Readers on the Baseball Issue?ro;”Sorta; Smoky Strausbaugh; Kelley's Black Politics; and MUGGER

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:57

    ONT FACE="New York" SIZE=5> Taki: Just to say "thanks" for sharing the wonderful memory of Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin and Linda Christian ("Top Drawer," 7/19). Growing up on the farm in Oklahoma, we loved the Yankees and idolized our native son "The Mick." The scrappy Billy Martin was a big favorite. Thinking of you at the Little Club with the beautiful Linda Christian, then dinner at El Morocco with the legends, leaves me envious of those glorious days that truly belonged to the "Golden Boys of Summer." Thanks to MUGGER and the staff of New York Press for a wonderful baseball issue, in particular to Taki, for the diversion from politics and the latest scourge on New Yorkers and the nation: the arrogant lowlife known as Hillary Clinton.

    Vernon Diuhel, Manhattan

    Ornithologically Correct

    Christopher Caldwell ("Hill of Beans," 7/19) forgot perhaps the most evocative words in baseball: "chin music." (And as for "little looper," I'm willing to suggest that "dying quail" is a better description of same.)

    Harley Peyton, Santa Monica

    God, Tom, That's Horrible

    MUGGER: Great 7/19 column. Your description of losing the little league championship was especially poignant.

    I balked in the winning run of my championship at 12 years old. I didn't know what a balk was?tough way to find out. I don't talk about it much.


    Thomas Paynter, Las Vegas

    Lord of the Car Wash

    MUGGER: Who gives a fuck about baseball, or your fucking childhood for that matter, you rich prick. (Fucking rich prick.) Stop writing about your Little Lord Fauntleroy childhood, and your kids, for that matter, and give me some of that political commentary of yours that I deeply enjoy.

    Name Withheld, Cedar Rapids, IA

    Universal History

    Your 7/19 "Baseball Issue" made me think way back to the 1940s, when I lived in Brooklyn. My father was a lifelong Dodger fan, my brother was a Giants fan and I was a Yankees fan. (My dad would look at me as I lauded the Yankees and wonder where he went wrong raising his son.)

    Our very patient mother would sit through each dinner listening to our banter. We'd argue about who was best?Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. I read the Daily News only when the Yankees won.

    The look on my dad's face when his beloved Dodgers beat the Yankees in the World Series and the endless bragging of my brother when Bobby Thompson hit his famous home run are most memorable to this day.

    I also remember the tears in my dad's eyes as the Dodgers moved to L.A., followed by my brother's dread over the Giants moving to San Francisco.

    I realize that each generation of baseball fans thinks their heroes were the best, but I miss Willie, Mickey, Joe D. and Ted Williams. I remember the thrill of buying my first tv set just in time to watch a "do or die" playoff between the Yankees and the Red Sox. With the Yanks winning, I felt that the hard-earned money I'd spent to watch the 9-inch screen was worth every penny and more.

    Just a few thoughts as I enter my 70th year and fondly look back to "those days."

    Kenneth Wyman, Huntsville, AL

    Yo La Tengo

    MUGGER: Your comment on a 2008 baseball game in Havana caught my attention. I have been telling people for a while that the way to get rid of Castro is offer the Cubans a choice. Get rid of Castro and you get a Major League Baseball franchise. I bet he would be gone so fast he would not even have time to pack. Anyway it would be great.

    Name Withheld, Key Largo, FL

    Sure. When It Rains Guinness

    John Strausbaugh really is a pisser. As a baseball "fan" I must say his "Take Me Out to the Racetrack" (7/19) was pretty close to the mark and hilarious to boot. Horse racing is a phenomenal sport and his dark, bitter commentary on our national pastime cuts close and deep. The reality is that baseball, as other sporting events that are offered publicly, is an escape from our hectic, often miserable lives. That's why in order to truly enjoy the beauty of the sport it is much smarter to go to a Little League game. Maybe someone should drag his ass to the next Downtown Little League game and let him cheer for those miniature MUGGERs.

