If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it fall, does it make a noise?
If the Mets assemble the greatest team in baseball, and there is nobody in the news media who speaks Spanish to interview its stars, do they exist?
One of the great genius sports writers who covers the Mets recently complained in his column that if he wanted an interview with the team, David Wright and Billy Wagner were the only English-speaking players he could communicate with.
Now with all that loot that The Post is raking in, taking kickbacks from the Dolan family and from the big banks and insurance companies to bury Hillary Clinton, you'd think that they could afford to hire a sportswriter who speaks a little Spanish, but ooooooohhhh noooooo! those knuckleheads evidently can't imagine anyone would care what's on the minds of some of New York's star attractions.
OK, these players are not Shakespearean actors or nuclear scientists. The conversation, if there was any, would be about dirty sliders, missed opportunities, batting slumps and all the other sundry, mundane details that compose a ballplayer's universe.
But sometimes the great historical wisdom of the ages is expressed in simple, childlike terms, as in the fables of Aesop and Lafontaine, or the histories of Hansl and Gretl and Cinderella, that were transformed into great operas and ballets. No one ballplayer is font of cultural wisdom (maybe Yogi Berra or Casey Stengel), but all the cumulative wisdom of all those great athletic heroes certainly has as much relevance and impact on human civilization as any hot air emanating from the supposed centers of power and culture.
This country is filling up with foreign immigrants at a breathtaking pace, and we welcome them because, actually, our geographical landmass has the capacity to support a much larger population, and in the future a country that has aspirations of greatness, like we do, is going to need an immense population to compete with the other superstates. Europe is now at 450 million paying customers, not to mention China, India, Brazil, etc.
This great wealth of population can be expected to make many great contributions to our culture, but these contributions will be of an exotic variety. These people will never be real Americans in the sense that we understand it. That is because they will never understand baseball.
Baseball is one of the greatest manifestations of culture that America has endowed upon the world. It is a game of stealth and deception, wisdom and patience, of grace and suspense and speed, of balletic precision and acrobatic attainment. Baseball relies upon throwing more than any other game in the world. Everybody has to be able to throw, not just the quarterback. No other game places so much emphasis upon throwing. Americans are rocket people.
The rules and terminology of baseball are so arcane and obscure that they have to be learned at a very young age, like French, and the older you get the more the facility slips away from you. For an adult foreigner to learn to watch baseball (never mind to learn to play it) is an absolute impossibility. That's how they used to catch **** spies during World War II. The guy might sound legitimate, but if he didn't know Tinkers to Evers to Chance, lock him up!
I'll tell you the worst - did you ever go to a baseball game with a foreigner? Talk about misery:
"Why do they call it a Texas League single? Is he from Texas?"
"If the batter is allowed to hit as many foul balls as he wants, why did he just strike out?"
"Because that was a bunt."
"What's a bunt?"
The worst experience was when I tried to comfort this foreign guy for something he did wrong. I said, "Even Babe Ruth used to strike out." The guy said, "Who's Babe Ruth."
So, there is no way you can be a Real American if you don't know baseball, OK? I hope I established that fact.
But in this we are joined by our Latin American cousins, who learned the arcane beauties of the game from us. Santo Domingo, Cuba, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico have embraced the game with the same depth of emotion that they ordinarily reserve for the Pope or Gloria Trevi. They bring to the game a base of machismo and athletic prowess that are the perfect complements of our own, and with a glorious passion for sport that is entirely their inspiration.
There is not enough band width in cyberspace to enumerate all the great Latin Players who have enriched the game. Let me just quote you a couple of names: Johann Santana, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes. Reyes is my favorite player. He is like a sparkplug with a firecracker attached to it. One game recently he hit two triples and then followed up by almost getting an inside-the-field homerun. Reyes attacks the game like a starving man plowing through a Big Mac.
Spanish people are fiends when it comes to baseball. You go to a game in the DR, which has had an organized baseball league since 1908, and they have a meringue band in the center field bleachers for between innings. The fans bring conga drums and flags, and the vendors sell pina coladas. When a player makes a great play, the place erupts like a bullfight. That's what I'm talking about, folks, emotion!
Take Mets pitcher Orlando Hernandez. When he winds up and throws that wild kick in the air, he looks like a wild tropical bird on a rock at the beach in Cancun. What Anglo-Saxon pitcher would adopt such a wild delivery? The coaches and the other players would browbeat it out of him. "Forget the kick," they would tell him, "You don't need it." Look at all the grief they give Joba Chamberlain for the dopey little arm pump that he likes to do when he strikes out a batter. America does not appreciate irrational exuberance of surfeit expressions of style. Latin baseball has contributed a wild love of life to the game the same way their soccer has revolutionized that sport.
How did Hernandez get that kick? We don't know, because no sportswriter has enough Spanish to ask him. Not that the answer would be that illuminating. "I kick high because it helps me throw harder." Well, a gold mine rarely consists of a two-ton boulder of gold. It usually comes from the cumulative weight of zillions of tiny grains of gold, and that's what Mets fans are missing out on.
So it's a terrible tragedy that the players can't talk to the fans to give them their point of view about batting and fielding grounders, training tips and injuries, all because the sportswriters are to ignorant to interview 90% of the team. It's not because they are taciturn. Spanish people love to talk about baseball. It's the sportswriters. Billy Wagner and David Wright are very important players and very intelligent guys, but how is a fan ever going to really have any feeling for the Mets if many of the team's most important stars are ignored by the press?
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