The Reflectionist

Location: New York, New York

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The New York Times Admits a Mistake, Sort Of

Reading the New York Times on line has advantages. It allows you to look at ads for different historic pictures from their archive on almost every page. On October 16 I was reading an article and noticed a picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson. Intrigued, I clicked on it to get the particulars. Here is the copy that accompanied the picture:

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson - circa 1919 NSAP392

Jackson was one of the game's great natural hitters and a fielder whose glove was called "the place where triples go to die." But his stellar career was tainted by his involvement with the infamous Black Sox Scandal in the 1919 World Series.

I was shocked to see the phrase "the place where triples go to die." It was wrong to apply it to the glove of Shoeless Joe Jackson. I sent the Times this letter asking them to correct it:

To the Editor,
The copy accompanying the picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson says his glove "was where triples go to die." That phrase might have been loosely attributed to many ballplayers, including Shoeless Joe, in recent years, but was first, and most famously, used to describe the glove of Tris Speaker. Although Mr. Speaker is not as well remembered as Mr. Jackson, it being tough to compete with the nickname "Shoeless" (not to mention Mr. Jackson's infamy for being involved in the worst scandal to hit Major League Baseball until Steroids appeared). That does not excuse the Times from sloppily applying to Mr. Jackson the well earned motto of Tris Speaker, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. At that time he was considered the best center fielder who had ever lived. By then Mr. Jackson was remembered as a great hitter, a tragic figure, and a capable left fielder.
Dennis Nyback

I then patiently waited for the Times to take action. On November sixth I decided I had waited long enough and decided to contact them again. I sent them this:

Dear Times,
A couple of weeks ago I wrote to alert you to a mistake in your paper. I assumed it would be corrected. So far, I've been wrong. My being wrong is of little consequence. The Times being wrong, and continuing to be wrong, is another thing. The mistake is in the copy accompanying the picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson that you sell.
Joe Jackson was a great hitter and an good left fielder. The phrase "Where triples go to die" has been attributed to more than one player. They include the fine center fielder Willie Mays. It is never properly applied to a left fielder. The phrase was coined to describe the glove of the Hall of Fame center fielder Tris Speaker. It happened during the 1912 World Series where Mr. Speaker's Red Sox defeated the New York Giants, largely due to Mr. Speaker's glove snagging multiple shots into the outfield that turned extra base hits into out.
Considering that the Red Sox are the current World Series Champions, and that Mr. Jackson is a disgraced member of the only team to be caught throwing the Series, you should change your copy and discontinue spreading this mis-information. Heck, you should do it just because it's right.
Best Wishes
Dennis Nyback

Having not gotten action sending a letter to the Editor, I sent this one to the Publisher, Public Editor, OpEd Editor, and to all the other addresses I found of management people who I thought might be able correct the copy.

On November thirteen I found that the Times had changed the copy. It now reads:

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson - Circa 1919 NSAP392

Jackson, left fielder for the Chicago White Sox, was one of baseball's great natural hitters, but his stellar career was tainted by his involvement with the infamous Black Sox Scandal in the 1919 World Series.

This correction was not reported in the paper. It doesn't really matter. What I am hoping for is soon a picture of Tris Speaker will be offered for sale by the Times and will state that his glove was "The place where triples go to die."

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Naked Cowboy and George Bush

Tonight we went to a party of a nice young guy who is the son of my wife's good friend from the upper west side. He just moved to Portland. A guy at the party mentioned the Naked Cowboy. Man, to me the naked cowboy symbolizes what is wrong with America. Have you seen him in Times Square? / Here is a picture:

If you will notice, he is NOT NAKED! He has shorts on! Tighty Whities! He is a celebrity. People want to get their picture taken in Times Square with the Naked Cowboy. They ignore the fact that he is NOT NAKED and accept him as THE NAKED COWBOY!