    Name Withheld, Brooklyn

    Our City Kicks Their City's Ass

    The stories in your baseball edition were entertaining, especially "Take Me Out to the Racetrack." Too bad too many dads neglect this rite of passage. Maybe it's because the generation before started the trend. I went to celebrate my 49th birthday recently at Belmont and, to my disappointment, the few railbirds that were there were over 60, and you could have personally met everyone under 40.

    My only beef with the baseball edition was that there was way too much crap on the Bosox. Those writers should be put on waivers. After all, this is New York and we have two fine teams to write about. Screw all that Boston bullswipe and tone down that Baltimore longing. You're writing in the greatest city in the world?do you think any New Yorker really cares about these little turd burgs?

    Buck Ziemelis, Hoboken

    Spunky Pam

    I can't tell you how much I loved George Tabb's baseball story in last week's New York Press. So I won't. Instead, I'd like to tell George to get off his lazy punk-rock ass and write a book instead of wasting his time with his untalented punk-rock band Furious George. Your writer has a future, even if he's too stupid to see it.

    Pam Katz, Manhattan

    But He's Talking About Shaft

    I read the Armond White review of Shaft ("Film," 7/12) and I take exception to his portrayal of Samuel L. Jackson as some kind of symbolic African-American bogeyman that we Caucasian types only like because he justifies our own fear of black men by acting savagely in his movies. I have been a fan of Jackson since Pulp Fiction, and what impressed me about him in that film was his casually masculine ability to be both tender and dangerous. His was the only character in that entire film to achieve a sort of epiphany that spurred a spiritual rebirth, and the way he forbore the idiotic Ringo and Honey Bunny (the two would-be restaurant hold-up robbers) was played brilliantly. You could see his restraint of his power to kill in every frame of that scene, as he kindly and patiently preached salvation to them when the day before he would have killed them without hesitation.

    This is the same actor who Armond White claims is depicted as a modern savage? I'm not as frightened as I am impressed by Jackson's adult humanity. He is large and in charge, much like Denzel. The two of them together in a movie would be a treat!

    Alison deNu, Sunnyvale, CA

    Kelley Hero

    Norman Kelley: Good essay ("Opinion," 7/19). You hit the nail on the head. The NAACP dodges issues such as black crime and corruption; yet they take on issues such as the Confederate flag, or a misguided lawsuit against Cracker Barrel, using money that could be going into the inner cities.

    At least people like you are smart enough to realize this.

    Scott Turgeon, Manhattan

    Nailed to La Crosse

    Just because one person has bad ideas, it doesn't automatically follow that someone criticizing that person has good ones. Bill Clinton is an execrable person, but Norman Kelley is a dope. He doesn't have the slightest idea what is good for blacks or other Americans, any more than Clinton does.

    John Butala, La Crosse, WI

    Weed Patch

    Why did John Strausbaugh suddenly decide to sign his name to that 7/19 tobacco editorial when he wouldn't put his name on other editorials he's written? I think his argument seems pretty reasonable, but there's probably more to the story than his simplistic take, just as there was in the case of the woman who sued McDonald's after spilling hot coffee on herself. (Yes, the person was a clumsy oaf, but the coffee was 170 degrees! That's dangerous in so many ways, and the jury justifiably agreed that McDonald's deserved some of the responsibility for the severity of the burns.)

    I don't know the details of the tobacco suit, but it's probable that many of the claimants started smoking many decades ago, when the tobacco companies were lying to Congress and the public about the depth of the deadliness of their product. And even now, smokes don't have a list of ingredients on the side, as they should. (Cigarettes must have, like, more than 100 toxins! Shouldn't they have to list, say, ammonia [!] as an ingredient on the box?)

    Certainly, smokers are idiots who only have themselves to blame, and tort reform would probably be a good thing, but again, the tobacco companies were not honest about the dangers of their product, and to this day they continue to try to deceive the customer. They dug their own graves and now they should lie in them (pun intended).

    By the way, I think you guys took a shot at me in "The Mail" a while back, writing that I'm out here (?) whilst you're in there (?), which I took to mean you're successful writers and I'm not, so "nyah, nyah, nyah." Does that mean, then, that Tina Brown is superior to you because she's more successful than you guys? You fellows need to grow up.

