Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Where have you gone, Sandy Koufax?

There is an appropriate place in life for sports.  In life, that is.  I emphasize life because that is, after all, an all-consuming quest of mine--what is this life all about, and what does my existence mean?  This search for meaning then leads me to question the primacy that society grants to irrelevant aspects like, well, sports.

Today's exhibit:
News of Father’s Death Is Withheld From Royals Starter Edinson Volquez
Re-read that.

A man dies.  The news about his death is held back from his son, only because he is the starting pitcher in a World Series game.

No, it was not the team that put a cone of silence all around.  It was the pitcher's family:
According to the Royals, Roandy Volquez, the pitcher’s wife, told General Manager Dayton Moore what had happened and asked him not to tell her husband until after he had finished pitching the biggest game of his career, his first World Series start. The team then asked the broadcasters on Fox not to announce the news, because Volquez routinely goes into the clubhouse between innings, and the broadcasts of the game are usually on.
Let's see.  The wife and the family told the team not to let the pitcher know that his father had died.  And then the broadcaster was asked to keep the mouth shut as well.  Seriously?  Hello, the father is dead!

But, we live in a world where news is hard to contain, right?
Shortly after that, news reports began to circulate that Volquez’s father had died, and even as Volquez went to the mound unaware of what had happened, many people around him knew.
Many people around him knew that his father was dead.  The son was the last to know.  Seriously?  Hello, the father is dead!

It was not as if the father was a mean guy either; three years ago, the son said this:
“It was good for me because my mom and dad always took care of me,” he said in the article. “I started playing baseball when I was 9 or 10, and they took care of me. It was easy for me.”
Of course, it was the wife, the family, who made the decision not to inform Volquez.  But, I can't help thinking that it is so much a reflection of the contemporary values in society.  Yet another example of our messed up priorities.

This story is such a contrast to one of my favorites from the rich lore of baseball.  Another pitcher, another World Series, and a different call on priorities.  Fifty years ago, Sandy Koufax refused to pitch on the first game of the World Series because it was Yom Kippur.  
Koufax, who wasn't particularly observant, had no clue that his decision would carry so much weight—then or now.
"I believe he was thinking, 'I'm going to pitch the next day. What's the big deal? We have [star pitcher] Don Drysdale starting'," Leavy said in a Q and A with Sports Illustrated in 2002. "And, in a way, that makes it even sweeter. Yom Kippur is a day of sacrifice. .... And here's Koufax, who's doing this reflexively not out of his own great belief, but really more in deference to others. So it was a much greater sacrifice on his part. For a more religious man it might have been a no-brainer. For Koufax, it was the right thing to do."
And in doing the right thing, Koufax inspired a generation of Jewish players that came after him.
That was class.  That was demonstrating what was more important in life.

Perhaps far too many people in this world simply do not care about understanding life and its priorities.  They then spend a great deal of time and money on sports.   How messed up is this approach?  Here is another exhibit:
Five former University of Louisville basketball players and recruits told Outside the Lines that they attended parties at a campus dorm from 2010 to 2014 that included strippers paid for by the team's former graduate assistant coach, Andre McGee.
One of the former players said he had sex with a dancer after McGee paid her. Each of the players and recruits attended different parties at Billy Minardi Hall, where dancers, many of whom stripped naked, were present. Three of the five players said they attended parties as recruits and also when they played for Louisville.
Said one of the recruits, who ultimately signed to play elsewhere: "I knew they weren't college girls. It was crazy. It was like I was in a strip club."
It is one messed up life that we lead!

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