Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Aaron Outduels Winfrey

Like many people around the world, I've been through an Oprah-hating phase and an Oprah-tolerating phase. Now I've decided I'm in the What's-the-Big-Deal-About-Oprah phase, which is directed at both her harshest critics and her most adamant sycophants. These efforts to demonize or deify her simply bore me. I don't watch her talk show and I won't; I won't buy her magazine because I'm tired of seeing her grill on it every time. Does she think people will forget what she looks like in a week? I do read some of the books she recommends, but contrary to popular perception, Oprah did not invent literature. Toni Morrison was writing good books long before anyone ever heard of Ms. Winfrey. Of course, Oprah has probably made Ms. Morrison a great deal of money by pimping her work, but some work deserves to be pimped!

I don't care what Jennifer Anniston's favorite pigout food is, where I can buy the world's most expensive cup of hot chocolate or that Oprah browbeat the author of "A Million Little Stories Real and Imagined About My Drug Addiction" on the air. In her defense, some media pundits were attacking Oprah Winfrey for recommending the book, but that would be like punching my English teacher in the face for making me read "Great Expectations." I'm not saying she couldn't have handled it better, nor am I suggesting there isn't a great deal of "embellishment" in many supposedly non-fiction works, but when you're called on the carpet for it like he was, just admit it and take your medicine.

Oprah's world is not terribly relevant to mine. She's made good and more or less done it her way, but I don't see what the fuss is about. She's far from the only celebrity who supports charitable causes and although I think she has good intentions, I find her a bit hubristic at times. So that's it. She's neither Saint nor Satan, pretty much like you and me. I, of course, am not a self-made billionaire like her, but for that I blame you readers. Not one of you has requested my address so you can send me a check for this very adequate work I do every couple of weeks!

Today is Memorial Day and that gives me the opportunity to bore readers by revealing what I think about each time I hear the National Anthem played. I think of my Great-Grandfather, who died in 1993, slogging through the deserts and mountains of North Africa on his way to Italy during World War II. He and I are not of the same blood, as he was my Great-Grandmother's second husband, so I might easily have still been born without his service. But what kind of world would I have been born into? Mind you, I get weary of the self-congratulatory bumper stickers and banners some American veterans choose to display, but my Great-Grandfather never showed those tendencies. He didn't have to tell you he fought in World War II, but he'd recount some of his experiences if you asked. Thank you, Lester, for going to war. And for coming home. We all miss you.

Isn't pizza great?

Now that Barry Bonds has surpassed Babe Ruth on the home run list, I'd just like for someone to talk about how great Henry Aaron was. We've all seen the footage from April 8, 1974 when he passed Ruth, but for some reason his greatness is presumed by many to be the product of longevity and consistency. He is widely respected for enduring death threats and racial epithets during his quest to surpass the Babe, but when the question of who the greatest player ever is, matters generally turn to Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and so on. All of these are worthy candidates for the title, and I won't turn this into a blog filled with baseball statistics, but here's something you may not realize (I didn't either until I looked it up): Henry Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs--a record Barry Bonds seems unlikely to eclipse--and a total of 3771 hits, placing him third all time behind Pete Rose and Ty Cobb. Subtract the former number from the latter and you get 3,016. Three thousand hits is a Hall of Fame career for any player, which means Aaron would be in the Hall of Fame if he'd never even hit one home run. How many players can you say that about? Well, you can say it about Rose and Cobb and even Tony Gwynn, but the difference is, they weren't home run hitters (the three of them combined for over three hundred fewer home runs than Aaron had by himself) and Aaron is number one all time! Think about that.

And then stop thinking. Give your mind the day off.


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