    James Carpio, Manhattan

    The editors reply: We started bylining editorials a few weeks ago, because more than one editor writes them. We didn't "take a shot" at Carpio; we merely replied ("The Mail," 6/21) to a snotty, specious letter that he sent to us.

    And no, it doesn't mean that Tina Brown is superior to us. Carpio's making an apples and oranges comparison. Brown is a successful (though apparently less so now than she used to be) entrepreneurial mover and shaker in the world of glossy magazines; which is to say that she's a saleswoman, a publicist, a numbers-cruncher, a shmoozer, a power-luncher, a celebrity hagiographer, a political operator, a networker, etc. She's not a writer.

    We're a community of writers.


    So Alan Cabal likes to hang around in Snake Country, huh ("Run with the Devil," 7/12)? Why don't you send that son of a bitch down to Los Angeles for the Democratic National Convention, then? Spring the coin, shoot him full of speed and send him on his way! You know, like they used to do back in the early 70s, with that other nut whose name I can't remember. Just remember to put Cabal on a train. We do not need another airplane falling out of the sky.

    Tell that black bastard to e-mail me!

    Eric Harris, Oakland, CA

    Alan Cabal replies: I'm what you'd call "white," although lately it's more of an heroic Italian fascist bronze color. I work out a lot.

    I hate snakes and fully intend to be there in L.A. when the Democrats rip themselves to shreds in a hideous reversal of the 1968 Chicago convention, which every sentient being on this planet knows is inevitable. Southern Literary Review

    I have told you before, and I guess you will think me simple, in that I say it once again: The quality of New York Press' writing and subject matter takes me places I have never been or would likely go.

    Taki tells me of life better lived, and MUGGER muddles through, most times through puddles of his own design. Other writers, most well-accomplished in their craft, fill in the edges and add additional depth. Some, of course, tend to drown in their own excesses (guess it would have been best to change metaphor). At any rate, as we say down here in the "flagless land" among the swamp creatures, "where's my New York Press"?

    A.H. Watson, Holder Beach, NC

    Can You Fax It to Us?

    Hell yes! Thanks to Mike McGonigal for recognizing the best film never made, Love in Vain, in his revealing 7/12 interview with the brilliant screenwriter Alan Greenberg.

    About six years ago in a tiny, dingy Minneapolis used bookstore, I dropped to my knees to rescue a discarded copy of this screenplay from a suffocating pile of lesser books. "Love in Vain" being one of my fave Robert Johnson songs, this book's title led me to think that it might finally capture the many-splendored Johnson. I'm not your typical bookstore lounger?I usually run in and out?but that day I sat on that nasty floor for what seemed like hours, mesmerized by the imagery used to describe Johnson's world. Then I thankfully paid the rusty old cashier and carried it home for repeated reads. Best quarter I ever spent.

    After an unsuccessful search for the film, I learned how stupid the industry is. Morons. How could this film remain unmade?

    When I later began to work for a literary agent, I really learned how difficult it is to get the good stuff in print, much less onscreen. The entertainment industry folks of recent decades are overpaid trash collectors?and have mastered the art of making big bucks for little effort. Great for them, sucks for us and the legacy of our generation.

    Whoever it is who someday makes this film?and someone better?should feel honored to do so. Meanwhile, buy the screenplay if you can find it.

    Libby Stephens, Hoboken

    Soup Bones

    John Strausbaugh's was my favorite of the baseball essays because it evoked for me Memorial Stadium in Baltimore ("Take Me Out to the Racetrack," 7/19). (He sure makes horse racing sound good, too.) The stadium was in the city, and sometimes when out-of-town friends came to visit we would take in a game.

    Summers in Baltimore are really hot, and the air in the evening is palpably humid. We would go to the ballpark not because we cared about what the Orioles were doing, but because it provided a certain kind of relaxed atmosphere.

    It was a social occasion. It would never occur to me to go by myself. It was cheap, it was fun and by the third or fourth inning you'd say, By the way, who's playing? You might even see so-and-so, that player you had heard about. I don't remember a single moment of the games. All I remember is that we sat in the bleachers and yakked and told stories all night. Occasionally we even watched the game.

