Tag Archives: first pitch

First Pitches and Last Pitches: The Importance of President Trump’s Failure to Show on Opening Day

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Saul Steinberg wrote: “Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem.” This is something about the American character that President Donald Trump does not seem to understand, these are not qualities that he shares. In a rare move for a new President, Trump refused an invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington National’s Opening Day celebration.

To some people that may seem like a trivial thing, but to me it is yet another indicator of the President’s lack of respect for his office, the institutions of our country, and our greatest traditions. Baseball has always provided a healing balm for our country during various crises and emergencies. During World War Two Franklin Roosevelt said to critics who thought baseball should be shut down for the duration of the war, “I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going.” 

Baseball is important and a good number of our Presidents understood this whether you agreed with their politics or not. President George W. Bush made a couple of observations that President Trump obviously has no understanding about. First there were the personal virtues of the baseball legends, virtues that should inform and inspire anyone, especially a President of the United States. Bush noted:

“Baseball isn’t just the stats. As much as anything else, baseball is the style of Willie Mays, or the determination of Hank Aaron, or the endurance of a Mickey Mantle, the discipline of Carl Yastrzemski, the drive of Eddie Mathews, the reliability of a (Al) Kaline or a (Joe) Morgan, the grace of a (Joe) DiMaggio, the kindness of a Harmon Killebrew, and the class of Stan Musial, the courage of a Jackie Robinson, or the heroism of Lou Gehrig. My hope for the game is that these qualities will never be lost.”

But then there are the practical leadership, management, and political aspects of managing a baseball team that relate directly to anyone in a leadership position. Bush noted: “The most important qualities for a (baseball) manager are to plan for the season and foster a team spirit that encourages hard work and the desire to win. A good president must set clear goals, recruit the best, build a spirit of teamwork, and be willing to share credit and take the blame.”

After the 9-11 attacks President Bush went to Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch during Game Three of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks just a few miles from Ground Zero. Despite the fears and warnings of the Secret Service, Bush refused to put on a bulletproof vest, and when he got to the mound he recalled:

“The gravity of the moment never really hit me until the first step coming out of that dugout,” Bush said. “I remembering the noise and it was deafening. I remember looking around the stadium, this giant crowd. Standing on the mound at Yankee Stadium was by far the most nervous moment of my presidency.

Bush understood that this was much more than a game, it was a national symbol, it was something that had to be done where it was done. Billy Crystal recalled “This is a moment. Your politics go away. Here’s the president of the United States, handed this awful baton to run with and he stood up and basically said f— you.” For those watching all over the country and the world it was an electric moment. One can criticize President Bush for many things but not this, that pitch helped the country begin to heal more than any military strike, more than any speech, because it reached back to the virtues of the game that are so enmeshed with the character and the ideals of America.

But since President Trump can’t even show up for the first pitch on opening day, I doubt if he has the capacity to ever inspire anyone in this country to higher ideals and higher. He seems to me more like more like a unscrupulous baseball owner more interested in parting out the team and destroying the franchise to make a short term profit all the while building a garish new stadium to satisfy his need with other people’s money, kind of like the late Margaret Whitton who played the owner of the Cleveland Indians in Major League.

Sadly, the President is not only is his missing and dissing the greatest of American institutions, he his missing out the one game that can actually teach him about politics, as Richard Nixon well understood. You see, Trump’s basic inattention and laziness, his inability to stay focused will destroy his presidency. Nixon said that Trump should heed: “I never leave a game before the last pitch, because in baseball, as in life and especially politics, you never know what will happen.”

So until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, History, leadership, News and current events, Political Commentary

Whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention…

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“My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention…” Headley Lamar (Harvey Korman) Blazing Saddle’s

Blurred Days, Preparing for Death and Medium Rare Diseases : The past 10 days have been a blur.  So much has happened that I have a hard time coming to grips with it all.  First was going out to California to assist my mom and brother in dealing with things concerning my dad’s worsening condition.  It was good to have a couple of visits with him where he was with me at least for a few minutes.  I will treasure those figuring that they may well be the last that I have with him on this green earth.  Yet it was hard.  I had to kind of package away my stuff for a while and hoping to process when I got back.  It seems that the Deity Herself has decided that she needed to build more character in this character than this character thought that he needed.  When I got back we were faced with the first real health crisis in our lives.  Judy contracted Epiglotitis somehow and we spent the majority of the past three days in hospital ER’s or having her admitted to hospital.  Nothing is ever normal for us. Maybe it’s because neither of us are normal.  In fact Judy is Abbess of the Abby Normal (see the link on my blog roll).  So Epiglotitis is very unusual, 10-40 cases in a million.  Most are kids and it is almost unheard of in this country.  The Third Year ENT Resident said that he had never seen it before.  The attending almost missed it until the ER Attending saw the soft tissue X-Ray.   As I said in my last post after I had made the diagnosis which was confirmed by the physicians: “It’s a kid’s disease except when it happens to adults.” It is what probably killed George Washington.  Thankfully even early Monday morning though the ER Attending did not see it he did the right thing in a heavy dose of IV antibiotics and steroids.  This probably arrested the development of the condition.  When it worsened we got Judy into the ER pretty fast and again the right thing was done.  She seems to be doing well now that she has been discharged home and for this I am most grateful that she is not dead  or even the Grateful Dead. However two long nights in ER with little rest following the trip to California have left me worn out.  I do hope that the Deity Herself does not think it necessary to build any more character in this miscreant Priest.  Thankfully my Department Head took my duty today and put me on two days of leave to put myself back together. Sleep has been fitful and my anxiety levels have been rather high.  Thankfully no PTSD meltdowns this time at least not yet.

