Sunday, February 15, 2004

There is less joy in Mudville. Some counterintuitive first thoughts on the Yankees' acquisition of Alex Rodriguez following the Red Sox' long, protracted efforts:

1. Remember, this wasn't about upgrading the team at shortstop. It was about getting rid of Manny Ramírez. Manny's still here, but guess what? He's still going to hit a ton. Rodriguez may be a better player than Nomar Garciaparra, but they're both going to the Hall of Fame. Ask yourself this: did you really want to see Nomar leave town?

2. Psychologically, this is good for the Sox. They've been the favorites all winter. Who needs that pressure? The Yankees are better today than they were yesterday, but not by so much that they look unbeatable. And now the focus is going to be on George Steinbrenner and his $200 million payroll.

3. Major League Baseball's sickness may be reaching its terminal phase. Two weeks ago, we all got to see a professional sports league that does it right (except for contracting out its halftime show). It's depressing to see how owner selfishness has ruined baseball. Does any team even matter other than the Yankees and the Red Sox? Every true fan - except those of us in Boston and New York - will be rooting against both teams.

Sex, context, and hypocrisy. Mickey Kaus has posted what, at first glance, appears to be a striking bit of hypocrisy on the part of Joe Conason. Conason - who is properly outraged at Matt Drudge's pathetic attempts to hang an apparently non-existent sex scandal on John Kerry - turns out to have been very interested in George H.W. Bush's sex life 12 years ago.

Context, please? I don't have Conason's 1992 Spy article in front of me, but I can guess. In 1992, the Republicans - then as ever - were obsessed with Bill Clinton's sex life, as though Republicans never carried on any extramarital affairs. As I recall, a lot of liberals were appalled at the single-minded focus on Clinton.

Allegations that Poppy Bush might have had an affair were irrelevant. The possibility that the media - spurred on by the Republican Attack Machine - were focusing entirely on the alleged dalliances of the Democratic candidate while ignoring evidence about the Republican candidate was important and worth looking into.

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