    By that time I had already lost interest in Major League baseball and preferred playing the game. When I was a kid I used to read about guys like Ty Cobb and Satchel Paige, or the great Yankee teams. Much more exciting than the active players at the time. The Major Leagues kept getting worse, and I outgrew it.

    Nowadays you have, what, 30 teams in each league? What the hell is that? What is this designated hitter crap? Today the majors are filled with teams you never heard of, with really stupid, untraditional names, and revolving doors of lousy players, too many to keep track of even if you had a mind to. I can't relate to it. I long for the good old slave days of the reserve clause.

    It must have been wonderful back in the days when Brooklyn still had the Dodgers. But forget it, boy, them days are gone. Life in New York has been ruined a dozen times over since then, and usually by the liberals. I didn't even know you can't smoke at the ballpark anymore, which is of course utterly absurd. I have half a mind to take up smoking myself, though I've never been able to tolerate cigarette smoke.

    Baseball was once the national pastime and used to matter in American life, but it died around 1970. Today you can still see its corpse paraded around on tv. My ears perk up whenever I hear the old Negro Leagues mentioned, or crazy Ty Cobb or any of the other great old-timers from before around 1960. I'd love to see films of Satchel Paige or Josh Gibson. But I certainly wouldn't pony up $20 to get in to see a bunch of overpaid, second-string bums like you have today.

    Joe Rodrigue, New Haven

    Dick. Dick Cohen. Dick. Dick. Dick.

    MUGGER: If Richard Cohen keeps writing columns like the one that was just on the MSNBC website, "The Mystery that is Hillary," we may have to take him off the "gone to seed" list. Also, I agree with the writers last week that your use of the f-word has become down right gratuitous ("The Mail," 7/19). You don't need it. Was it Bill Cosby who asked, "Can't anybody be funny without using the f-word continuously anymore?" In the same vein, you are certainly a good enough writer to make your point without it.

    Steve Hume, Canton, MI

    Royal Flush

    MUGGER: I enjoyed reading your comments on baseball in the 7/19 New York Press.

    Toward the end of the piece, you discuss a Kansas Citian in The New York Times, bewailing the changing economics of baseball. You essentially dismiss this as whining, noting two things: first, that so-called small-market teams such as the Twins and Indians have had good recent runs; second, that since teams like the Yankees used to dominate completely in the 50s, baseball fans should get used to it, one-team-dominance being the norm rather than the exception.

    My comment is this: dominance of a particular professional sport by one or even a few teams seems to me to dim, rather than increase, fans' enthusiasm for the sport of choice. Perhaps in years past (when, as you note earlier in your piece, there were fewer teams) there was more tolerance for dynasties such as the Yankees. This may have to do with the fact that baseball then was almost the only show in town. Did as many people really care about the NBA or NFL or NHL back then as now? Of course not. But with increased competition from a host of other entertainment activities, baseball's cachet has diminished, and the sport actually needs to work to increase fans. Baseball's long-term interests might be best served by at least holding out the possibility that a smaller team might have a shot at winning it all. Exceptional small-market teams to the contrary, many of the smaller teams (such as the Royals) have slid into mediocrity.

    Even people as gullible as Kansas Citians can only suffer through so many youth movements and management shakeups before they seek to spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere. Losing is boring (if not worse), no matter how intrinsically interesting the game itself may be. Perhaps dominance by a few teams will be good for the game in the long run; but when it comes to getting new or young fans of different franchises into the game, dominance by a few doesn't strike me as a method calculated to increase fans of the game.

    A non-baseball note: I greatly enjoy your columns, and find your political writing refreshing.

    David O'Connor, Kansas City

    Seen the Senators Lately?

    MUGGER: Congratulations on a very nice 7/19 column. While I grew up on the Red Sox, too?and they're still the only team I'll watch willingly?I seem to be just a bit older than you, so the names don't mean quite the same thing. And because I'm living outside the U.S. more than in, I have a very hard time keeping track of who/where the teams are. Forget the players.

    Thanks for an always great column.

