The Gospel Truth

Tom and Hill

May 25, 2015
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It won’t take a rocket scientist to guess that I have adapted my title from an 18th century English nursery rhyme.   My first thought was about the long-time bandleader. Bob Kuban who played at one of our family’s weddings in the early 1990s. His one big hit was a tune from the late sixties that even to this day gets people to tap their toes and sing along. It was called The Cheater and it warned of a Lothario—-a veritable fool-hearted clown who would take your girl and lie and then hurt her!

Does this sound anything like Tom Brady?

My wife does have or had a crush on him but now that he has been publicly vilified as the world’s most despicable professional athletic cheater, he has lost favor with millions of sports fans, of sports fans outside of New England.

I suggest these millions, especially the sanctimonious hack journalists who have pontificated their elite moral values to the rest of us dummies, get a life!

The history of sports is rampant with all kinds of cheating! That’s why they have umpires, referees and field judges because it is endemic to human nature to take advantage of situations that advance their teams’ change for victory.

Sports, games and competitions are only a reflection of what a culture, a people or a country’s attitudes are.

This should come as no surprise to thinking adults that even America’s athletic heroes can and would cheat because cheating is endemic to our fallen human nature.

Cheaters are celebrated in song and in our movies and TV show. Since our progressive society has virtually erased traditional morality from human consciousness, people have been celebrated in their license to break all of the 10 Commandments at will as a sign of personal enlightenment and liberation, including cheating on one’s spouse.

Why then should we be surprised then that athletes will in a culture that stresses and rewards winning immediately that players and coaches will stretch the rules till they break in order to secure the slightest edge that may translate into victories and dollar signs? All sports suffer from the temptation to cheat, to find that subterranean edge.   Greed and vanity not only go before a fall but also ensure that one will fall far and deep. Is that what will happen to Tom Brady?

One reason baseball garners the most print and media coverage is because there are so many ways to cheat. There is a veritable shelf of well-researched books on the history of cheating in baseball. Authors Martin Quigley in his 1984 book, Crooked Pitches and Eldon Ham, in his 2005 book, Larceny and Old Leather demonstrated that cheating was endemic to a sport with so many rules.

One of the first great scandals was gambling. Eliot Asimov’s marvelous 1963 book, Eight Men Out, later made into a movie, detailed the betting scandal that nearly destroyed the game before its Ruthian prime.

It detailed the story of eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox and their attempt to alter the outcome of the World Series with Cincinnati that year.

Eight Men Out details the pinnacle of cheating as eight members of the 1919 Black Sox as they were called. They conspired with gamblers to fix the most pristine of all sporting events in its day–the World Series. All eight were banished for life and most went to their graves with deep regret.

The spitball was another serious problem that grew legs over the decades as the juiced balls flew over the fences with extreme frequency. In baseball’s two decades doctoring a ball was completely legal. (Maybe they should adopt that practice in football.) It was not until Yankee sidewinder, Carl Mays killed Cleveland shortstop, Ray Chapman in 1920 with an underhand fastball that he failed to see that the leagues decided to do something about crooked pitches. What killed Chapman was not the spit or the break of the ball. It was the mud, dirt, grime and even coffee that had been legally applied to alter the flight of the ball that prevented him from judging the pitch’s proximity to his head..

While 17 pitchers were grandfathered, years later many others including Brooklyn’s Preacher Roe, and Gaylord Perry to name just a few, were notorious for fooling the umpires with doctored balls.

A scandal of comparable magnitude that just surface a few years ago was when the Miracle Giants of 1951, which produced the shot heard round the world, the ninth inning home run that catapulted the New York Giants into the world series, which they promptly lost in six games.

During the waning months of the season they stood 13.5 games behind the Boys of Summer, the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers of Jackie Robinson. The Giants coaches had rigged a sophisticated electronic relay system that informed the batters of the coming pitches.

