Tuesday, April 10, 2012


There is a line or two from the play Inherit the Wind that's been rattling around in my head for the last few days. This play, you might recall, features the classic battle between the lawyers Henry Drummond and Matthew Harrison Brady. In reality, of course, it is the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial" and the lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan that set the tone and backdrop for the play. Aside from the fact that this intellectual battle still rages between the scientific community and the religious right, this play contains additional gems of wisdom on all manner of topics. So I recalled this line about the price of progress. In an age when everything from the book and the telephone have been reconfigured, I still wonder about what is progressive and what might be regressive. I realize that it's futile to think or even wish that some things would remain the same. But there is a good deal of comfort in wondering about what is lost and what is gained. So, here's the quote:

"Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it."

Henry Drummond: Sometimes I think there's a man who sits behind a counter and says, "All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance. Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline."
What I want to question here is the definition of progress. By that I mean, what happens when some things change for the worst. I'm not thinking about technology here, What about a simple thing like a baseball cap.
Our national pastime has evolved to the state where we can no longer expect our favorite players to remain with the same team for long. Back in the day, a player played for one or two teams in his career. Babe Ruth was a Yankee (I know all about his Bosox beginning) Roberto Clemente was a Pirate, Willie Mays a Giant, Jackie Robinson a Dodger...
Since I support free agency, I know we can't do much about where a player's contract ends up, but what I want to question is the de-regulation of colors.

Have you ever seen a red Giants or Yankee hat? What's up with that? Again, I have no problem with pink uniforms or hats for Breast Cancer Awareness, I'm talking about all this baseball clothing out there in random colors. Apparently any cap is available in any color. What happened to the sanctity of each franchise having its own colors? These teams have a long history, with a faithful fan base and a heritage passed down from one generation to another. Don't mess with that, because when that goes so does so much more. It's bad enough that inauthenticity has entered the worlds of music, fashion, literature. Keep baseball attached to its roots. As Malcolm X liked to point out, "a people with no history is like a tree without roots...attached to nothing" We're been uncoupled from our culture bit by bit, I fear. Definitely not progress.

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