    John Burgess, Washington, DC

    Actually, Just '91

    MUGGER: You mentioned Dwight Evans as one of the ballplayers spending their entire careers in one town. Unfortunately, you may have forgotten that after he left the Red Sox he spent I believe two years ('91-'92?) with the Baltimore Orioles before retiring.

    I used to be a big baseball fan, attending approximately 20-25 games per year in whatever city I lived in at the time. I read all the box scores. Knew just about every player. Watched the standings daily. When I traveled it was a must to go to the ballpark?St. Louis, Chicago, Texas, Philadelphia, etc. When I lived in Houston in 1985 my goal was to see every National League team, a goal I easily achieved. I loved the game.

    However somewhere along the line I lost interest in baseball, particularly the Major Leagues. Too much player movement, stupid players, stupid owners, stupid fans, high prices. It wasn't all of a sudden, but gradual. I'm to the point now where I haven't attended a game yet this season and it's what, July 19th?

    I enjoy the Minor League games. Fortunately I live in an area where within an hour's drive I can see five different Minor League teams. The games are relatively inexpensive (and usually include a fireworks show to boot!) and the guys try?try hard. They want to be the next obnoxious Major Leaguers playing for greedy owners.

    I very much enjoy reading your commentary. Don't always agree 100 percent with you, but please keep it up.

    Larry McCormack, Baltimore

    Theory of the Calculus

    John Strausbaugh: Your analysis ("Editorial," 7/19) is too Boolean. Your relatives knew that tobacco was dangerous, as have many people over the past 400 years, but did they necessarily know how dangerous it is?

    The tobacco companies' attempts to obfuscate or deprecate the damage done by their product have been continual and (by virtue of their purchase of the best admen and scientists-for-hire) effective for many years, and are the root and substance of their guilt. Those who fell for it share in the blame, but it is a callous, unpleasant and ultimately criminal moral calculus that equates the con man and his victim, or the house-thief and the man who has left his window unlocked.

    Michael Turyn, Watertown, MA Seals and Croft

    I started reading Norman Kelley's latest ("Opinion," 7/19) in New York Press expecting to formulate a return volley over what could only be another self-contradictory essay from the man who unashamedly calls his intellectual superiors "pet negroes."

    Imagine my slackjawed astonishment to find that Kelley not only knitted together the perfect pop-music metaphor for the Clinton political modus operandi, but also formulated a staggering indictment of the Clintons on their home ground. However, calling Clinton and Gore "Sam and Dave" credits too much to the toadish Gore.

    That much, however, can be forgiven. Kudos to Kelley for an astute piece.

    Frank Turk, Pittsburgh


    American Pimps

    Norman Kelley is right on. I am sick and tired of seeing black people pimped by the Democrats. We need a new agenda.

    Lee Hubbard, San Francisco

    In the White House

    Norman Kelley: Your essay was very well-written. I suppose it was quite informative for individuals who may have needed an analysis of the politics of black leadership. For a fleeting moment I thought you were going to provide some suggestions on how your readers could move away from politics as usual.

    You state that Bill Clinton has not done a lot for people of color. My question for you is, what president has? Fifty years from now that question will remain. Black people know that. In selecting candidates, they just choose the lesser of the evils.

    I think you have overanalyzed the problem. The one good thing that can be said of Clinton is that he at least cared enough to try to influence blacks to vote for him. That other guy didn't even care!

    Richard Campbell, Valdosta, GA

    Fade to Black

    Norman Kelley: Your article shows the left's sham racial political agenda (one reason I became an independent). However, like most black commentators, you fail to address an even more glaring problem in the black community, one that black people rarely discuss: the insane rate of black-on-black crime. Here in Washington, DC, young black men (and some black cops) have been blowing away other black people left and right for ages. Why are American blacks so disinterested? Apparently, for the left, as long as violence is "nigger on nigger," who cares? Who's talking about self-empowerment, self-control and the restoration of the black family? Nobody in DC.

    As long as the black man in America is convinced that he does not need to be responsible to himself, his family or his community, and that his elected officials are not to be held accountable for their actions (it's Elvis in his flying saucer), the charlatans can control him. They know what they are doing when they indoctrinate blacks with a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, and with the sense that black people are at the constant mercy of The Man. They're laughing all the way to the bank. Just ask Marion Barry. If the people in the inner city were ever to become happy, productive citizens, black leaders would be out of their six- and seven-figure jobs.

