Editing Spout Off for many moons gives a body plenty of experience to pen fanciful ruminations. Who cares if they’re true? Never let truth get in the way of gossip, or at least some hair-brain concoction.
Consider those who advance the cause of the Philadelphia Phillies by buying tickets in the ballpark. They were agog and aghast July 26 having learned their favored team had enlisted the pitching arm of a chap named Cole Hamels for, to quote from a team release, “A six-year, $144-million contract extension, ending speculation he could be traded before Tuesday's Trade Deadline while adding another enormous contract to the organization's payroll.”
I caught a fleeting glimpse of the happy Hamels family on TV, beaming from ear to ear, as would anyone with that immense fortune staring them in the face. Or is such enormous wealth becoming a curse in these wealth-endangered days?
Elsewhere in the next morning’s newspaper I read the blow-by-blow description of how the House and Senate are (what else is new?) deadlocked over a tax package that would target those evil enough to earn over $200,000 annually.
Indeed, the shrinking middle class is endangered like the red knot and tiger’s habitat.
Thus, on one hand, the Phanatic is ebullient over the signing a deal for $144 million, (try to imagine how much that money is, what it would look like if you stacked it up, what good things could be done with it). On the other hand we see calculated wage warfare being slugged out between Ds and Rs in the hallowed halls (or more correctly the big boys’ sandbox) of Congress.
Whether or not the reader chooses to believe what’s unfolding almost daily, those with money are not so subtlety being targeted as villains of society. Were it not for that well-heeled class, all would be well, we are being force fed to believe. We would not, as was when many were kiddies, realize just how poor we are, because we’d all be poor together. We’ll smile at poverty and frown at wealth, damn them!
Once we are collectively reduced to a common state of national poverty, we will be indebted to those in government for just about everything from the first diaper to the last shovel of earth that will hide our mortal remains. Who wants that? Not me.
Continuing the dream state, imagine waking up some morning to headlines that scream: “Middle School District Signs Math Teacher to Six-year, $144M Contract.”
If that doesn’t get you rolling, how about, “Cape Regional Medical Center Signs Surgeon to Six-year, $144M Contract?”
Then, as we flip to the Sports page, before our very eyes in black and white, “Eagles Sign QB to $500 @ Game Deal.” “Flyers Goalie Pens $125 a Night Pact.”
Is that what it would take to shake us from our dream-world? Maybe, just maybe, such headlines would convince young students that academics are not simply a bother between breakfast and dinner, but a way to become a success, and to help people around them.
There is nothing wrong with sports, but they are misplaced in the nation’s priorities. It’s almost like a Roman circus to distract minds of the masses from the daily misery. Give ‘em parades and circues and sports, and they’ll not worry about the tax rate that is robbing them blind or debts they will never repay.
Could that be what all this fuss is about? After all, the rich are the enemy, aren’t they? They are the “1 percenters” who live a life most can only dream of having. Wait, isn’t that the American dream? Work hard, study, excel and become successful. Enjoy the fruits of your labors. No more. Wealth is bad, poverty is good. The government will provide what is needed, just give it a vote of confidence.
Since many can never have such a dream-like lifestyle, they become jealous. They decide to “put down” those who attain the higher goal and more income.
When my hair was darker and there was no hesitation arising in the morning, I had the good fortune to meet an Ocean View icon “Cubby” Canuso. The quaint Exxon gas station and store he kept clean as a whistle at Route 9 and Sea Isle City Boulevard has long since been replaced with a filling station. Still, each time I stop at the traffic light there, I can see Cubby with his broom, sweeping away what must have been imaginary dirt, just to keep busy.
He’d break into a broad smile and say, “Lemme tell ya the one about…” Cubby loved baseball, almost more than that beloved gas station. There was a diamond in the field behind the station where, I was told, Sunday afternoons came alive with baseball. No, not Cole Hamels-style baseball for a zillions dollars over six years, just plain old hometown baseball for the love of the game.
Cubby would go on about the sports prowess of some long-dead local great who could pitch like lightning or a slugger who could whack the ball a country mile.
It was an encouraging bit a of Americana Cubby evoked. I could envision a lineup of dusty, old Chevy and Ford pickup trucks that “sortta ran,” Maybe there would be kids sitting on the grass around the sacred playing field watching their dad or uncles play a game that captivated everyone within earshot, at least for the afternoon.
Even now, such games still capture my eye. The grandchildren played Little League ball the last few years, Through the chill of spring and bite of gnats, once again I saw a cherished game played simply for the love of the sport. There was hope in the eyes of each batter every time they stepped up to bat. This would be when they whacked it out of the park, they hoped.
Sometimes they gave a whack at the ball that sent it almost to second base. But they HIT the ball, and that was a miracle. There was a scramble of action as juvenile players tried to get the ball. Coaches watched, then offered advice as to how to do better next time.
Should any of this resonate with you my heart will be warmed. If not it was merely fanciful rumination.