Teams have been stealing each other’s signs for centuries. The Patriots over-blown Spygate was amateurish by comparison with the Giants.

In the 1980’s corked bats became the cause du jour. When the Cardinals confiscated some of Mets’ slugger Howard Johnson’s bats, I used to quip that he corked his arms, not his bats.

Little did I know that the next generation of players would do exactly that with PEDs and create a scandal, not quite on a par with the Black Sox or the High Jinxes of 1951 but enough to taint the blood supply— the statistics of the game.

Lance Armstrong betrayed an adoring crowd and forfeited seven Tour de France titles. His successful battle back from testicular cancer would have brought him the same hero status as his titles did and yet he threw all that away. Now he is paying the price.

For my opinion on Deflationgate on this issue of seemingly great importance, I will have to surrender to the Bard who wrote a comedy centuries ago, entitled Much to do about Nothing. The deflation of footballs is the proverbial tempest in a teapot, which quite possible traces its origins back to Cicero, long before they even had inflatable hog bladders.

The real gravity of this situation is that sports are no more important to final realm of things than were the bread and circuses of the Roman Empire. While games originally serves as legitimate exercise and recreational functions, big time sports have served both the capitalist instinct and the government propensity for keeping its electorate amused and disinterested in what they do behind our backs or now even in front of our passive faces.

One knows that this is true when people get more upset over Brady’s deflated footballs than they do about erstwhile Secretary of State and quite possibly our next POTUS’ financial shenanigans so deftly portrayed in journalist Peter Schweizer’s blockbuster book, Clinton Cash.

I just finished reading it and while there is no smoking gun, the author has pieced together a boatload of evidence that documents the global reach of the Clinton’s growing financial empire.

Schweizer conclusively showed how adroit America’s most megalomaniacal couple have worked the corridors of power around the globe. It is a sordid tale of financial chicanery, money laundering, bribery, influence peddling and crony capitalism.

In the past 17 months alone the couple have amassed millions in speaking fees that can only be justified in access to power and favorable legislation around the world, especially in natural resource exploitation.

It should worry the American people who if Hill is our next president, the Republicans may never see the White House from inside again.

Brady is irrelevant to me but the Clintons may hold my life—all our lives in their scandal-stained hands. Remember HillaryCare in 1993? It was far more intrusive than ObamaCare has been in 2015.

God only knows if Tom will break his crown. Of greater importance is whether Hill comes tumbling after!

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A Thief in the Night

May 18, 2015
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When I was just a small boy, I remember the time my family returned late from an outing, only to find police cars in front of our home. A burglar was reported entering through the second story. After the situation seemed clear, my parents left me alone in their darkened bedroom. Still in the house, the thief made his final forage through the top drawer of my mother’s dresser. The Bible warns us to be vigilant because death can come when you least expect it, like “a thief in the night.” Fortunately he was only interested in money and ignored the dozing boy on the bed.

As an adult receiving mail was something I had grown to joyfully expect. I eagerly awaited its delivery because it brought me business reports, news periodicals, kind words from old friends, and an occasional check. Sometimes I would receive a postcard from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts where I matriculated over five decades ago. The school provides its alumni this unique way of informing us of the recent death of a classmate.

Over the years I have received over 60 such cards, out of a freshman class of 512. These postcards force me to search for any memories I might have had of the decedent. Sometimes the lack of any recollection saddens me for that missed opportunity for a personal connection.

The cause of death for my classmates has been varied. Two perished in helicopters in Vietnam. Several died of cancer or heart ailments and there was at least one suicide, a diminutive fellow who played Mickey Mouse at the 1965 World’s Fair. Of the number of classmates who entered the priesthood, one of the few who stayed was murdered, ironically by “a thief in the night” who had come to rob his rectory on the island of Jamaica a quarter century ago. I have grown to dread these postcards, not only because a forgotten friend may be on one, but because of their unspoken truth that there is one with my name on it waiting to be mailed.

