(Posted: 7/28/11; update 7/29)
A friend who is an unusual Mets fan says he loves to go to CitiField just to “enjoy the game.” That the Mets are not playoff caliber this year doesn’t bother him: he likes the scene – seeing Jose Reyes, for sale the color, the fans, the intermittent action. For those of us who want our team to be competitive, playing games that count down to the wire, our friend is an aberration: where he embraces baseball for its entertainment value and spectacle, we treat it like life and death.
The political game, so important to many of us, suffers from a similar clash of fan attitudes. We consider the contest of issues a matter of intense concern, worthy of careful scrutiny. We hang on every play, knowing how much the outcome will count. The political equivalent of the unusual ball fan likes the excitement surrounding the issues game – the cheering and the booing – more than its intricacies. The media-led negative reaction to the appearance of Muslims on the field – echoed in Europe – is a case in point, says TruthDig’s Chris Hedges:
“The battle under way in America is not between religion and science. It is not between…Western civilization and Islam. The blustering televangelists and…our vaunted Middle East spets and experts, are all part of our vast, simplistic culture of mindless entertainment. They are in show business. They cannot afford complexity.”
The name-calling and bean-balling in the West’s contentious game with Islam centers on a defensive play Muslims call jihad. Opponents see it as aggressive. But in the words of a book by Fordham theologian Richard Viladesau, “jihad…mean(s)…defense of the Islamic world, from invasion and intrusion by non-Islamic forces.” “The very nature of Islam,” the book explains, “(is) related to salam or peace.” Given Team USA’s clearly intrusive role in the Middle East, the scandal here is the unwillingness to appreciate the complexity of the Muslim game.
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Meeting a Need: An other-coast perspective on the Carlos Beltran deal from SF Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler: “Beltran is not a superstar, and the Giants gave up pitching-star-to-be Zack Wheeler, but come on. This is a team five steps beyond desperate for a live bat. The Giants have been amazing and amusing this season, building up a nice lead in their division despite a (decimated) batting order…It’s a heartwarming story, the Giants staying afloat despite their offense, but it’s a fairy tale, it couldn’t last. The Giants going into the playoffs without a new hitter would have been (disastrous).”
Need to be Met? The Yankees, like the pre-Beltran Giants, could likely make the playoffs by standing pat. But they clearly need another solid starter if they hope to go all the way. Although an admirable overachiever, Ivan Nova, with his minimal experience, doesn’t quite fill the bill. Brian Cashman may see it otherwise. We’ll know in a day or two.
Somber Bay Watch: Keith Hernandez, in SNY booth, on Mets’ lack of HR power after Beltran’s departure: “Who do they have? (Jason) Bay used to hit the long ball. I don’t see him doing it anymore.”
There They Go Again: No sooner did the blessed NFL lockout end, than pre-pre-season pro football pushed pennant-race baseball to the back of many sports sections. Lead coverage of the end of the lockout in Tuesday’s Daily News filled four-and-a-half of eight (non-box-score) sports pages. On Wednesday, pre-season grid froth accounted for six of 10 pages. Imagine how difficult it will be to find accounts of the crucial MLB September games played daily when the one-game-per-team per week NFL schedule has started.
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