The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 35.0°F | Overcast

A Mudville View of Clinton and Baseball

Column by David Berl and Jeremy Cohen
Sports Columnists

This week's 21 gun salute goes out to fellow Cambridge denizen, Ernest Lawrence Thayer who inspired the following:

Clinton at the Bat

The Mudville sky was dreary on that fateful August 12th,

For baseball broke it's promise of "in sickness and in health."

The dugouts strewn with gloves and bats, the crowd in deep despair;

As the players and the owners let fly a fiendish glare.

"No more!" cried Richard Ravitch with a steadfast thunderclap,

"We simply cannot play ball without a salary cap.

You players are too greedy, the dilemma's reached its crux.

Is Andujar Cedeno really worth four million bucks?"

But the players kept their Union, in unison they balked.

Behind Donald Fehr their leader, together off they walked.

"You need us more than we need you," they griped so businesslike,

"Free agency for ev'ryone, or else we go on strike!"

The ballyards were abandoned, the bases gathering dust,

Not a bounder, or a rhubarb amongst the throng discussed.

The crackerjacks lay on the ground, the journalists would mope,

"Somewhere there must be happiness, somewhere there must be hope."

Time would pass unyielding in the wake of children's queries,

No earthquake, but selfish men could spurn the World Series.

When bickering had run amuck over the lofty shill,

The thousands clamored desperately, "Off to Capitol Hill!"

There was ease in Clinton's air as the podium he shook,

And no doubting soul in the mass, could question Clinton's look.

Ripken's streak was safe, t'was sure, astern Clinton's mighty jab.

Thank heaven Bob Feller would not return a lowly scab.

A nation stood expectantly with restless, sweaty palms.

A nation bantered anxiously to avail itself these alms.

So when Clinton said, "Dear Gentlemen, to my office hasten."

A nation bellowed gleefully, at last these men he'll chasten.

The players strut out haughtily, as if to steal a base.

The owners murmur cautiously, no smile across their face.

And now Clinton dons his cap and strides unto the plate;

And now the Earth lies silent as baseball awaits its fate.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout.

But there is no joy in Mudville, mighty Clinton has struck out.

NFL Update

Wednesday's NFL expansion draft saw more junk change hands than a Nebraskan flea market. Here with a draft recap is Mudville correspondent and 33rd pick of the Carolina Panthers, Bill Goldberg.

"Ummm. I usually don't make public appearances like this, but I was a steal."

Thank you Bill. While the draft appeared to be no more exciting than watching two grown men rummage through Paul Tagliabue's sock drawer, it did have its minor surprises.

Terrell Buckley and Johnny Johnson, both proven NFL commodities with reasonable salaries, were passed over by the talent starved neophytes. In addition, solid wide receivers Mark Carrier and Kelvin Martin were both taken after such household names as Dewell Brewer, Tom Myslinski, and Paul "Catch" Frase.

Even Paul Householder himself (still wearing his Reds uniform, we hope) wouldn't recognize new Carolina Panther Vince "Bone" Marrow, who incidentally was selected nine picks ahead of ex-Washington Redskin Desmond Howard, not a distinction likely to be emblazoned on the mantlepiece beside the Heisman Trophy.

Overall, the Jaguars had a better draft, landing a relatively skilled offense in quarterback Steve Beurlein, young running backs Reggie Cobb and Mazio Royster, and wide receivers Howard and Martin. However, they did spend 6 million dollars more than the Panthers for four fewer players.

When all is said and done, the Original Panthers, with more freedom under the salary cap with which to bid for free agents, should have the better of the two teams. Besides, offensive lineman Harry Boatswain just knows how to win.

Inside Pitch

As the NBA's finest walked on the court for the All-Star game on Sunday, the world's best athletes were on display. Though it seems that these superhuman giants, whom society has erected as indomitable heroes, have everything men could ever desire, some continue to mope around their respective NBA courts, complaining about money, playing time, or the lack of toys in the play pen. To be sure, the media has capitalized on the prima donnas' pre-pubescent behavior, and the initial chiding was deserved.

However, the continued bashing of basketball's "me generation" has become an absurd witch-hunt in which overzealous journalists scrutinize players' actions and fail to distinguish between off-court conflict and poor on-court performance.

One unfortunate example of this media condemnation has been the Bulls' Scottie Pippen. Although Pippen's behavior problems, which include his notorious decision to stay on the bench for the final two seconds of a playoff game, his constant belly-aching about General Manager Jerry "Sour" Krause, and his constant refusal to opt for plastic surgery in an effort to repair the league's ugliest face, are inexcusable, they should not detract from the perception of what Scottie Pippen really is: the Tree Rollins of our time - one of the greatest basketball players of our generation.

Coming out of the basketball factory known as Central Arkansas, the brash Pippen made an immediate impact, even if under the gigantic shadow of Sir Jordan. Despite his important contribution to all three Bulls' championship campaigns, critics maintained that Scottie road Michael's back, and without his royal Airness', Pippen and the Bulls would fold like a poker player showing king high.

However, with Pippen leading the way, Chicago was within a game, or more precisely, one ticky-tack foul of the conference finals last season- a respectable showing by any standards. However, the nay-sayers were not convinced. "Horace Grant is the real leader of that team - Scottie sucks," these buffoons cried in unison.

Thus, as Grant departed for the Magic Kingdom every expert across the land predicted nothing but misery and failure for the Bulls. After all, Pippen's excuse for a supporting cast includes B.J. Armstrong, who has trouble walking into "R" rated movies without getting carded, the injury-plagued Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc, Steve "Strip Po" Kerr, Will Perdue, "Pistol" Pete Meyers, and the always dangerous Bill Wennington. Despite this talent vacuum, the Bulls have stayed around .500 all season, a testament to Pippen's incredible all around skills.

While he is not even the highest paid player on the team (journalists are not the only ones who fail to appreciate him), Pippen leads the Bulls in almost every offensive category and remains one of the league's top defensive players. As the awe-stricken Marvelous Marv Albert put it, "Scottie is a point guard, forward, and low-post man all rolled up into one."

Unlike other unhappy players (read Latrell Sprewell, Derrick Coleman), Pippen has not allowed his personal problems to effect his astounding level of performance. However, instead of accolades, Pippen receives criticism and vituperative commentary. One day, perhaps after he is unceremoniously traded by Da Bulls, the doubters will look past basketball's Rodney Dangerfield's obnoxious attitude and see the awesome talent that lurks behind.

Trivia

At age 17, Boris Becker defeated Anders Jarryd in a rain-delayed semi-final and then bested Kevin Curren in the finals of Wimbledon. Kudos to Alexander Moskovitz '97 for sending in the first of three correct answers.

This week's question comes from the world of college basketball: Who passed up a jumper and chose to pass to Keith Smart for the winning shot in the closing seconds of Indiana's 1987 championship victory? Send your answer by electronic mail to: bell@mit.edu.