From Hank Greenberg to Delmon Young

By Jack Engelhard

There’s a clip somewhere showing Hank Greenberg rounding the bases after a homerun and upon reaching the dugout none of his Detroit Tigers teammates offered so much as a smile or a handshake. They ignored him. Well, he was Jewish. There’s evidence that he suffered for that as much as Jackie Robinson suffered for being black.

Two great ballplayers, one Jewish, one black, and sharing the same abuses, they became friends.

Greenberg was known for his reserve but he once challenged the entire New York Yankees dugout after their taunts became too much for him. He wasn’t religious but, as the first Jewish superstar in American sports, Greenberg took himself out of an important game because it fell on Yom Kippur…years BEFORE Sandy Koufax…and…for World War II, he refused deferment and got himself drafted into the military BEFORE Ted Williams.

We could go on about Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg (183 RBIs, 1937…58 homeruns, 1938…), but then there’d be no room to talk about Delmon Young. He also plays for Detroit except that this is another year, another generation, and what’s changed? Nothing much.

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Yo, Glenn Beck, Cool It On New Jersey!

By Jack Engelhard

 

I caught your show on Fox the other day, the one where you removed New Jersey from the map and I guess I was supposed to laugh but I didn’t. This is where I live and it’s as fine a place as any other in the Unites States of America – and maybe even better. Yes, I scan the headlines, too, so I know about all the arrests. I know there’s corruption.

 

Hello? From state to state, where isn’t there corruption? I could pick any state – the rest of the 49 – and name names but I won’t so as not to insult the good people who live there and who have nothing to do with pay-to-play. Where to begin? Pennsylvania, which just got through sentencing that man Fumo? New York? Does the name Eliot Spitzer ring a bell? North Dakota? How about Rob Blagojevich?

 

Let’s not even talk about Louisiana and Illinois.   

 

Sorry to be mentioning some names but I just couldn’t help myself – though, if pressed, I could mention even more.

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Sotomayor, Fox News and GOP Malaise

By Jack Engelhard

 

Those of us who tuned in for a slugfest were disappointed and went back to cutting the lawn. This was no Ali versus Frazier. There were no thrills. Even Fox News abruptly turned off, literally, and returned to regular programming so that Shepard Smith could get himself excited about the Murder of the Day. Only one person gave it some spice, on Fox, and it wasn’t a senator; it was anchorwoman Megyn Kelly. I’m nuts about this lady.

 

Yes, I know the howls at the mention of Fox News, but come on, Roger Ailes knows how to pick the right people (except for Geraldo) and how to keep stories moving.

 

Obviously, ratings were taking a dive. CNN took the hint from Fox and began easing off those hearings as well. News – especially on television – needs a plot, needs a narrative, needs good guys and bad guys, needs to entertain, needs drama and this simply wasn’t good television, never mind good theater.

 

There’s nothing to say about Democrat questioning since those guys are already sold on Sonia Sotomayor. (Amazingly, Al Franken was best of the rest.)

 

But just for the fun of it, we wanted some action from the Republicans.

 

When a hockey game gets dull, there is always someone from the stands who yells – “Hit somebody!”

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How The Mighty Keep Falling (Like Phelps)

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Is this payback for ingratitude?

 

As we all know, the hero of the recent Olympics is (was!) Michael Phelps, and he did it all in the water. He won eight gold medals at the 2008 Games, finally surpassing the previous record of seven held by Mark Spitz. Those were the headlines of a short time ago. Today’s headlines remind us that no one is perfect.

 

Phelps was caught smoking marijuana. Give him credit. He doesn’t deny. But he’s already been tarnished, first by reputation, and now by finance. Kellog just announced that it will not renew its endorsement contract with him, other sponsors are on the verge, and the Olympic Committee has suspended him for three months. He will lose millions.

 

Yes, how the mighty have fallen – and so fast!

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Recession Bingo

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Turns out – according to The New York Times – that Barack Obama took in nearly a billion dollars for his successful presidential campaign; all that from fellow Americans donating their pennies, nickels and dimes, and all of it during a time when we’re being told that there’s a Recession going on.

 

I forget what sum what’s his name collected on the Republican side, nothing that can match Obama’s windfall, that’s for sure, but it was plenty.

 

So what Recession are we talking about? Yes, many of us are hurting, but SOMEBODY is raking it in. Like I always say – everything depends on luck.

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Best of 2008? Please Don’t Bother

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

So here we go again. News organizations and what-not trot out the best of the year – also the worst. The worst is easy for anyone who makes these lists.

 

But I hate these lists. Please don’t tell me what books I should have read, movies I should have seen, or music I should have listened to; I only listened to Beethoven anyway.

 

So far as world events all I remember is war, right up to this minute. Pick the spot, and there was war or some kind of disturbance. People just don’t get along.

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Where Have You Gone Sandy Koufax?

By Jack Engelhard

 

The last time I read anything good about Israel (meaning Jews worldwide as well as the nation itself) was when Sandy Koufax pitched for the Dodgers and especially when he sat out the first game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. So we have to go back to the 1960s to find anything to celebrate.

 

Ehud Olmert says he’s “tired of winning.” I’m tired of losing. I’m tired of Ehud Olmert.

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I’m Trapped In Your Commercial

By Jack Engelhard

 

Say this about the 1960s. Those years were spontaneous. We didn’t know what’s coming next. Anything could happen and it usually did and sometimes it was good and sometimes it was bad but in either case it was real. Does anybody remember REAL– I mean when people and events were authentic?

 

I’m still catching bad music from that column I wrote in which I refused to dance at that wedding that took place in Denver, which was so altogether sanitized and scripted, like a commercial or a movie, all the people performing as directed – and this is no knock on one party or another. It’s what we’ve become, all of us, not necessarily robots, but actors, you know, read your lines and shut up.

 

“Do not deviate from the script.” This goes for the performers and all the rest of us in the bleachers.

 

We are all living in a commercial. I am trapped in your commercial and I can’t get out!

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Hemingway’s Olympics

By Jack Engelhard

 

Here’s Hemingway as told to A. E. Hotchner:

 

“They shot a lot of our good guys in the war –but the beauty of our country is that there’s a good guy born every minute.”

 

That’s for sure.

 

Hemingway disputed Gertrude Stein’s flapdoodle about a “lost generation.” He found replenishing generations in his own time and even in our time. Surely and prophetically he was speaking about the “good guys” fighting for us in Iraq and Afghanistan and standing guard for us around the rest of the world.

 

Whenever we get to despairing about “the youth” of our country, here they come again, another generation of stouthearted men and women.

 

Where do we find such kids? Don’t know. But know this: God keeps on blessing America.

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The Beijing Olympics Raw

By Jack Engelhard
I’ve already lost three friends for mocking the “Opening Ceremonies” for these 2008 Summer Olympics, saying, as I did, that I can get the same cartwheels, pyrotechnics and all the rest of that hoopla at any circus or carnival. Even my neighborhood’s Fourth of July is more spectacular and I’m not much for spectacles anyway. For that, I’m accused of being ornery. Fine. Let it be.
  

In fact, I think that’s the theme for these Games: Let It Be or “We Are The World” or “One World, One Voice.” Or maybe, “All We Need Is Love.”
  

Or maybe “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.”
  

Watching the Parade of Nations I was amazed that there were so many people out there in the world — and most of them are not Americans. How did this happen?
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