Streetwise Professor

April 7, 2010

A Poser Who “Throws Like a Girl”* (Updated)

Filed under: Politics,Sports — The Professor @ 1:50 pm

After doing his Rip Sewell/Bill “Spaceman” Lee imitation at the Washington National’s home opener while wearing a White Sox cap, Obama was asked about his favorite White Sox players:

BHO: You know, uh… I… thought that, uh… you know, the truth is that a lot of the Cubs I like too. But I did not become a Sox fan until I moved to Chicago. Because I, uh… I was growin’ up in Hawaii. So I’ve actually been an Oakland As fan. But, when I moved to Chicago, I was livin’ close to what was then Kaminsky Park, right? And went to a couple of games, and fell in love, and the nice thing about the Sox is it’s real blue-collar baseball. You know, we always tease about the Cubs, they, you know they’re up at Wrigley… sippin’ wine, playin’ those day games, they’re havin’ a good time…

Note he couldn’t actually name any White Sox players, any “blue collar” heroes, past or present.  What’s more, note the rationale for claiming allegiance to the Sox. This simultaneously pegs the lame-o-meter and the pose-o-meter.

As a third-generation Cubs fan, I can say that yes, particularly beginning in the 1980s, the Cubs were widely perceived as the team of the upscale, the yuppies, the corporate crowd.  This reputation is deserved: when I went with my Dad to a Cubs game a couple of years ago (a loss, of course) it bugged both of us no end that (a) the tickets were extremely expensive, (b) most of the fans who paid these prices weren’t paying the slightest attention to the game, and (c) those that were had no clue as to what was going on (e.g., yelling on routine fly balls as if they were about to rocket onto Waveland or Sheffield).  For most of the crowd, it was a social event, conspicuous consumption, rather than an athletic contest.  (Yes, I am becoming a sports curmudgeon.)

The Sox are the anti-Cubs.  Just as there are legit Cubs fans, there are legit Sox fans whose allegiance is not chosen as a social statement.  But those who want to identify themselves as more urban, more hip, will sometimes choose to become Sox fans–or affect being Sox fans.  For such people, wearing Sox gear is an affectation, an advertisement, a statement (“I’m an edgy urbanite, not a gauche suburbanite”). (The Sox have consciously played to this, e.g., the black caps/uniforms.)

Obama is quite clearly such a person, and he all but admits it in what I quoted above.  The whole Obama White Sox thing is just another piece of a persona, deliberately chosen to convey an image, a perception.  It is, in other words, quintessential Obama.

As is his rationalization for his performance:

The president suggested his accuracy would have improved with a longer outing.“If I had a whole inning, I’m telling you, I would have cleaned up,” he quipped.

Would it kill him to admit “Well, I just suck at baseball”?  Is he so invested in his own ego that he has to be great at everything? I know that politicians are narcissists, but this guy is off the charts.

Update.  John Kass at the Tribune takes a few gentle whacks.

* This is the characterization of my elder daughter, a pretty good softball pitcher (wicked drop, especially), who quite definitely does not throw like a Barack Obama (as demonstrated by the swollen index finger on my glove hand, every spring and summer, from about the time she was 11.)

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kevin Whited. Kevin Whited said: Diigo link: A Poser Who “Throws Like a Girl”* (Streetwise Professor)heh […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Streetwise Professor » A Poser Who “Throws Like a Girl”* (Updated) -- — April 7, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

  2. Reminds me of those old WWII movies, in which, in order to identify Nazi infiltrators on the battlefield disguised in US uniform, the US soldiers would ask baseball questions – name the players in the World Series, or name the players on the New York Yankees – and their positions.

    Forget about throwing.

    A president who can’t name a single player on one of his hometown baseball teams – hmmm.

    Comment by elmer — April 8, 2010 @ 8:24 am

  3. Disco Demolition Night was classic.

    Comment by Mr. Y — April 9, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

  4. Mr. Y. My favorite memory of DDN relates to Jimmy Piersall, Sox broadcaster and a former ballplayer who suffered from bipolar disorder, as dramatized in the film “Fear Strikes Out.” Anyways, Piersall totally lost it over DDN. He was hospitalized immediately afterwards. Steve Dahl and Gerry Meyer, who were the evil geniuses behind the event, called the hospital while on the air with their radio show. A nurse answered: “Mr. Piersall is not to be disturbed right now.” Dahl replied, without losing a beat: “I think it’s a little late for that.”

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 9, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

  5. Doze were duh Daze.

    I don’t often ck. WGN. A few years ago, I noticed what seemed to be a greater preference for the Cubs at that station. The White Sox came on at the first pitch and were taken off air immediately after the final out.

    This observation could be off in that I’m not a regular viewer of WGN.

    Good to see Chicago have a good NHL team after a lull. I miss seeing the funky organ at the old joint.

    BTW, Ivan Boldirev was born in Yugoslavia to a White Russian family.

    Comment by Mr. Y — April 9, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  6. WGN was once the Cubs channel, exclusively. Used to be that WGN carried virtually every Cubs game, and the Sox were on Ch. 32 or even further down the dial. Now most of the Cubs games are on cable.

    Yes, the Hawks are pretty much the only game in town now. The Stadium was a riot. LIterally, sometimes. More than once I saw security (off duty cops) kick the crap out of people there.

    Speaking of people of Russian descent in Chicago sports, during WWII they had an outfielder named Lou Novikoff. He was a character. He was afraid of the ivy on the walls of Wrigley–he thought it was poison ivy. It wasn’t until one of the coaches showed Novikoff that the ivy was safe by chewing some of the leaves that Novikoff would go close to the stuff. Of course, his nickname was “The Mad Russian.”

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — April 10, 2010 @ 8:28 am

  7. I first became aware of him via The NYT obit in the 1970s. He was no Dodger legend Pee Wee Reiser, who sadistically made love to the walls

    Tony O destroyed the Rangers in one playoff series, when it looked like the Blue Shirts were finally gonna win the Cup after so many years. They’ve a big game today at 3 eastern time against the Flyers – with the winner advancing to the playoffs.

    There’s something to be said about the old arenas. Starting with Camden Yards, MLB got it right by going back to a more traditional designing of ball parks.

    Comment by Mr. Y — April 11, 2010 @ 7:24 am

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