The funniest thing I’ve read all week was President Trump’s threat to stop using his Twitter account.
Of Twitter, NPR quoted him saying, “I think I’d be hurting it very badly if we didn’t use it anymore. We have other sites we can use, I guess, or we’d have to develop other sites.”
It brought back warm memories of sandlot baseball games. I guess I should explain sandlot baseball games to those who were born too late.
Before never-ending real estate development, there were vacant lots. They just sat there unused, except when children played on them. Unsupervised children wandered around loose in those days. No parents around! Nobody cared!
Eventually, some 10-year-old would show up with a bat, a ball and some baseball gloves, and say, “Let’s choose teams for a baseball game!”
It could take up to an hour for us to decide how the teams could be chosen “fairly.” First, there’d be a debate regarding the application of the concept “fair” to the situation at hand. A debate, among mostly 9- and 10-year-olds. Fortunately, there were usually a couple of older kids standing by who, based on their longer institutional memory, could recommend long-accepted standard practices.
Team captains would be selected. The guy who brought the gear would, of course, be one team captain. Some other guy would assert flatly that he’d be the opposing team captain, and hopefully that would be that. (Objections could mean another hour spent arguing, so most of us would just let it go with a shrug.)
Then the actual selections of the team members would be made. Some random method would assign first choice to one captain or the other, and then they would take turns picking their preferences to be on their teams.
I’d always be the last one remaining after all the other kids got picked. Always. I’m not exaggerating. I completely understood. You don’t want a player on your team who can neither hit a ball nor catch one. That’s just solid, goal-oriented thinking. I was fine with sitting the great game out. Or standing. The sandlot didn’t have seating.
But that could not be, because 10-year-olds then were not into that kind of goal-oriented thinking. They were into weird ethical absolutist ideas, like “Everyone has to get to play,” and “It’s not fair if someone’s left out.” Even if that kid’s fine with it — maybe especially because of that. “If we don’t make him play, someone else might decide not to play” was never said, but only because they didn’t want anyone to get the idea.
So, I’d be forced onto one team or other, which invariably meant that team then had an extra player.
The solution to the inequality: One player on my team would be taken off that team and made umpire. I’d volunteer but be turned down. “You don’t know the rules of baseball.”
“Oh, yeah. Right.”
That was most of the set-up. We’d mark the bases with rocks or boards or cardboard. A coin toss would settle which team got to bat first. I’d strike out every time it was my turn at bat. When I had to play in the field, I’d be assigned the far outfield, unless a really strong batter stepped up, in which case they’d move me in close and put someone else out deep. I don’t remember how many fly balls landed close but untouched by me, or how many times I tried to throw the runner out, only to miss the player I was throwing to by half a block.
But here’s something I remember clearly: In one of these games, when I was 9, around the 7th inning, the guy-with-the-gear at that time (I’ll call him Steve) was running toward home plate and tagged with the ball just as he reached it. The umpire called him out.
Steve was furious. “I touched the plate! There’s no way I could be out!” There was a half hour of squabbling, as the teams took the sides they would be expected to. But the umpire wouldn’t budge.
The inevitable happened. Steve finally said the words we were all expecting to hear:
“This is all wrong! I won’t stand for this! I’m taking my ball and bat and gloves and going home. You can all have fun playing baseball with sticks and rocks!”
And he did! It wasn’t a bluff!
I’m so hoping Trump isn’t bluffing and really does quit Twitter.
Read more of the June 3-9, 2020 issue.