Tagged: Musings


I witnessed the Magna Carta this morning, alongside the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Emancipation Proclamation, and Virginia Declaration of Rights, a precursor to the United States Bill of Rights. Lying there beneath their carefully guarded glass cases, they look innocuous enough. Yet it strikes you that these documents brought to heel monarchs, set off revolutions, and freed men. These are words that changed history.

The overwhelming impression left by the exhibit it that the pen truly is mightier than the sword.

Today words are not scrawls of ink on vellum, but bits and bytes on a magnetic disk and pixels on an electric display. They will never look aged in the same way the Magna Carta, an 800 year old document, does. Yet the awful power of words is undiminished; for ultimately words are written not on paper or chip, but on the human heart.

What a marvelous obsession we bloggers have!

Magna Carta & Four Foundations of Freedom is on exhibit at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia through June 18th.

The Spirit of Boston

The very spirit of blogging is the ability to express oneself.  The beauty of blogging is the freedom to do so.  Take away either of these, and what remains is no longer blogging.  With censorship, there can be no blogging.  What remains is propaganda, with the would be blogger serving as the patsy providing content for the propagandist.

Freedom of speech is the very essence of blogging.  Thus blogging is as American as, well, baseball.  Others may find what we say offensive, but that is the price of freedom.  Without that liberty we are no better than our enemies.  Those who would deprive us of our right to speak freely are our enemies.  They certainly are no friend of bloggers, for bloggers expose tyranny and corruption.  Bloggers continue the spirit of Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine and the American pamphleteers. 

Welcome to Boston, circa 1775.

C’est La Vie

Like most avid bloggers I have a utility which reports the activity on my blog.  It is almost a voyeuristic thrill watching visitors navigate through my back pages.  The level of detail is really quite amazing.  I can usually ascertain where a visitor is from, their city, even their IP address.  I can tell which pages they visited, and how long.  I often even know how they arrived at the site, the referring URL or search criteria they entered into a search engine such as Google.  I get hits on all kinds of things, some of which are relevant, many of which are not.  For example, I have been getting hits by someone who is searching using my granddaughter’s name, which is quite unique and even I have trouble spelling.

Speaking of trouble, occasionally I get someone looking for it, be it a hacker or someone out of my past, someone who just can’t seem to let go.  It is really rather sad.  I came here to have fun.

Such is the world.  C’est la vie.

Happy Saint Paddy’s

Dia Duit. Hope you are enjoying your St. Patrick’s Day. I’m blessed to be Irish, although I don’t look it. The quarter Injun got the better of the half Irish in that respect. My son looks more Irish than I do, despite the fact that I’m more Irish: my father was the son of Irish immigrants and had that wonderful Gaelic accent. My grandson looks very Irish, like a little leprechaun, as a matter of fact, which is inexplicable considering he is less Irish than either his father or his father, and Devon, with his good Irish name, is half Indian (the real kind, from India). My granddaughter, Caerdwean-does it get anymore Irish?-has the dark hair and olive skin. Quare.

Methinks I’ll jar meself some green beoier…

Slán go fóill.

— Michael Norton

Primitive Interpretations

One of the primitive interpretations of sports, or life in general, for that matter, is as a form of morality play. When bad things happen, it must be a form of divine justice; bad karma, if you will. Contests-even if they are forms of entertainment–become evidence of approval of the gods.

Nowhere is this more evident in baseball than in Boston, which perceives New York not just as a rival, but as “evil”. This is natural, I suppose, since Red Sox fans proudly proclaim that in Boston baseball is a religion. Of course in Boston everything is a religion. Education. Liberal politics. Even patriotism was a religion in New England, at least in the eighteenth century. That turned out alright, I suppose, although the Salem Witch Trials got a bit ugly. That happens when religion becomes a religion.

We are talking about Massachusetts Bay, after all, where the Puritans escaped when their endless preaching made them insufferable in England. The Boston team itself was variously dubbed the “Puritans”, “Plymouth Rocks” or “Pilgrims”. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that some Bostonians consider themselves the true high priests of baseball (and everything else, for that matter) bearing a responsibility to enlighten the rest of us before we reap the awful wrath of the Almighty. As Daniel Boorstin in The Americans: The Colonial Experience observes:

The New England meeting-house, like the synagogue on which it was modeled, was primarily a place of instruction. Here men found their separate paths to conversion, so they could better build their Zion in the wilderness, a City upon a Hill to which other men might in their turn look for instruction.

Of course winning a World Series once in a lifetime would hardly seem to qualify one for baseball almightiness; quite the opposite. But then that is, as I have noted, a rather primitive interpretation.

— Michael Norton

Same Old Song and Dance

Like most celebrities these days, I’ve been doing rehab. Entertainers go to drug and alcohol rehab; software developers go to cardiac rehab. It wasn’t too bad until last week, when I suddenly experienced some chest pains. I must confess I was somewhat disconcerted the therapists didn’t seem real sure what to do. Initially I was instructed to continue exercising, just less strenuously. Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and I ended up in the cardiologist’s office taking a stress test, exercising real strenuously. While contemplating whether my heart was going to explode I was pleased to note the presence of an industrial strength defibrillator in very close proximity. Guess they’ve done this before. If you’re going to go into cardiac arrest, best do it in the cardiologist’s office.

The bad news is there is still something wrong. You’d think with five bypasses that wouldn’t be possible. If that kills you, now imagine the suspect artery is the one with two bypasses. Oh well, at least it gets me out of rehab.