The one card that upset me the most was the one I didn’t get. My roommate for three years at the Cross was a tall, blond fellow, named Peter T. Lawrence. While we were not bosom buddies he was like the brother I never had. He was a brilliant young man with a deep intellect that took me most of my life to approach. Yet he was troubled by some unseen drive or feeling that made him appear inward and even introverted.

We lost contact over the years. The last time I had seen him he had a wife and two beautifully blonde children.   It was 1980.   Years later I decided to write him and explain to him how much he had meant to me as a friend and how much he had inspired my intellectual drive before one of us ended up on a postcard. I also mentioned that if he chose not to answer I would understand.

Well nothing happened for six months. At Christmas I got a card with his name on it and his last known address. However it was not from Peter but from his widow. The last number of years had not been kind to him. He had been separated from his family and had suffered a series of strokes that virtually incapacitated him. On the prior New Years’ Eve, a massive stroke had ended his life.

I immediately contacted his two best friends from grade school and high school respectfully. The college finally got a notice of his passing and while it was mentioned in the Quarterly Alumni publication there never was any postcard. Peter did not get his postcard! There seemed to be some sort of cosmic injustice in that.

The undeniable truth is death comes to us all in many different shapes and forms. It is more inevitable than taxes. At birth each one of us is guaranteed two dates: the one on which we are born and the date that closes the brackets on our personal history. Better than any other line in literature, John Donne’s quote from his Meditations XVII, No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main captured the shared universality of our demise. Every time someone dies it diminishes our earthly existence and reminds us just how mortal we are.

Life is not only precious but also sacred. I am dismayed that so many people waste or carelessly throw theirs away. Sure life can be hard but too many people seem to have forgotten this life is but a preparation for the one to come. I am also amazed that so many make elaborate plans for “retirement,” only to die shortly after ending their careers. I often wonder if they planned as well on how they would spend eternity.

The daily obituary pages now offer us the smiling faces of countless strangers, friends, and family. Like my Holy Cross postcards, they serve as constant reminders that we should live each day with grace, good cheer and love as if it were our last, just in case that “thief in the night” might decide to take our most valuable possession.

 


The War on Words

May 5, 2015
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camFor the last 30 years we have heard or read millions of words on the wars on poverty, terrorism and women. One war that most people have not even noticed is the war on words…an insidious attempt to control the language and with it the thoughts, minds and lives of the American people.

Many age-old aphorisms have warned of the importance of a nation’s loss of its language and the true meaning of its words.  Novelist Robert L. Stevenson (Kidnapped) proclaimed that words are power. Orwell said that controlling language makes humans easy to control.  Orwell’s corollary of this appeared in his dystopian novel, 1984: Those who control the past control the future.

Of Orwellian proportions the current war on words has won battles on many fronts in this country. Minority groups, such as Jews, blacks, gays, females and now Muslims all have protective words that have hermetically sealed them from any sanctioned verbal or intellectual challenge or assault.

Contrived words with little substance or literary value abound in our politically correct world. These  shields of verbal armor include Anti-Semitism, Racism, Homophobia, Sexism and now Islamophobia.

Unlike the old adage I learned as a child about sticks and stones, like a hilarious Geico Insurance commercial with the ill-fated lonely cowboy, these words can not only hurt you but destroy your careers, marriages and stain you with a secular guilt that no water or absolution will ever wash away.

In general they all mean irrational attacks on the integrity, history or culture of an ethnic group, race, lifestyle or a non-Christian religion. Their very invocation end any sort of fair and honest debate as to the merits of their programs, ideas, policies and moral vision.

They are by their very nature collectively reminiscent of the anti-intellectualism that has flared up among the left for several generations.

These contrived words with little substance have a power of their own. They have become the vanguard of the politics of personal destruction and their power grows by the minute in our schools, universities, businesses and even many of our churches.

My Catholic Church appears in the crosshairs of many of these groups for its attempts to support and buttress the remnants of the Western Civilization they contributed largely to over the last 1500 years.

