Strong stomach needed to view baseball, politics

Posted Oct. 08, 2010, at 11:09 p.m.

Now that October has kicked in, mercifully bringing with it Major League Baseball’s post-season playoffs as an antidote to the all-politics format of much of the media in an election year, I have two questions.

First, whatever happened to September? It’s gone before we really got to know it. And, perhaps more to the point, is the spit quotient of Major League Baseball at an all-time high, or does it just seem that way when you watch it on high-definition wide-screen television?

For players on the field it’s swing bat and spit, pound fist into glove and spit, hitch up the pajama bottoms that serve as baseball pants these days, scratch and spit. In the dugout, it’s pace and spit, sit back and spit, lean over the dugout barrier and spit, no effort left unrecorded by the all-seeing television cameras. What a grand adventure it must be for the guy charged with hosing down the joint after your typical three-hour spitathon.

The main requirement for watching a baseball game on television today is a strong stomach, with perhaps a pair of L.L. Bean waders and a raincoat in reserve, just in case. All that aside, if it weren’t for the baseball playoffs that lead to the eventual crowning of a new World Series champion, many citizens might be driven nuts from a steady diet of politics in an electioneering season.

From now until the election, politics and baseball will coexist, strange bedfellows competing for the nation’s attention, their market share of newspaper readers and television viewers depending upon how compelling their story is on any given day.

Those who care not a whit about baseball or politics, however, can rest assured as the 2010 edition of National Newspaper Week winds down that their daily newspaper remains a great source for oddball news stories from other venues that can make their day.

A wire story earlier this week out of Belmont, Mass., is a case in point. It reported that a woman there had been charged with throwing a bag of dog dung into the face of a passing motorist in an attempt to get the car to slow down after he nearly hit a man riding a bicycle.

The bizarre incident turned odder when, according to the news story, one of the charges lodged by police against the woman who had been walking her dog when the incident occurred was “assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.”

There has to be a great line lurking here concerning what qualifies as a dangerous weapon under Massachusetts law, but I can’t seem to come up with one at the moment. Not one, at any rate, that can be tested in polite company.

In Paris, a former financial trader convicted in history’s biggest rogue trading scandal was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison and ordered to pay his former employer damages of $6.7 billion.

My el-cheapo pocket calculator — having been assembled in a Taiwanese sweatshop long before $6.7 billion became everyday chump change — doesn’t have the numerical capacity to deal with billion-dollar transactions, so I beseeched Paula at the local branch office of the Katahdin Trust Co. to do a calculation for the enlightenment of readers. She crunched the numbers and informed me that if the guy ponies up $89,333.33 per year he can pay off his fine in just 75,000 years.

From Brazil comes a story datelined Sao Paulo reporting that a judge in the city’s electoral court had ruled that a clown who got more votes than any other candidate for congress will have to convince authorities he can read and write before he can take office representing Sao Paulo in the governing body. The judge said there exists sufficient doubt whether the comic performer known as Tiririca meets a constitutional mandate that federal lawmakers be literate.

So there you are. If you have always suspected that it is easier for clowns to get elected to Congress here than it is in other countries, your suspicions may have been validated.

But enough, already. I’m out of here. Game Two of the American League Divisional Series playoff between the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees beckons, and I must see whether Derek Jeter’s dual overhead cam spit-fabrication mechanism is functioning in a manner fit for prime-time television.

BDN columnist Kent Ward lives in Limestone. Readers may reach him by e-mail at olddawg@bangordailynews.com.

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