movies that focus on real baseball history like Eight Men Out, 61*, and A League of Their Own.

It has been my experience that films focusing on a specific player are, on the whole, less satisfying. Aside from an occasional eye-opener like Fear Strikes Out (which isn't really about baseball anyway), I find most biopics about ballplayers to be flat and lackluster. I'd rather read a book about a great player than watch someone try to play him in a movie.
Original 2013 "one sheet" poster

That said, the Jackie Robinson biopic 42
is better than most such efforts. Chadwick Boseman does a creditable job as Robinson, and Harrison Ford brings gravitas to the role of Dodgers President and GM Branch Rickey.

As is usually the case with such films, liberties are taken with the historical record for "dramatic effect," with the result that the film seems heavy-handed now and then. Quite a few critics claimed it was too preachy.

It isn't a film I will want to watch every chance I get, but it is generally well-done and mostly does justice to a historically significant moment in baseball history.

One of the film's delights is the period music, including artists like Count Basie and
Nat King Cole.

Today's send-off is Wynona Carr's soundtrack rendition of "The Ball Game" that coincided with the film's closing moments. Enjoy...

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