Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Razing Arizona

By Ross Newhan

    I do not agree with colleagues who are demanding that baseball remove the 2011 All-Star game from Arizona in protest over the new law that will further burden law officials with the potential for racial profiling.

    Removing the All-Star game would be unfair to the host Diamondbacks and to true fans looking forward to it. Of course, many of these fans support the new law at the same time that they stand and cheer for the heroics of Hispanic Diamondback players or Hispanic players on other teams. Of course, hypocrisy thy name has always been sports.

    What should be done, of course, and the silence is deafening, is for Commissioner Bud Selig to come out with a strong statement, as the players union, has done, that he opposes the new law and is appalled by the prospect of racial profiling in the United States and its national pastime. Selig is an Arizona homeowner and commissioner of a sport in which half of the 30 teams train in Arizona, in which about 30 percent of the players are Hispanic and in which Jackie Robinson is now honored as a racial busting pioneering on a yearly basis.

   Is he waiting for a Hispanic player to be pulled over in spring training and asked to show his government papers? Does this consensus-building commissioner, and in most cases his desire to first build a consensus among his constituents before taking action is a positive thing, need a consensus on the appalling prospect of racial profiling?

   On Cinco de Mayo, the Phoenix Suns, for their playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs tonight, will be wearing jerseys that read Los Suns in protest against the prospect that this new law will become offical and as a show of respect for the diversity of Arizona and the United States.

   We all know that illegal immigration is a serious issue that has been swept aside by a succession of Presidents and buried under the partisanship of Washington. But a law that makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and orders the police to stop and question people about their immigration status and demand to see their documents if there is reason to suspect they are illegal is a law that demands Tina Fey broaden out and parody (ridicule?) Gov. Jan Brewer as she does Brewer's crony, Sarah Palin.

    In the meantime, Selig needs to stand up and point out that every day of a 162 game season baseball puts diversity on display and he is shocked that a state which is something of a second home to baseball would enact a law in which the products of that diversity may have to carry papers saying they are who they say they are. He doesn't have to explain the infield fly rule. He only has to join the ground swell and explain he is shocked by this potential squeeze play.

The Passing of Ernie Harwell

      In almost 50 years on the baseball beat I never met a nicer, sweeter gentle man than the Detroit Tiger announcer who passed away Tuesday at 92 after a year long battle with cancer.

      Harwell was the poet of the midwest, an announcer who could take a Bible verse and make it applicable to the game he was working. In an age in which diction, explanation and illumination has become a lost art among baseball broadcasters who drone on in monotone, Harwell was a beacon, the man next door telling you in simple but meaningful terms about the game you were missing as you barbecued on a Tuesday night in July.

     There may be only one Vin Scully, but trust me: Harwell lived and worked in the same neighborhood.


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