It dawned on me that most of the people in rehab (actually everyone but me) have never exercised a day in their life. That shouldn’t be so surprising, I suppose, considering everyone there has some serious cardiac issues. Still, I found it rather an odd sensation, like encountering an aborigine mystified by modern technology. Exercise physiology is a science, you know. You might be amazed that some people do not understand that. If you don’t, I might see you soon.

One thing that I find somewhat ironic is they won’t give me any steroids to regain my strength (you can’t imagine how much damage splitting open ones chest does to the muscular system). If steroids were that effective, you would think they would be standard protocol. Why is it you can never use drugs when you need them? Take a hit and ponder why medicinal cannabis is an issue at all. Does someone fear steroids are Performance Enhancing Drugs for rehab patients?

Ah well, so much for celebrity. No charities contacted me to be their poster boy. My public didn’t wring their hands and moan and wonder about the meaning of it all, at least not, well, publicly. No one peddled shirts in my name, thank God. Lord pity that poor soul, Anna Nicole Smith. What a blessing it is to face life and death with dignity.

So what does any of this have to do with baseball? Maybe nothing, but I wonder how much of what we worship as “baseball” is really just another cult of celebrity. Is there anything of significance beyond The Show?

Is there any baseball?

Matters of the Heart

Well I’ve returned to the land of the living, apparently. I thought Groundhog Day would be a particularly appropriate day to resurface, but I missed my shadow so I had to wait until pitchers and catchers (and I suspect a lot of MLBloggers) report to emerge from hibernation.

Thanks to all the well wishers, especially Matt over at Diamondhacks, who was kind enough to query as to my well being. I’m recovering quite well, I think, considering I just had a quintuple bypass. My doctor thinks I don’t quite appreciate the seriousness of the surgery, but I’ve seen open heart surgery move from the miraculous to the everyday in my lifetime. It is sad to think that if such miracles had been so readily available in my youth, my father would possibly be alive today. Heart disease is not an easy thing to live with. I’ve thought many times since the diagnosis how he must have felt, knowing the anxiety and sense of helplessness, especially in his time. But then, maybe he came to the same liberating conclusion I have, that we’re all mortal and, whatever we are given, it is enough.

My father passed on to me a love for baseball, a love which hasn’t always been requited. Baseball can break your heart. The night my father passed away I was angry with him for determining a catcher’s mitt was something of an extravagance for a seven year old. Of course it must be questioned why a seven year old was even trying on catcher’s mitts. I was, perhaps, more interested in painting and piano. Or maybe it was just a dream. His dream. There is something about baseball that forms bonds across generations.

That was, after all, forty years ago. And here we go again, baseball emerging from the dark of winter. There is a day every February when I look out the window and think: baseball. Today was that day for 2007. Here’s to hoping baseball doesn’t break my heart this year. There is reason for hope, for I’ve relearned the lesson that whatever is given, it is enough.

— Michael Norton

Thanksgiving Turkey

As children we were taught that at the first Thanksgiving, the first Americans, the Pilgrims, sat down in peace with the real first Americans, the Indians, broke bread and gave thanks.

None of that was true, of course.The Indians weren’t from India, the Pilgrims were not even the first Englishmen in America, much less the first Americans, a distinction owed to the Indians, er, Native Americans. Nor was it the first fall feast. A feast celebrating the end of harvest time seems rather natural, and, in fact, has been widely celebrated across cultures for as long as men have been reaping the soil.

The origins of baseball have been similarly miscast. Of course everybody knows Alexander Doubleday didn’t do it. Neither did Cartwright. Something resembling baseball has probably been around since the Stone Age. Fending off rocks with a stick was a martial art for primitive man. Throwing up objects and hitting them with sticks seems almost instinctual in boys. I’ve observed that even the smallest of children grasp the sport in running to a place where they are safe. Baseball, like Thanksgiving, springs not from American soil, but from man’s inner most being. Thank God for baseball.

And thank God my son returned home safe and sound from his tour of duty this week. Made for a truly wonderful holiday.

Welcome to the 2007 Baseball Season!

Welcome to the 2007 Baseball Season! We are all undefeated. We are all equal. Finish two games above .500, and it is possible you, too, can be celebrating like it is 1982 this time next year. Every fan has every reason to hope, every reason to believe.

Seven different champions in seven consecutive years. Major League Baseball, to its credit, has managed to achieve parity without, as is the case in the NFL, mediocrity. There are some great teams out there, dominant ones, even. But there isn’t a team out there that can truthfully say they haven’t got a snowball’s chance in Hades of hoisting that crown next year.

Fire up the Hot Stove!

— Michael Norton

Little Big Man

I’ve followed the career of David Eckstein for a number of years now. One reason is my son is about the same stature, in every sense of the word. He wasn’t given much of an opportunity to play sports because of his size, and as a parent it was painful to watch. He is now a triathlete. I pointed out Eckstein to him as a role model, something fathers usually don’t do to their adult sons. That speaks volumes for Eckstein, as does the fact he has had to scrap for everything he has achieved.

It’s not the size of the dog in the scrap that matters, it is size of the scrap in the dog. That scrappiness undid the Tigers, as his MVP trophy attests. Notice it wasn’t some beefed up basher who won the MVP; instead it was the little man who came up big. Maybe this is a fitting end to the steroid era. Maybe the contracts will start going to baseball players, not circus freaks. It was interesting to note that Eckstein, who is probably vastly underpaid, admitted he has never bought a new car.

He’s now driving the Corvette. Good for him. Good to see.