This explains how George Bush got elected. People say "he is smart"" and everyone accepts that as a fact even though it is obviously not true. People say he tells the truth and it is accepted as a fact although he is serial liar. People say he is tough and it is accepted as a fact although his idea of toughness is to say "bring it on" and allow soldiers under his command to fight for him. God help us.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Aaron Drops to Number Two

For fifty years we could depend on one thing: The all time list of major league baseball players started with Hank Aaron. How comforting that the all time home run champion was also the first player on the list through alphabetical happenstance. The end of the list has its own serendipity. It ends with Zwilling, as in Edward "Dutch" Zwilling. He was born in St. Louis in 1888 and made his major league debut with the White Sox in 1910. That was just for what baseball fans call "a cup of coffee." He got into twenty seven games. He was back in the bigs with the Cubs in 1916. He managed to play in 35 more games before hanging his spikes up for good. For his career he had a .157 batting average and one home run. It seems appropriate that the end man on the list would be tied for least home runs (we will disregard those who have none as not being worthy of being on a list of home run hitters) and the head man would be alone at at the top with 755.

So, what happened to supplant Mr. Aaron from his rightful place? Why was the event not on the nightly news nor prominently mentioned in the sports pages? Why did it get almost no mention anywhere at all? How could it be that it happened last year and I only heard about it today? I have no answer for that. I can just report that this momentous event occurred without causing a ripple in the great pool of popular culture and sports history. I can report that the man who has taken the place of Hammerin' Hank is not even a slugger. He is a pitcher by the name of David Aardsma. He made is major league debut with the SF Giants last year. He pitched in eleven games, all of them in relief. Not only does he not have a home run, he hasn't yet been to bat. A couple of weeks ago he was traded from the Giants to the Cubs. He is young, not yet twenty four. Maybe he will pull a Babe Ruth and turn from pitching to slugging. Maybe he can earn the right to be first on the list and not just occupy it by right of birth. The only reason this is possible is that he is still in the league that shuns the designated hitter. In the National League pitchers are required to take their turns at bat. That is only proper and the way things should be. I hope Mr. Aardsma has a long and productive career. I hope when he hits his first home run they can get him together with Hank Aaron for a photo op.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Piqua, Kansas

Buster Keaton was born on October 4, 1895 in the town of Piqua (pronounced PI-Kway) Kansas. He never lived there. His parents were passing through town on a vaudeville tour.

The current population of Piqua is 390. It is in Woodson County, population 3788. There are no motels or hotels in Piqua. There is a Best Western and a Super 8 in Iola, eleven miles away, and a Super 8 in Chanute, fifteen miles away. There are no available jobs currently listed within five miles of Piqua, but in Iola they need a doctor. There are no historic markers in Piqua except a plaque identifying it as the birthplace of Buster. Iola and Chanute have no markers at all. There are two cemeteries in Piqua and 19 total in Woodson county. Piqua has four schools and no churches or parks. The average temperature in July 90.6 and 20.9 in January. The median home is 45 years old and valued at $75,000. twenty two percent of the adult residents have college degrees. The average age is 37, with 52% male, and 67% married.
There is a Buster Keaton museum. It occupies the front room of the Piqua Water Department. The room has a nice collection of newspaper clippings, family heirlooms, photos and posters. Each year there is a Buster Keaton Film Festival in nearby Iola. This year will be the thirteenth annual.

Nicodemus, Kansas is 247 miles from Piqua

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Limbo Lower Now!

President Vicente Fox has not formally apologized for saying that Mexican immigrants to the United States accept jobs that "not even blacks want to do", but has said he regrets that he offended anyone. Jesse Jackson called the remarks "a spurious comparison" with "ominous racial overtones." State Department spokesman Richard Boucher labeled Fox's comments "a very insensitive and inappropriate way to phrase this." Mr. Boucher could have been a little more clear in exactly what he meant.

