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Matchup/Game Thread at Phillies 12:35 CDT

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A few things are still sticking in my craw from yesterday's game, I guess because I had nothing to say about it yesterday.

I only saw Jason Lane's first two at-bats yesterday, but those two anyway have stuck with me. He was pulling off the ball continuously during both of them and it looked absolutely terrible. And don't let the homer fool you, either. I think it was Thom Brennaman that said Lane appeared to hit the homer one-handed, and while that's fine for yesterday, it doesn't say much for the rest of the season. Yes, the hits and the homers count either way, whether they came after good at-bats or after piss-poor ones. What the three-run homer shows is that he was both strong AND lucky. He'll continue to be strong. But it's a poor idea to count on luck.

Point blank: Jason Lane will not hit any higher than the .201 he hit last year, if he continues to bail during his AB's the way he did yesterday.

And Ensberg. I'm glad he went 3 for 4, actually I'm ecstatic, but what was the deal on the Lane's double play fly ball? You look pretty cool in them shades, big Mo, but are they giving you a problem in seeing the game action? You took off on a lazy fly ball, dude.

Pay attention.

And Woody. I know I have to keep my expectations in line with reality, but I was really hoping a wily veteran, or whatever it is they call him, would take the three-run lead Lane's shot gave him and run with it, at least through five. Instead, the lead lasted for all of two outs in the bottom of the fourth. It's been suggested here (was it clack?) that Woody is going to be a one-up, one-down kind of pitcher, and so far he's been literally that: a good start followed by an off one, followed by a good one, etc.

So, checking our schedule, if I've got things right, we're looking for a start representative of a number three starter on the 19th at Cincinnati, and then another tank job on the 25th at Pittsburgh.

It'll take some getting used to is all.

Lastly. I'm willing to give Trever Miller a little more slack, because after all it's only 2-2/3 innings, but lefties--the guys he is paid to get--are OPSing 1.714 against him so far. And after an awesome spring, too.

*    *   
So, if you've been without radio, television, and internet for the last ten days, and hadn't heard, the entire team will be wearing jersey number 42 today.

And without disrespecting the memory of a man who basically martyred himself for the good of the game, can I say that that it's all become just a little vacuous?

Supposedly it was Ken Griffey Jr. who had gone to Bud Selig and asked for the dispensation to wear Jackie Robinson's retired # 42 today, on the 60th anniversary of Robinson's having broken the color line in major league baseball. Some have said that even that was grandstanding on Griffey's part, but I myself am willing to grant him the benefit of the doubt and the purity of motive.

But then Griffey's gesture expanded so that one player on every team was going to wear the number. And that still sounded like a good idea, at least in principle. I have to say I'm unclear exactly what the relationship is between Robinson and Carlos Lee, who would have been our one guy, or even between Robinson and Houston, a city which didn't even have a major league franchise until six years after Robinson retired, however.

Then the Dodgers and the Pirates announced that every one of their players would be wearing # 42, and it is at this point that what might have been a touching tribute became the tacky display it had been threatening to morph into all along.

Nothing against any current Pirates or Dodgers or Astros, but it became a kind of pious bandwagon-jumping. Everyone afraid of being left behind in their silly proclamations that yes, racism is bad.

Let it be said that behavior such as this is not confined to merely baseball. It's a charade performed throughout all parts of our society. Rather than solemnly contemplating how our very real history of racism might still be distorting the the things we do today, we instead get on our pedestal and proclaim loudly the superiority of today's purportedly color-blind culture while demonizing "the bad old days."

Instead of trying to weed the roots of racism from our society, we are content with the politically-correct, nay, politically-required, vapid shouts of "I hate racism, too!"

Like we said back in the schoolyard, no shit, Sherlock. What else ya got?

In 1947, when Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Dodgers, if you had gone up to the average man on the street in the city of Houston, and asked who the greatest player to have ever put on a baseball uniform in the city of Houston was, you would have almost assuredly gotten the answer of Dizzy Dean. Looking back now, we can say that Dean was a fantastic pitcher, a legendary showman, a humorist of some repute--and a cheerful, good-natured racist. Accounts these days tend not to fault Ol' Diz for this, however, citing his upbringing and background.

The lesson learned when examining Dean is that it's not always easy to understand how the components of racism come together, admirable traits and reprehensible ones mixed together sometimes so that they're indistinguishable. It's not easy to understand in a person sometimes, and it's never easy to understand in a society.

But the biggest mistake we can make is to kid ourselves we've got the problem licked.

I know that Carlos Lee (and Craig Biggio and Luke Scott, and everyone else throughout major league baseball today) is well-intentioned, but the whole thing just seems mis-targeted.

It's a lot easier to sell a Jackie Robinson Day 60th Anniversary T-Shirt if events today become some kind of a merry celebration. But to truly tackle the legacy of racism in our game and in our country, and to truly honor the memory of a man who consciously and knowingly sacrificed his life towards the establishment of a better society, the mood should be a whole lot more somber.