Category Archives: Baseball Opening Day

1000 Words: Crime & Joy

Funny how the least of Donald J. Trump’s sins, apparently, will be the one that gets him indicted first.

Me? I couldn’t care less that he paid off a pornstar to keep her mouth shut about an affair they had years ago. Just as I couldn’t have cared less that then-President Bill Clinton got a blowjob in the Oval Office and lied about it under oath.

Yes, Clinton’s lie and Trump’s bribe both broke the law but you and I know some laws are important and others not so. For instance, if a person is carrying a small amount of marijuana for personal use at the geographic coordinates 41.707842°N 87.524471°W, and takes a single step to her right, she has automatically broken the law. That’s because, in this example, she stepped from Illinois into Indiana.

Trump’s coming indictment, based on what we know so far, stems from him cooking his books. He allegedly ordered his personal lawyer to bribe the pornstar and then his umbrella company reimbursed that lawyer. That’s a crime, sure. Companies aren’t supposed to declare bribes as business expenses, which is what the Trump Organization did.

Folks, that’s absolutely nothing compared to what Trump’s company did regarding getting nine-figure loans from banks by artificially inflating the value of holdings he declared as collateral, and then turning around to artificially dis-inflate those same holdings when it came time to pay taxes on them.

And that‘s absolutely nothing compared to how Trump, the man, has personally warped America’s and the world’s view of truth and reality, how he’s debased public discourse as president by verbally abusing both people and countries, and how he has fomented violence both prior to January 6th and in recent days leading up to his indictment.

Funny thing is, a guest on NPR’s morning edition made the iffy statement that America is saddened by the revelation that Trump indeed will be indicted. I suppose this fellow, whom I recall was described as a Republican strategist, spoke a grain of truth. Sure, it’s sad that a former president will be fingerprinted, booked, and arraigned. But at least half the nation is giddy over this news.

I can’t say I am, even though I feel the political ascension of Trump is one of the low points in American history. No, I’m not giddy that he’ll be doing the perp walk. I only want him to go away — as in never be president again and stop inciting his mob to violence. And, before I forget, quit spewing falsehoods and verbally abusing other people and nations.

The president should be above such things.

Yet at least 30 percent of the American electorate remains in thrall to this man. That’s what’s really sad.

Yesterday was Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, a high, holy day for me. Spring is here no matter what the weather report says. The skies were fairly clear over Wrigley Field in Chicago but the temps hovered in the low 40s. No matter the weather, Wrigley Field would be my personal vision of heaven, if I believed in heaven.

I’ve been rained on, sun-baked, snowed on, and pushed around by gale-force winds at Wrigley Field but never have I considered any visit there a bad experience.

Well, truth be told, I suffered the initial effects of amoebic dysentery there on a sunny June afternoon in 1984. Around the sixth inning, I fled the place and raced home lest disaster strike. For the next week I endured a fever that caused hallucinations and never ventured more than a few steps from the bathroom. So, yeah, that was a bad experience. But it was the only one. Also, I’ve never eaten another hot dog again at Wrigley Field. When I told my doctor I’d eaten a wienie a half hour before my symptoms started, he nodded and told me the bug that got into me very likely came from a food worker who hadn’t washed his hands after relieving himself.

That kind of mental picture never leaves you.

Otherwise, all my experiences — even the disappointments and heartbreaks — at Wrigley Field have been, if not uniformly blissful, at least happy. Even the one Saturday, very early in the season, when the Cubs played a game two days after a fairly heavy snowfall had blanketed Chicago. I sat in the first row of the upper deck and had to stomp my feet almost continuously to keep them warm as there were a couple of inches of ice beneath them. Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux handcuffed the Cubs that afternoon but, still, there was no place I’d rather have been.

A Black Cat Crosses the Cubs Dugout in New York, September 1969.

Not even the time I attended the Chicago Bulls’ NBA championship-clinching game against the Seattle SuperSonics in 1996 could top, for me, any old regular season game at Wrigley Field, even in a year they stunk the joint up.

Perhaps my fondest memory at Wrigley was the game on Tuesday, August 19, 1969. I sat in the centerfield bleachers, actually underneath the big hand-operated scoreboard, part of what gives the place its old-timey feel. I like to think I got the last ticket sold that day because the fellow in the bleachers ticket booth slammed his window shut after he was finished dealing with me.

The Cubs were steamrolling to their first World Series in a generation.  They were in first place, already 31 games over .500 and the city was delirious. Lefthander Kenny Holtzman threw a no-hitter that day against Henry Aaron and his Atlanta Braves. Fans poured out of the stands as his teammates mobbed Holtzman on the mound after the final out.

I was 13 years old and certain my entire life would be validated when the Cubs won the World Series that coming October.

Of course, they didn’t. They suffered their notorious monumental collapse and watched as the heretofore woebegone New York Mets sped past them and won the title.

Nevertheless, that Tuesday remains one of the happiest days of my life.

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