Archive for December, 2008

Greg Maddux Retires

December 6, 2008 Leave a comment
Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux

I just read the news of Maddux’s retirement at the Sports Illustrated website. He will officially announce it on Monday. Not a surprise, but still something of a shock. I hoped he would find a way to pitch forever. And I read an accompanying appreciation by SI baseball writer Tom Verducci.

I remember when I first understood Maddux’s greatness. I was in Bath, Maine, sitting in the living room of the Inn at Bath on a beautiful sunny day, with light pouring in from all the windows. It must have been 1995. And there on one of the side tables was an issue of Sports Illustrated with a lengthy article about him. (Perhaps it was the August 14, 1995 issue, with Greg on the cover and the heading “The Greatest Pitcher You’ll Ever See.” Must be. Written, of course, by Tom Verducci.) I learned more about the art of pitching from that article than from anything I had ever read before. And my sitting in the Inn reading the article is one of my clearest memories from our many visits to Bath in the mid 1990s.

Here is part of the opening of today’s Verducci appreciation:

Greg Maddux is the most fascinating interview, the smartest baseball player and the most highly formed baseball player I have encountered in 27 years covering major league baseball. There is no one alive who ever practiced the craft of pitching better than Maddux.

Like a grand master in chess, Maddux saw the game on a higher plane than everybody else. Some of his tricks he shared with me, such as knowing how to attack a hitter after watching the hitter take his warmup swings. There was the time he was in the dugout decoding the body language of Jose Hernandez of the Dodgers during an at-bat when he deadpanned to a teammate, “Watch this. The first base coach may be going to the hospital.” On the next pitch Hernandez drilled a line drive off the chest of the first-base coach. Well, Maddux was wrong about the hospital part, anyway.

And here is the conclusion:

Maddux was the genuine article, a ballplayer evolved to the highest form. It is fitting that he is the winningest pitcher alive, an honor he should keep up to his very last breath. This appreciation, not by accident, made no mention of any career statistic of Maddux, no more than you would cite records sold to describe the voice of Sinatra. Maddux is synonymous with the art of pitching. He was that good. Never again will we see, or hear, anyone quite like him.

Categories: Sports, Today's News

Gravy: A Thanksgiving Tale

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

This post describes a Thanksgiving meal that I helped serve last Thursday. Read more…

Categories: Food, Life

Torture and the Press

December 1, 2008 1 comment

I’ve been sitting on a couple of items since last week, intending to write something about them, but I haven’t yet and they’re getting old, so here they are. The issue is the press coverage last week of John Brennan’s withdrawal from consideration as the new head of the CIA. The word was that Obama was going to select him, and this choice came in for heavy criticism by some in the press because of Brennan’s role in the Bush administration’s rendition and torture programs. Yet some of the mainstream press coverage, under the heading of fair and balanced, wrote about the controversy rather than the content of the issues themselves. It reminds me of coverage of evolution versus intelligent design, or of climate change. Just because somebody with some title at some institute adopts a view shared by almost no one in the scientific community, we have to give both sides coverage and use language that in its attempt to adopt a content-free neutrality manages to ignore the plain truth.

In the matter at hand, the analogous behavior leads to the rule that we can’t call torture torture. We have to talk about acts that some consider torture. Which brings me to the first item, a post last Wednesday by Andrew Sullivan that I’ll quote in its entirety:

From their piece on John Brennan’s withdrawal from contending for the top CIA post under Obama:

“Obama’s advisers had grown increasingly concerned in recent days over online blogs that accused Brennan of condoning harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects, including waterboarding, which critics consider torture.”

There is some debate about some of the techniques used on prisoners by Bush and Cheney, but no sane person with any knowledge of the subject disputes the fact that waterboarding is and always has been torture. So why cannot the AP tell the truth?

And now on to coverage of the same matter by Mark Mazzetti in the New York Times. Read more…

Categories: Politics, Today's News

Bonus Day with Joel

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

That’s the good news — an extra day with Joel. The bad news is that his flight to Boston last night, due out at 11:25 PM, was cancelled after midnight. Maybe the details are not worth recording, but what’s a blog for if I can’t complain? Here goes: Read more…

Categories: Family, Travel

Religious Abuse in the “War on Terror”

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

I’m simply posting this to link to the lead article in the current Commonweal. The issue came on line over the weekend and this article is available without a paid online subscription. The article is written by Michael Peppard, a PhD candidate in religious studies at Yale University, and its subtitle is the title of this post. One excerpt from early on gives you an idea of what the article is about:

Amid pyramids of naked bodies, Jack Bauer hypotheticals, and a national debate on waterboarding, we have overlooked the deliberate desecration used to torture devout Muslim detainees. From the perspective of many detainees, this has been the worst kind of torture.

The details matter, so read it all. Near the end an analogy is drawn with the Hanukkah story.

And while you’re at Commonweal, you can read another article that doesn’t require a subscription, Margaret O’Brien Steinfels’ piece Mis-governance: Cleaning Up After the Bush Administration. Sample quote:

The Bush administration will be gone January 20, but its legal interpretations will live on. Ferreting out the illegal directives and secret misdeeds may not be the most critical issue the new administration faces, but it will be vital to good governance to track down and rescind the directives given to the CIA, the NSA, and other agencies, including those that permit attacks around the world by Special Forces. Unless they are reined in, these misbegotten practices will live on.

Categories: Politics, Religion