Finneran: Now Pitching - Donald Trump
Friday, July 27, 2018
The Donald is now America’s starting pitcher and he dominates the news just as Sandy Koufax did in his day.
Koufax, of course, had pinpoint control. The Donald, on the other hand, throws some wild pitches.
I suspect that some—perhaps many-- of those wild pitches have a hidden but deliberate purpose. As with any good pitcher, the goal is to keep the hitter unsure and off-balance.
In that regard, the Donald reminds me of two Yankee pitchers of old---Whitey Ford and Ryne Duren.
Ford, a New York City kid, was a great pitcher. He combined masterful control, a variety of pitches, a hypnotic pick-off move, and a professional calm which made him a multiple season twenty game winner and a World Series stud. It helped of course that he had a fabulous team behind him---Richardson, Kubek, Boyer, Howard, Berra, Skowron, Mantle, Maris, etc. Holy cow! Now that’s a team.
Duren was no Whitey Ford. But, he was clever. He combined a reputation for hard drinking, poor vision, a killer fastball, and lack of control into a Jedi mind-game over batters who were suddenly uncomfortable in the batter’s box.
Duren was a relief pitcher and it was rumored that he harbored a potent stash of whiskey on his person while killing time in the bullpen. He also wore thick Coke-bottle glasses to help with his vision as well as with his intimidation of those batters on-deck. Finally, during his warm-up pitches, he had a habit of Magoo-like peering in at the catcher and firing one or two fastballs over his head and off the screen behind home plate. After that, not too many batters were digging in to the batter’s box, much preferring to stay alive.
Of course all the best pitchers---Koufax, Gibson, Spahn, Ford, Palmer, Tiant, Martinez---mastered the change-up. It’s a killer pitch, often making batters flail and fall down as they try to adjust.
Donald Trump throws change-ups. Call Cooperstown.
Consider his presidential pardon of Jack Johnson, the great black heavyweight fighter of the early twentieth century. Johnson’s federal “crime” was to have crossed state lines in the company of a white woman. Oh, the horror! Oh, the scandal! It all seems so ridiculous today, but it was a grim and hateful reality back in those days of virulent racism.
Fast forward to 2018, with President Trump regularly accused of being a stalwart racist and sending dog-whistle signals to all those backward white Americans who yearn for a restoration of Jim Crow and white supremacy.
So what does the alleged racist President do re Jack Johnson? He issues the presidential pardon that Barack Obama declined to do. And of course, with Trump being Trump, he does it at a press conference in the Oval Office, attended by Mr. Johnson’s relatives, several boxing legends, and other admirers. Talk about a change-up!
Better yet, within the next two weeks, starting pitcher Trump fires another change-up, this one orchestrated by a Kardashian on behalf of a black woman from Tennessee. There was probably a brawl over the klieg lights between the Donald and the Kardashian creature but the presidential action was telling---a poor black woman without resources or influence received a measure of mercy, of kindness, and of justice from the nation’s starting pitcher.
Change-ups keep hitters off balance. The Times must be gnashing its teeth.
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