Jewish people don’t like our Gospel according to St. John because he warns of the fear of the Jews. Gays feel uncomfortable in our churches because of our designation of their sexual proclivities as deviant and sinful. Women think they should be running the Church and ordained to our male priesthood. The Muslims blame us for the Crusades, which to them were nothing more than Roman imperialism, quickly forgetting that in the second century of their existence they had brought Jihad to the gates of Paris.

I see the day, already here in Canada, when a priest will be arrested for preaching against homosexual behaviors.  I see the day when any letter to the editor that does not laud these groups will never see the light of day. No religious person will be welcome on a college campus anywhere in America. They will have to shed their religious beliefs like offensive garments at the doors of elected office.

That day has already ascended on many of our schools.  In reality these anti-American ideas create confusion and a fear among its people who will cower millions into silent cooperation.

In some cases there is even confusion among its participants. Many years ago I was at Holy Cross for a football game. At a meeting for class agents, a young black school administrator was pontificating on the importance of people of color. Now I don’t mind any sort of reasonable change in nomenclature but with black people change seems to be endemic to their race.

In my lifetime a black person has been politely called a colored person, a Negro, black, African-American and now some wished to be called people of color. No wonder so many black people tend to be confused about their racial identity. I raised my hand and asked the young POC a rhetorical question: Isn’t calling a person, ‘someone of color’, very close to calling him or her a colored person? In other words in the wild and crazy word of identity politics, have we not come full circle?

Another area that roils my blood, though not as important as any of the above is heated battle over the mascot names of dozens of American sports franchises on the professional and the campus level.

Native Americans have become very influential in American culture. They have traded the stupor of the reservation for the luxury and power of the gambling casino.   A small number of advocates have made it their main purpose to rid our sports culture of any mention of their warlike background. In others words this is a vain attempt at rewriting Indian history, including the cultural tributes bestowed on them by naming sports teams after their heritage.

Personally, I still call them Indians, even though that was it was a Columbian misnomer…but then so is their contrived substitute Native American. The American Indian migrated across the Bering Straits eons ago. They were just early immigrants to the area that became the Americas.

Literally dozens of professional, college and high school teams had lionized Indians by calling their teams, Indians, Warriors, Braves and so on. Can anyone think of one team that has chosen a name to denigrate its sports franchise?

Even the Whittier College Poets, where Richard Nixon sat on the football team bench, revered its namesake, James Greenleaf Whittier.

The only ones I can think of that may be even considered were the Indianapolis Clowns, a Negro League team that Henry Aaron once played for. Of course there was the short-lived substitute for the Stanford Indians, who for one season were called the Thunder Chickens. That sounds like a self-parody! Now they are named after a color, just like most of major league baseball’s pioneer teams, who chose their names from the color of their socks. And Stanford now has a tree as a mascot. How green of them!

To date virtually all derivations of Indian heritage have banished from the face and real estate of  life in America.

I got my MA from St. John’s University when they were called the Redmen. I didn’t see anything offensive about that and their cheerleaders, two of whom I had dated in high school, were nothing but respectful. I will admit that their new name The Red Storm is an attractive and reasonable substitution but the very fact that they had to be coerced into change still annoys me.

The last Indian mascot standing was the ill-fated North Dakota University Fighting Sioux. In use for over 70 years the name first came under fire in 1999 when the UND athletics program’s use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo was the subject of controversy and conflict with the NCAA, resulting in the unpopular decision to retire the Sioux nickname and Indian head logo in 2012.

While The Sioux had a brief respite in 2012 it has now been completely legislated and coerced out of existence by the state and the race-conscious (fearful) NCAA, which threatened them with expulsion from its ranks should they stubbornly resist this coercive sociological change. To date no mascot name has replaced the still locally popular Fighting Sioux. As an aside is the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame University next on the politically correct hit list?  Or my own Holy Cross Crusaders!


About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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