Thursday, June 03, 2010

No More Tears

Somewhere baseball manager Jimmie Dugan is spinning in his grave.

In the women's professional baseball league movie "A League of Their Own," Dugan (as played by Tom Hanks) was forced to educate one of his blubbering, girly-girl charges that "there's no crying in baseball!"

And he was correct. In America of the 1940's, when the movie was set, there was no crying in baseball. Or anywhere else in public, for that matter. Especially among men. Alas, in baseball in 2010, as in so many other areas of society, we've come a long way baby:

Jim Joyce, whose blown call at first base with two outs in the ninth inning ruined Detroit pitcher's Armando Galarraga's perfect game Wednesday, worked Thursday's Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians game as the home-plate umpire.

Galarraga brought out the lineup card and shook hands with Joyce, who was wiping away tears, at the pregame home-plate meeting.

I'm not crazy about MLB umpires. Something about their casual, routine incompetence in calling balls and strikes and outs on the bases combined with the arrogance that accompanies a tenured-for-life union position rubs me the wrong way. The fact that one of these devils completely hosed the Twins on Wednesday night doesn't help matters.

Yet a new level of disrespect is reached when one of these men chooses to face the consequences of his flawed actions by bawling.

Yes, everyone makes mistakes. It is good of him to admit it, express regret, vow to do better. (Not that he had any choice, with irrefutable video evidence and an entire nation focused on the injustice of his call). But this resort to emotion in public indicates a problem. A lack of maturity and self-respect, ignorance of appropriate decorum. Also, something about the need to draw attention to his own plight and away from the problem he caused. Joyce's follow-up comments relate to this. It seems his tears weren't so much about regret over blowing the call. They were about how special he feels based on the reaction of his peers:

I cannot believe the outpouring of support I've gotten, not only from my fellow umpires but all my friends, my family and, frankly, you guys," Joyce said. "I can't thank you enough. I can't thank the people enough. I'm a big boy. I can handle this. It's probably the hardest thing I've ever had to go through in my professional career, without a doubt."

In other words: you like me, you really like me!

Inappropriate crying is not a phenomenon limited to baseball. Way too many politicians of late have been opening up the water works in public. Just last week, during a hearing on The Oil Spill, a Louisiana Rep. lost it:

In a House subcommittee meeting on the spill, Louisiana Rep. Charlie Melancon, who represents much of the coastal area being directly affected by the spill, broke down in tears while delivering his remarks.

"I'd like to remind my colleagues ... that the recovery phase is just as critical as the response phase," he read. "Everything that I know and love is at risk."

His lip quivering as he tried to maintain his composure, Melancon was unable to finish his statement.

It's hard not to sound like an uncaring jerk while criticizing someone affected by The Oil Spill. But …. get over yourself Congressman. We don't need sobbing self tributes about you and what you love. (Especially when the job you appear to be doing is preparing your colleagues for future requests of untold billions more of government spending to help your district out.) Stick to the facts, respect the institution, and maintain some dignity, man!

A few weeks ago, the closing of the 2010 Minnesota Legislative session was also the cause for much weeping. Not by the tax payers stuck with the consequences of billions of dollars in deficits mind you. No, the people crying were the ones who put us there, in honor of themselves:

... when Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, gaveled the House to order at 3:05 p.m., the representatives gave her a standing ovation that choked her up momentarily.

A standing O! Too bad she and her fellow legislators didn't jack up the deficit $4 billion, she might have gotten carried around the room on their shoulders.

After MAK's tears for herself, there was more crying all night long. See if you can spot a common cause:

Sen. Steve Murphy laughed and cried and urged his colleagues to carry on with good work as he made his retirement speech on the Senate floor Sunday night.

An emotional [Sen. Jim Vickerman] expressed pride in his work for veterans. He recalled deciding to run for the Senate at the State Fair several years ago, thinking it would be a great place to work. Through tears, told colleagues he was right.

[Rep. Marty Seifert] also got emotional talking about the friends he has from the House, both Republican and Democrat.

With tears flowing, [Rep. Karla Bigham] thanked family and colleagues for the opportunity to serve where she grew up. She said she tried to work across the aisle "because that's how you get things done."

What these many examples may indicate is that getting verklempt over your own specialness is human nature. I pine for the old days when we had a culture that properly stigmatized it. For now, save us the spectacle and just go back and cry in your rooms you big babies!