I want to get back to what I remember as a kid, the way of life here in Louisiana. We tend to think we live a little differently down here. It’s a lot of culture, a lot of French culture. Everywhere I’ve been in the country, for some reason, this is the place I can’t get away from.
— Gil Meche, pitcher for the Kansas City Royals
Meche pitches against the Oakland A’s in 2008.
(photo: John H. Kim/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)
The 32-year-old baseball player from the Lafayette is getting a lot of attention for his recent decision to retire and forgo the last year of his contract. Salary given up? $12 million.
“’When I signed my contract, my main goal was to earn it,’” Meche said this week by phone from Lafayette, La. “’Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad. I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again.’”
Honorable indeed. But it’s his longing for home and sense of identity wrapped up in place that’s most striking, and more interesting to think about. I know my North Dakota roots have shaped me in myriad, subtle ways: the open landscape, the Missouri River, the big sky and broad, never-ending horizon, the pragmatic people. These all add up and are a large part of what defines me. And you?
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Bob Sheppard’s Stadium Cathedral
Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer
Bob Sheppard was the vocal embodiment of Yankee baseball. For many players and fans, he elevated the game into a kind of religious experience. The iconic announcer, who served as the public voice of the Yankees for over 50 years, died this week at the age of 99.
"The Voice of God," as he was fondly called, announced each player’s name "clearly, concisely, and correctly." Former Yankees player Paul O’Neill once likened Sheppard’s voice to "the organ at church." Sheppard himself described Yankee Stadium as "a cathedral for baseball people."
For Sheppard, this kind of metaphor wasn’t just rhetoric. He led a deeply spiritual life as a cradle Catholic who was active as a lector in his Long Island church. Even as he became frail with illness and age, he continued to take daily communion at home. His decision to pursue speech as a vocation was encouraged by Vincentian priests while attending a Catholic high school in Brooklyn. He reflected on his faith in an interview with Busted Halo:
"I have a very special love for the Blessed Mother and always have had, it started when I was young I think and I can remember many times at St. John’s Prep Chapel going in to the church there before a baseball game and asking the Blessed Mother to allow me to get a couple of hits that afternoon (laughs). And she did! (laughs) She was good, very good to me."
Sheppard loved reading and wrote poetry. In 2008, he drafted this poem in commemoration of the last baseball game ever to be played at the old Yankee Stadium:
Farewell, old Yankee Stadium, farewell
What a wonderful story you can tell
DiMaggio, Mantle, Gehrig and Ruth
A baseball cathedral in truth.
(Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)
One of your colleagues had me in the papers with horns and a tail, red horns and a tail. That’s a sign of the devil. I’m a Christian man. I don’t like those things. I take those things very serious. Those are the kind of things that the fans actually get used to seeing, and actually sometimes influence those people to believe that you are a bad person, that you are like an ogre.
—Pedro Martinez, speaking to reporters at Yankee Stadium the day before his debut as the starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the World Series.
Trent Gilliss, online editor
The Ploys of Summer
Mitch Hanley, senior producer
This week reports came out about baseball’s ongoing steroid scandal, citing lawyer’s statements that both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz tested positive for steroid abuse in 2003. In 2004, these two led the Boston Red Sox to a World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, crowning Ramirez the World Series Most Valuable Player and Ortiz the American League Championship Series MVP.
This is the second time this year that Ramirez has been tied to steroid use — the previous occasion back in May resulted in a 50-game suspension. Earlier this year, famed sluggers Alex Rodriguez (572 career home runs) and Barry Bonds (all-time home run leader at 762, Hank Aaron 2nd at 755) were outed by the same 2003 report as having used steroids.
Although I do applaud the league’s enforcement of their rules and the suspension of Ramirez for the current year’s infraction, where is the outrage on behalf of the fans? The affects of these damning reports seem to suggest that the fans don’t have a problem with players using steroids. Fans may not like it, but, by and large, they do not go so far as to boycott games. In fact, a report issued in May had indicated just a 4.4 percent drop in attendance from last year for games played in April. But the decline is attributed to the economic downturn.
And after a nearly year-long financial crisis that outed the financial industry’s cheaters and the regular outing of politicians who either cheated on their wives or cheated on their taxes, is there no outrage left in us? Have we established ours as a culture where it is OK to cheat as long as you don’t get caught, and, if you do get caught, just wait for it to blow over? What about those who are out on the diamond playing their hearts out, who are not using steroids. Don’t they deserve our outrage? And when it comes to something as trivial as baseball or as important as an election, what is the best way to communicate our outrage?
So what does this mean for our society? Is this the American way? Do we expect our leaders to cheat in order to be leaders? What do you think?
(photo: Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez at the 2008 MLB All-Star Game. Getty Images/Jim McIsaac)
Whenever I was on the plane heading to Washington, my wife was kind of looking through… actually some verses in her Bible — and she handed her Bible to me. It was Romans 13, verses one through five, and verses four and five were the verses that she told me to read. And, I mean I’m not gonna sit here and quote Scripture or whatever, but if you’re interested in that, those are the verses I read. And I needed to tell the truth.
The verses read:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience.
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor