- The Washington Times - Friday, October 17, 2003

‘Dubious’ opinion

In the article “A dubious scenario in Kobe case” (Sports, Wednesday), Tom Knott writes, in part, “Bryant, though, is not some wacko lurking in Rock Creek Park or a parking garage, looking to grab a woman.” Exactly how does Mr. Knott know this? Is Mr. Knott a personal friend of Kobe Bryant’s? He doesn’t say.

I don’t know what kind of man Mr. Bryant is; I have never met him in person, only seen him on television and the sports pages. He may well be everything nice he is portrayed as, but I have no delusions that I “know” the man. I don’t. In fact, when all is said and done, I suspect very few people know Mr. Bryant well, as very few people know most of us well. We think we do because Mr. Bryant is seen by us as a familiar personage, good ballplayer, family man — in short, what his publicist wants us to see.

This may well explain the young lady’s foolish decision to accept Mr. Bryant’s invitation to his room: She “knew” him as much as the rest of us do.

I really have no idea of Mr. Bryant’s innocence or guilt; I will leave that to the courts to decide. Let’s just be sure we don’t make the mistake of assuming an individual’s public persona is equal to his or her private one. Didn’t we already do that with O.J. Simpson?

COLIN PARRY

Fredericksburg, Va.0

Dear Steve

I forgive you. Please forgive me. I am a lifelong Cubs fan, too. I was born in 1967, so I am too young to remember 1969, yet I heard the laments of my family members in the 1970s. I remember countless seasons in the 1970s when the Cubs were on top early in the season only to fade in the hot July and August summers at Wrigley Field before night games in Chicago.

I was 17 when Steve Garvey drove a homer through my heart in the ninth inning of game four in 1984, and we are familiar with 1989 and 1998 and, of course, 2003. The greatest tragedy of this season is not that the Marlins beat us with their, dare I admit, better team. The greatest tragedy is that a fellow Cubs fan was assaulted for trying to have fun at the old ballpark (“Cubs fan finds no refuge in doghouse,” Page A20, Thursday).

Remember Harry Carry’s expression, “You can’t beat fun at the old ballpark.” That’s what baseball — and most sports — is all about. It’s about fun. One of my most precious memories of fun at the old ballpark was watching my father catch a foul ball with my Little League baseball mitt in 1977. We still have that ball. In fact, we even have Harry Carry’s signature on it because we saw him after the game and it was at old Comiskey Park. My dad is a White Sox fan, but he made me become a Cubs fan when he took me to my first ballgame at Wrigley in 1974. He actually pulled me out of my first-grade class to attend. I also have a ball my dad caught at Wrigley Field in 1958. The Cubs’ blue ink is fading, but I can still read it: “Cubs Park 1958.”

I must admit that I was angry with you, Steve, and I hate to think now how I might have gotten caught up in the insults and blame had I been at Wrigley Field Tuesday night. Therefore, let me say I’m sorry for the unfair treatment you have received since that evening. You truly are the epitome of having fun at the old ballpark. Unfortunately, there were too many of us who demonstrated a microcosm of what is wrong with humanity.

I have seen countless replays of you doing what Harry Carry loved to do, and that’s having fun at the old ballpark. You had your Cubs hat on, and although I don’t know for sure, I suspect you were listening to the play-by-play with your headset. Then the best thing happened that can happen to any fan having fun. Your team had a three-run lead, five outs away from the World Series, and a foul ball was served up for you. So you did what every fan does — and the five to seven persons around you did: You attempted to catch it.

That is a time of great joy for an avid baseball fan, and had you brought your mitt, Steve, you surely would have shown the Little Leaguers you coach how it’s done. Those young boys would be bragging now. I can hear it, “Did you see Mr. Steve catch that ball? I’m so glad he’s my coach. Mr. Steve is a great guy. He’s taught me everything I know about baseball.”

Well, it didn’t end that way, did it? We forgot about fun. As the eighth inning unfolded, numerous mistakes were made by our wonderful Cubs after the foul ball. I’m not going to list them because we all saw the game and know what happened. Unfortunately, many of us Cubs fans should be ashamed of our conduct — the beer shower, the spitting, the insults and vulgarities hurled your way and the objects thrown even as you were surrounded and professionally escorted by Wrigley’s security. (By the way, thank you security, thank you Chicago police. You all were very professional in your response to an ugly situation and undoubtedly prevented Steve from suffering undue harm.)

The press has been culpable, too, splashing your name, picture, home and workplace all over the newspapers and Internet and camping outside your residence. What kind of society have we become? I know you’re heartbroken, as you stated, Steve. We all are, but you don’t deserve the burden that you bear. You deserve that vacation in Florida, not to become a Marlinsfan,butbecause Chicagoans love to escape the cold of the Windy City to relax in Florida. And unfortunately, Chicago has become unduly cold to you now. Give it time.

The city will get over it. Take time to reflect on the good life we enjoy in America, unlike our soldiers in Iraq and our friends in the Middle East and other places. You deserve the best wishes of all sports fans, and we need to seriously examine ourselves as a society so richly blessed with each other, possessions, entertainment and rest and relaxation that exceeds what those outside of our country have available.

Again I say, please forgive me. To my other Cubs fans out there: I hope we can all ask for and receive Steve’s forgiveness, because it is all about fun. We need to be a positive influence for those Little Leaguers and other children out there who cross our paths, just as Steve has been. When we all learn how to have fun at the old ballpark, then we will truly enjoy that elusive championship that awaits us. You heard it last night from the mouth of a precious 4-year-old child, Dusty Baker’s son: “The Cubs will win next year.”

JOHN JOSEPH WOTRING IV

Lawton, Okla.

Don’t horse around

Thank you for publishing the column by Christopher J. Heyde about horse slaughter for human consumption (“Horse slaughtering,” Op-Ed, Thursday). He brought up good points about the travesty that our equine pets and companions, as well as high-dollar winners from the track, could end up brutally slaughtered for the profit of foreign-owned companies and to please the palates of other developed countries.

As a horse owner of many years, I am greatly concerned that many of the horses slaughtered are stolen or were sold at auction by people who thought their dear pets were going to new families to love them. Little did those owners know a “killer buyer” was buying the horses for horse meat to ship to France, Belgium and Japan. Many more are America’s mustangs and wild burros, which are supposed to be protected.

Hopefully, this article will motivate Americans who oppose horse slaughter (a majority, according to recent polls) to contact their Congress members and ask them to support and co-sponsor HB 857, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would ban live horse slaughter for human consumption and the export of our horses for this purpose.

MARTHA HAHN

Magic Hollow Farms

Appling, Ga.

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