Saturday, January 13

Today We Are All Knicks Fans (Or Should Be)

When I was a sprout there was no major league team in Indianapolis, just the venerable minor-league Indians and the sporadic appearance of something called the Continental Football League, a sort of semi-pro factory-league affair if I'm recalling the games I saw correctly. This had a significant effect on my rabbit-eared youth (that is my rabbit-eared set; my own ears are fairly well-proportioned the freakishly massive skull they bookend), in that I was forced to watch Chicago Bears football (good: Gale Sayers; bad: I hated the Bears and wanted to watch Jim Brown) and Cincinnati Reds baseball (good: Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion; bad: everything else about that organization can be summed up by Pete Rose's hairdo, plus after the Amazin' fans got a little rambunctious in left field during the '69 playoffs George Lee "Sparky" Anderson told the assembled press the crowd must have been on the Marihuana or something) as these were deemed my Regional Favorites.

Then, of course, the Hudnut administration stole the Colts (screwing over in the process, thank you very much, not just Balamer but the late Robert Welch, local wealthy person and driving force behind building the Hoosier Dome (have I told you that "Hoosier Dome" was the winner of a Name That White Elephant contest? Or that the entry rules emphasized creativity?) who reportedly had an agreement with the Mecom family to move the Saints here, presumably in broad daylight an' everything). Oh, and prior to that the ol' Red White and Blue Ball League stopped off at the State Fair Colosseum for the most entertaining professional basketball ever played, which "merging" with the NBA (on terms resembling your own "merging" with your prison cellmate) soon put an end to.

As a result Indianapolis fans, and the Indianapolis media, amount to the nicest, most hospitable, and least incisive consort in all of North American professional sport. It's changed slightly over the years, as the possibility of getting your own network show simply on the merits of your bad behavior has filtered into the Silurian limestone hereabouts and gotten into the water supply, but absent the bi-monthly Pacer felony sports fans here are more or less just mild-to-moderately uninformed Good Joes, who grouse when things go wrong but do not bring supplies of used batteries to games.

That's not the way they do it in real major-league towns, where even legends get raked over the coals and where high-priced talent is expected to produce not just wins but championships. "Chicago fans are the greatest in the world," Bruce the Goose told me over twenty-five years ago, "They're the only one who stand up to boo."

And in that vein I'd like to know what we've gotten for military spending which has topped the rest of the world combined for twenty-five years? More bloated procurement, more high-tech gadgetry at the expense of safety, a culture in which too many value careerism over courage, not to mention spying on American citizens? And not to mention mishandling a half-a-trillion bucks and counting?

Throw the bums out. Wholesale. Every last general officer who facilitated Rumsfeld. It doesn't even have anything to do with how one felt or feels about the war. It doesn't contradict the mess the civilian leadership has made of things. It's the least that can be done to honor one Eric Ken Shinseki, USA (ret.)

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