Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jim Bouton Is Exactly Right

The Fan has long thought the "sanctity" of the game of baseball was a bunch of hooey. And "hooey" is exactly the euphemism that leads to Jim Bouton. Being a lifelong and passionate Fan of the major leagues has never led to some kind of deification of its players. Bouton, who entertained millions of us with his book, "Ball Four," added to that level of pragmatism.

"Hooey" after all is the polite form of the expression: "Horse Sh__." Bouton made a huge impression on this young mind when he introduced that curse combination in his book (it was Ralph Houk's favorite expression apparently). The Fan was so excited about the word combination at the time that he couldn't wait to use it. The opportunity came at a local basketball game in Bergenfield, New Jersey. A ref made a bad call and out it came in full-throated flower. Everything stopped in the auditorium and all eyes turned to the Fan in horror.

Despite that unique and somewhat embarrassing memory, the Fan has never believed Bouton violated his fellow players, and in particular, Mickey Mantle. Mantle has maintained his heroic status through the years despite Bouton painting the obvious that the Mick wasn't a perfect human being. Since none of us are, that's the point.

That is why, despite all the drivel being written about Joe Torre's new book, Bouton is correct...perfectly correct in his analysis of the outcry. If ball players wanted "sanctity," they should have been grocery clerks.

Part of the deal of being one of the highest paid, luckiest individuals on the planet who get to make a living doing something they love for work, is knowing that every part of that baseball career will be scrutinized, analyzed and written about. Joe Torre did not violate anything. He wrote (along with his co-author) what he saw and what he felt. Good for him. If it wasn't him making a little coin with this information, it would have been somebody else. That's life in the public eye.

The Yankees 1996-2007 run was high drama and the biggest story in sports. Torre will not be alone in painting the times the way it was seen by those who lived through it. Get over it sportswriters and fans. The Fan sees nothing amiss here.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

I have mixed feelings on this, but under the circumstances I don't think Torre has done anything wrong or violated anyone's trust.