The Holy Unction of the Baseball: If you remember my post Baseball in Between Life and Death in the ICU I mentioned a dear woman and her husband who were both big baseball fans.  She was in the ICU and seeming to be getting better and I promised her a baseball.  She crashed hard.  The next day when I brought the ball in she was heavily sedated and intubated. She was trying to die on us.  If you recall I placed the baseball in her hand and she gripped it tight. Her husband and sister said that she did not let it go for about 7 or 8 hours.   I prayed for her as I did this.  I went to California and she was still pretty bad off.  By the time that I came back I heard that she was doing a lot better.  I saw her yesterday and had a wonderful visit with her and her husband.  There is a possibility that they may be actually able to do something to help her heart function.  She remembers having the ball in her hand and wondering how it got there even when she was heavily sedated.  Could it be possible that the Deity Herself could have made The Holy Unction of the Baseball a new sub-Sacrament of the Sacrament of Healing?

Don’t Screw Up the Prayer: I did the invocation and benediction at the groundbreaking ceremony for Preventive Medicine unit at Norfolk.  I’ve done hundreds of prayers at military and civil functions.  They are not hard to do.  What you don’t want to be is too memorable because if this is the case you have probably done something to be remembered and not in a good way.  I have seen this done a number of times.  Often the Chaplain has no clue that he stepped all over it.  This can happen by going too long, forgetting the words or trying to be too uppity, sectarian, funny or unique.  Since most of the time the people at these functions have to be there the chaplain cannot presume that they are the show and can do whatever they want.  In the Navy this is really important.  I write these prayers out and have done so for many years now.  Not only do I write them out I read them several times before I ever get in front of a live audience.  Doing this keeps me from doing something stupid, which on occasion even I can do.   I even have a basic format that I put the prayer into: The introduction; specific event/unit/situation that I am asking God to bless, and the closing sentence.  I try to keep it to 30-45 seconds, never more than a minute.  It is not good when they look at their watches when you are praying or yawn. In the public forum you have a place to be a witness, but it is always a delicate balance. The people at the event are not there to see the chaplain.  The chaplain is like the ceremonial first pitch or meeting between the managers of the two baseball teams and the umpires to discuss the ground rules.  Chaplains are not the main event unless it is an actual worship service.  Even memorial services and ceremonies where the chaplain plays a huge role, the chaplain is not the reason everyone is there.  It is no place to try to be Paul Harvey and tell “the rest of the story.” Thus this ministry in the public arena can be one that either provides the chaplain entrance into the community with opportunities to provide great ministry, even evangelical ministry.  Or ensures that they remain an outsider to the community, nipping at the fringe and hoping someone will hear them.   When we were done I had an officer compliment me on my prayer.  He said it wasn’t too long, wasn’t too short and honored what they were doing.  I love it when a plan comes together.

A Tale of Two Burgers: Yesterday I did something that I have not done in years.  I had two hamburgers in a single day. Both were fast food burgers and usually I maybe eat A HAMBURGER every 45-60 days.  Yesterday as you know from reading this was rather hectic.  One the way home I stopped by Sonic to get a Super Sonic Double Cheeseburger with Mayo, Mustard and Ketchup. For fast food this is a hell of a burger.  It is tasty and big.  Sure it’s not the best hamburger in the world but it will work in a pinch.  Early this morning after leaving Judy at the hospital I stopped by a 24 hour McDonald’s.  I was hungry and tired.  Unfortunately they have an exceptionally limited after midnight menu. Two Types of Quarter Pounder, The Big and Tasty Burger, a Southern Chicken Sandwich, Chicken McNuggets and Chicken Strips.  Not much to choose from.  I should have gone with the McNuggets or regular Quarter Pounder but taken in by the name I asked for the Big and Tasty.  This was very possibly the very worst hamburger that I have ever had.  The meat was bland and greasy and topped by a mound of mayonaise that drowned out any other taste.  I could feel my arteries closing as the first bite went down.  I can only say “Never Again.”

Moving to the Front of the International League: My Norfolk Tides are now 26-12 not only atop their division but now has the best record in the International League.  This is a exciting young ball club.  We have not had anything like this in years at Norfolk.  I just hope that the Orioles don’t rape the Tides to fill their roster.  I know that the minors exist to support the big team but right now this is a special team and fun season.  I pray that the Deity will ensure the Orioles success so that we can continue like this the rest of the season.

Getting the call reversed: It looks like our insurance company has decided to agree with us and the body shop and denial the fraudulent claim against Judy.  Sometimes arguing with the umpire nicely gets the call reversed.

As always thank you for your kind words, encouragement, concern and prayers over the past 10 days.  They are appreciated and I know that they are effectual.

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under alzheimer's disease, Baseball, ER's and Trauma, healthcare, Loose thoughts and musings, Military, PTSD