    One last thing. You fail to understand the reason behind the harsh drug sentencing of young black men. Yes, the middle-class white kids in the suburbs are taking drugs, but they're not killing 76-year-old grandmothers every other day. There is no drug-related gang warfare in the middle-class suburbs that's killing people at such prodigious rates. It's not the drug crime itself, but the violence associated with it.

    François Krodel, Washington, DC

    A Critique from Way Up Parnassus

    I've been perplexed the last couple of weeks [about] what sort of game New York Press was playing, since there was an apparent tongue-in-cheek quality to many of the articles. First there's Strausbaugh denouncing his critic repeatedly for a lost apostrophe ("The Mail, 7/5), evidence sufficient for him to prove his opponent's disputatious frailty, while MUGGER later on tests the reader's attention by pretending he doesn't know the difference between "averse" and "adverse" (7/19) ("Pedro Martinez isn't adverse to plunking another player...")

    Then there's the ever anti-psychological Cockburn (railing, in recent months, against the TAT, psychologically naive surveys, the duplicity or self-servingness of nearly all psychological "evidence," proved by citing, inter alia, his typical evidence: "my friend, a Native American, told me") pitching in with an apt, if over-the-top Freudian explanation of Gore's near-catatastrophe [sic] ("Wild Justice," 7/12). (Not only are we asked to wonder why Gore was so negligent in letting go of his son's hand, but what his son's motive was in escaping into traffic in the first place.)

    Or perhaps the effort was simply to help us understand how diverse and individual these columnists are (we wouldn't expect Cheshire and White to agree on a movie like The Patriot, would we?).

    There we have MUGGER himself supporting the basis of Cockburn's criticism of questionnaires by slippery changes of vocabulary in his references to the Clemens beaning incident (7/19): first "hitting," then "nicking," then "ending Piazza's career," as in "I don't think Clemens intentionally hit Piazza...he meant (only) to nick him..." thereby rendering unassailable his position that most people were wrong when asked if Clemens "deliberately nailed the Mets' catcher." (You think perhaps hockey dad Thomas Junta, beating hockey dad Michael Costin into hemorrhaging?and being arrested for manslaughter?intended to "nail him," merely to "nick" him or to "teach him a lesson?")

    And just to make sure we're on our toes, Cockburn in his latest tome on baseball repeats the same sentence, with only minor variations, in his third and antepenultimate paragraphs?"The (Baseball) Hall (of Fame) has a feature (video) of how Hispanic (Latin American) players learn the game (have their skills nourished) in the barrios."

    So thank you. My bewilderment has subsided with your theme (baseball) issue. All this seeming carelessness merely constituted an heuristic, designed to show us that in a world of far too many publications, the usual grist for your critical mill, it is unity of subject matter that is important. Where different writers have too often to squelch their idiosyncratic styles to fit in with the "book," you are to be congratulated for bearing [sic] your souls not just in individualistic, but in redundant, logically inconsistent and illiterate fashion, proving that editors, whose obvious job is simply to impinge on writers' narcissism, are completely dispensable.

    Ethan Gologor, Manhattan

    Christ Loves Ethan Gologor, Too

    Re: MUGGER and the Boy Scouts. Those who consider me a Christian anarchist ("The Mail," 6/28) may be surprised to know that I was a Boy Scout myself (Troop 14, city of Yonkers). I have this compulsion about being brutally honest, so I have to say that some of my memories of Scouting do not jibe with the hagiographic Norman Rockwell visions of people like James Dobson. I have good memories about communing with nature and getting out of the city for a while for summer camp. I also remember chainsmoking adult organizers, foulmouthed fellow Scouts and the secretive sharing of nude girlie magazines among Scouts on campouts. I also don't remember any Christian influence of any significance. What we Scouts needed was some Jesuits or some independent Baptists to help fire up a real interest in Christ in us. What we got were visiting priests mouthing platitudes without much conviction.