Mr. Boucher's interesting phrasing "inappropriate way to phrase this" apparently means he doesn't consider the sentiment itself wrong, just poorly stated. After all, President Bush stated the exact sentiments himself in late January by saying "I do want to recognize a system (illegal immigration) where a willing worker and a willing employer are able to come together in a way that enables people to find work without jeopardizing a job that an American would otherwise want to do." There was no hue and cry when Mr. Bush made his statement. He repeated these remarks in his February 3 State of the Union Address " is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take," President Bush had already assured all Americans that Mexicans did not threaten their jobs. President Fox was just backing him up by assuring black Americans that Mexicans didn't want their jobs either.

The larger question here is, why were president Bush's remarks, doubly stated, allowed to stand with little comment, while President Fox's remarks are being regarded as an international incident?

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Day No One of Importance Died

A front page story from the May 16 NY Times tells the story of three individuals who had heart attacks and how their class standing in our so called classless society dictated the quality of care they received. Surprise surprise! The upper class guy (NY architect) got the best care. The lower class woman (NY maid) got the poorest care. The middle class guy (Con Ed wonk) got so-so care. Is this news? The fact that Dick Cheney is alive and my uncle Reino has been dead for thirty years is enough evidence for me that health care is better for the rich and powerful than for the working class and good.

If there had been no front page story about the three heart attack victims there would still have been evidence in the Times that this situation of health care inequality is in effect. According to the Times of May 16 no one of importance died! On the obituary page there was not a single obituary. How could this be with people from all walks of life dropping dead every day? Obviously death does take a holiday, at least for the people of merit as decided by the obituary editor of the NY Times.

If there is really anything of interest in the front page story about the heart attack victims and the lack of notable deaths on the obituary page, it is the question: Is there a trend here? Is the chasm between rich and poor regarding health care getting worse. Has it always been this way? Of course it is getting worse. Have we ever had a day when no one of importance died? I doubt it. I read the NY Times obituaries every day and have done so for years. I can not remember a day when no obituaries appeared. Could it be it will become a common occurrence? I doubt it. The Times will just have to lower its standards of what merits an obituary. Looking on the bright side there may be one benefit from the scandalous situation in American health care: People other than the rich and famous might someday get a nice obituary in the NY Times.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Who's Counting?

Tito Fuentes was a flashy second basemen for the SF Giants during the 1960's. That was the team of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Jim Ray Hart and other greats who managed to come in second from 1965 through 1969, usually losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tito was a hot dog. His fondness for twirling his bat, strutting between pitches, and generally acting like a vaudevillian following a child or dog act, infuriated pitchers who would react by occasionally missing with a pitch and knocking Tito on his butt. That sort of thing was usually reserved for sluggers. Tito was very careful about his wardrobe and very much resented being sent sprawling in the dirt, much of which would cling to his erstwhile spotless uniform, and being deprived of his dignity. Occasionally a pitcher would miss so badly that Tito would get drilled between the numbers. After one such event Tito said to a reporter "The pitchers shouldn't throw at me. I'm the father of four.........or five children." Numbers can be confusing and most people forgave Tito for not being exactly sure of the number of children he had.

In the early 1980's I ran into a bachelor friend who was wearing a long face. I asked him what was wrong. He said that he had to pay a big penalty to the IRS for falsely claiming he had three children dependents. I asked him why he hadn't told the IRS he had just written the number down wrong. He said they might have believed that, but giving the fictitious children names was where he had really screwed up.

A Republican county chairman in Seminole County, Florida claims a false report about him cost him the election to head the state Republican party. Jim Stelling is seeking unspecified damages from Nancy Goettman. She sent a letter to Republican party executives shortly before the election. In the letter she mentioned that Mr. Stelling had been married six times. He narrowly lost to the election to a woman who's number of marriages was not made an issue. In truth Mr. Stelling has only been married five times. It would be big of Mr. Stelling if he forgave Ms. Goettman. He should realize that with number of marriages, like children, anyone can make a mistake. At least Ms. Goettman didn't make the unforgivable mistake of listing the names of his ex-wives.