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By J SWYGART
The last week in March is always one of the stranger weeks of the year here at the old newspaper factory. Staffers in the editorial department of the Democrat are catching their breath after the publication of our progress edition — this year called People, Places & Profiles — and it’s always a post-partum time, of sorts. Meanwhile, life in Decatur and Adams County has slowed to a crawl during this annual spring break mystery tour as half the residents headed south for some fun in the sun.
Which leaves us struggling today for some column fodder. To be sure, there’s no shortage of newsworthy events going on at the state and national levels. What to make of any of them is a mystery of a different sort, though, and frankly we don’t have the mental capacity right now to delve too deeply into any of them.
Hearing GOP presidential wanna-be Rick Santorum, he of sweater vest, no contraception and moral turpitude fame, uttering “bullsh*t” into a live microphone earlier this week was fun, but it’s hard to stretch that into a full column.
Same goes with the escalating Indiana Senate race, with Republican Dick Lugar fighting for his political life against a GOP hack who apparently doesn’t much care to attend meetings and is wholly dependent on the tea party for his campaign existence.
Also, as of this writing we’re still waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to render a decision on the Obama administration’s health care overhaul law. But you can bet your bottom dollar the court’s final vote will be 5-4. It always is.
And what to make of the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch vigilante? While the racial overtones surrounding the case are undeniable — and have correctly brought renewed light to the racial divide that still exists in this country — new details are emerging daily as to what exactly did happen on that fateful night in February.
That the investigation has been botched from the beginning is clear. So, too, is the realization that so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws on the books in Florida and two dozen other states, including Indiana, should be revisited ... and quickly.
But when in doubt, let’s talk sports — that refuge from reality that seldom fails to provide comfort.
And comfort came in a big way this week, wrapped in an Easter bonnet of blue trimmed in white. The reign of Frank McCourt as owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers is all but over.
I’ve bled Dodger Blue for the better part of 50 years — since the days when Maury Wills and Willie Davis were blistering the basepaths, Koufax and Drysdale were intimidating National League hitters, and John Rosoboro took a baseball bat beaning from Giants hurler Juan Marichal. I nearly passed out in ‘84 when Kirk Gibson went deep and limped around the bases, providing the spark that carried the Dodgers to their last World Series title.
That was 28 years ago, and the days since admittedly have been a little bleak. None have been darker than last couple years, when McCourt dragged the Bums into financial and cultural ruin. Thankfully, McCourt’s wife was smart enough to divorce him, which ultimately led to the sale of the Dodgers — pending MBL approval —to Magic Johnson and his group of investors on Tuesday.
There once again is joy in Mudville. Mighty McCourt has finally struck out.
Then there’s the NCAA version of March Madness, which also has been a fairly reliably and pleasant annual distraction over the years. This year, however, for reasons not fully clear, the NCAA men’s basketball tourney has been less entertaining that usual.
Maybe it’s because with each passing year college basketball becomes less and less like the game most of us played in the days of our youth. Today the NCAA game has “evolved” to closely resemble the NBA, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Both versions of Dr. James Naismith’s game more accurately mirror the World Wrestling Federation, with a ball thrown in for good measure. “No autopsy, no foul” seems to be the rule for any player driving to the hoop, while a seemingly innocent hand check outside the three-point line is sure to send someone to the free throw line. It’s maddening.
The college game currently is distinguishable from the NBA only in that the pros can take five steps before a traveling violation is called, while college players only get four. And they don’t get paid. Heck, if those rules had been in effect when I was playing, I could have been a star. I could have gotten a scholarship.
Okay, I got cut from my freshman team. So maybe not. But still ....