    But none of the above keeps me from amiably disagreeing with MUGGER. Heterosexual Scoutmasters who get drunk or are woman-chasers are just as unacceptable to the Scouts as an unrepentant homosexual would be. It is wrong to hate homosexuals. Instead of hating them, Christians should simply proclaim the Word of God to homosexuals in a spirit of service, like we're supposed to do with everyone. Homosexuality, however, is simply not the same as skin color and all the other reasons for which it would be wrong to exclude someone from the Scouts.

    Homosexuals may or may not have a case for civil rights laws to protect them. They may even have a case for homosexual and lesbian civil marriage, which is something their close liberal friends like Al Gore would deny them. As distasteful as it is to me, I just don't know if I care if an already Godless government marries two homosexuals. It seems like a naturally sick progression for the state, which is inevitably going to burn itself up in an implosion of sin and corruption, and leave only the question of who's living for God (the real Power) and who isn't.

    But those homosexuals who believe in "sexually integrating" the Boy Scouts have no case at all. They have no better a case than would a Scoutmaster who believes in promoting Clintonian sexual practices with women (i.e., de facto disrespect of women, although it goes conveniently unchallenged by feminist Clinton sycophants). It becomes a matter of lifestyle, and (however imperfectly) the Boy Scouts have always exercised their constitutional rights of free association in such a way as to exclude the promotion of certain lifestyles. Homosexuality is one of them, and the Supreme Court, for a change, made the right decision.

    Jack Seney, Queens

    Auld Lang Signs

    Taki's baseball story ("Top Drawer," 7/19) was great. How I miss those days. We will never see their like again.

    H.W. Kazmierski, Baltimore

    Take the Hotdog

    MUGGER: I must agree with you on the hotdog thing (7/19). They taste better off my grill than at any ballpark I've ever been to.

    However, I take issue with your crack about people from Washington attending Orioles games at Memorial Stadium. Seems like Baltimorons always complain about suburbanites from DC invading their fair city to watch a borrowed home team. What crap. I'm from northern Virginia (born and raised), and am a diehard Orioles fan. What, because I didn't live in that city, my fan status is questionable? What choice did I have? The only games on tv when I was growing up in the late 70s and 80s (aside from the Monday night games and the occasional Saturday broadcast, during which I was playing Little League) were Orioles games, broadcast on Channel 20 (WDCA) in Washington, with the sweet and steady voice of Chuck Thompson and the raspy twang of Brooks Robinson, who was, to me, a goofy but likable color man before I learned of his onfield brilliance.

    Anyway, just because a guy drives up from DC to see an Orioles game doesn't mean that he's a cellphone-toting jerkoff lawyer/lobbyist/wonk with no real interest in the game (at least some of us aren't). Some of us grew up watching Orioles magic being made by Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Al Bumbry, Tippy Martinez, Ken Singleton, Earl Weaver and, of course, Cal. I don't really care if Washington gets a team. I'll be an O's fan forever (even if that commie Angelos runs the team even further into the ground).

    We'll save the debate about Camden Yards for another day.

    Brad Bunn, Dumfries, VA

    Father & Son Games

    MUGGER: I used to watch a lot of sports, baseball included. I grew up in Connecticut and it seems that we are divided into two camps: those who cheer on New York teams or those who root for Boston. My dad is from the Bronx, and liked opera more than sports, so he didn't mind when most of my family opted for Boston teams.

    1986 was a tough year for Boston fans, but all of that was eclipsed by my father's death. I was 14. Most family friends thought the best therapy was to take me to baseball games?get my mind off things. I watched a hell of a lot of baseball that summer, but I can now only remember one game. It doesn't matter though, I was still reeling from losing my dad. A Red Sox win wouldn't have mattered much at the time.

    For me, the game carries a ton of meaning, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who feels this way. It was transformed from a sporting event into a vehicle that was used to help me, a 14-year-old kid?suddenly man of the house?cope. Then Len Bias overdosed, and I dropped watching sports entirely.

    Thanks for your column.

    Sean F. Robertson, Manhattan

    Monterrey Popular

    MUGGER: I think the most logical city for baseball expansion is Monterrey, Mexico. They've got a fantastic stadium and a fanatical fan base. Best of all,