Sports question of the week, from Billy R. in Newark, New Jersey: "Is baseball going to end up like basketball?"
Well, Billy, it's hard to tell. Since Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in 1948, an increasing number of Blacks have made the Major Leagues. The Commissioner's Office does not keep statistics, or so they say, but the figure has to be at almost 50 percent.
The National Basketball Association is now 70 percent Black.
Does this bother you, Billy, having the best players play the game? "Well, that catch Ken Griffey made was terrific, and can you believe the way Rickey Henderson was playing? He hit 20 homers, and the Yankees didn't even get him for his power. But, I mean, we invented the game. They can't just take it over."
Let's hear it for the new patriotism, subtle and understated in the keen grasp of our lovable President, but taken to ethnocentric and, verily, racist lengths by some of his less enlightened followers.
I didn't believe it could be true, frankly. Surely Americans are as intelligent as their President, I thought. Billy showed me otherwise in a casual conversation on Raymond Street, Newark. And there are lots of Billys out there.
Take the federal government. Please. Just joking. I love the federal government as much as the next guy, maybe more. But I was surprised to read in The Capital Spotlight, a weekly Black newspaper in Washington, about Carlos Campbell, a preppy-looking Black man who was appointed by President Reagan as Assistant Secretary of Commerce.
Confirmed in November, 1981, Campbell did not get a nameplate on his door for two months. "Another assistant secretary who came in after me got his in one week," he recalled. Probably just a mix-up.
His second day on the job, Campbell arrived to find his office in ruins. "Vandals broke into my office, overturned furniture, smashed a photo of my wife and daughter, and urinated in a jar of jelly beans which sat on my desk," he said in The Capital Spotlight. Hardly a mix-up.
Campbell also received obscene phone calls in the middle of the night and other harassment, The Spotlight reported, and was finally finagled out of his job by being put up for promotion. Waiting for his confirmation in the new position, he was told to leave his current post. As it turned out, he had never even been nominated for the new job.
So what's the moral? The lesson for today is that racism still exists, and we sometimes need examples to remind us.
The 1987 disease will be a whopper.
Seriously, you thought AIDS was big: in a couple years' time, America will be hit with a sexually transmitted disease so dangerous that public toilets will be clean from disuse, people will cover their mouths with kerchiefs in elevators, and the private investigation industry will be booming as families check out fiances' sexual history.
Sound weird? Well, get used to it, baby, 'cause it looks like that's the way things are headed. Let me be the first to sound the warning knoll.
The evidence: herpes in 1983, AIDS in 1985, need I say more, isn't it frightfully obvious? Someone or some group out there--the religious wing of the right-wing fringe pops to mind--is out to stop sex, and they're getting better at it.
First, they found a virus that would cause permanent, visible bodily damage, lip lesions, not so much a Scarlet A as a Rosy Period.
Next, they found a virus that didn't directly kill people, but lowered their immunity so that other diseases could claim them. Unfortunately, from their point of view, it spreads around quickly only in extremely sexually promiscuous populations.
The next deadly virus will have two characteristics: it will have a long latency period, so you won't know who is actually a carrier; and it will have no clear starting point in the population. No longer will heterosexuals enjoy the relative safety that they currently feel with AIDS.
Everybody in the country will have to be tested for the virus, despite the constitutional objections that are sure to be raised by certain suicidal do-gooders; but by the time this can be accomplished, some huge proportion will already have been infected. Will we cordon off New York? Will we quarantine the entire West Coast and wait for the inhabitants to come out of the latency phase and die? And in the meantime, before we are able to impose some sort of final solution on the problem, will panicky parents keep their kids out of school? Will they flee urban areas?
Sex will have been conquered. Of course, in such a situation, the propagation of the species will also have been conquered. It is at this point that we will be able to tell which group has been foisting this series of diseases upon us. If an antidote is discovered--particularly if the Reagan Administration rules that distribution of the antidote is to be performed only by justices of the peace or similar matrimonial officials--then we may guess that the far right was the culprit.
If no antidote is found, we will have no choice but to blame the Russians.