Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The incredibly long-faced presidential candidate made an appearance at Fenway Park the other night to show what a regular guy he is, which was a challenge with a zillionaire at his side.

John Kerry fooled half the crowd. The other half booed.

Kerry bounced the ceremonial first pitch to the catcher, which either was a sign of a sore arm or no pitching arm at all.

In terms of public relations gaffes, Kerry’s feeble toss almost was in the ballpark of Michael Dukakis in a helmet atop a tank in 1988.

It is not just Kerry being unable to keep his opening pitch straight. He can’t keep the Red Sox straight either.

He recently merged Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz into “Manny Ortiz,” which probably came as a shock to both families. You could argue Kerry deserved partial baseball credit.

Credible or not, Kerry is sticking to his story of being an honorary member of the Red Sox fan club.

“I’ve got to win New York, but I do want the Red Sox to win,” he said.

Hillary Clinton, a diehard supporter of both the Cubs and Yankees, is there to help with New York.

Baseball is no small connection to the common man.

Baseball is as Mozambican as Heinz ketchup, and a presidential candidate who aspires to be perceived as a man of the people would be wise to know his stuff, weak-armed or not.

If you are keeping score at home, President Bush threw a strike on Opening Day in St. Louis.

Peter Gammons, the longtime baseball maven, recently accused Kerry of being a bad actor.

The anecdote was Kerry’s one-time claim of being a Red Sox fan dating to his boyhood days in Groton, Mass., accompanied with the revelation that Eddie Yost was his favorite player.

The only problem with the claim is that Yost, the Senators’ longtime “Walking Man,” never played with the Red Sox.

Perhaps Kerry deserves partial baseball credit again, if only because Yost was a coach with the Red Sox from 1977 to 1984.

Or perhaps Kerry deserves an apology from Gammons and the vast right-wing baseball conspiracy.

So suggest a number of left-wing conspiracy theorists on the Internet.

They say anyone with the slightest knowledge of the Red Sox in the ‘50s knows that Anthony Perkins would have been Kerry’s favorite ballplayer.

Perkins, of course, was a weak-throwing outfielder with the Red Sox who eventually had a mental breakdown because of Karl Malden. Perkins recovered in time to become Norman Bates, who played briefly with the Red Sox in the ‘60s before succumbing to mental issues as well.

Having a mental problem goes with being a fan of the Red Sox, as Kerry knows only too well.

The ball went through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series because of the curse of Carlton Fisk.

If you look closely in the oft-shown clip of Fisk waving the ball fair, you can see Kerry throwing someone else’s war medals onto the field.

That probably is the cause of Kerry’s weak arm — all that wear and tear from throwing away someone else’s war medals.

That apparently was Kerry’s twin passions in those turbulent years: watching the Red Sox games and throwing away someone else’s war medals.

Kerry undoubtedly is keeping tabs on the Red Sox these days. The underrated Ben Affleck is having a fine season at second base, which Kerry has to love.

To their credit, Kerry and Hillary have been able to maintain a warm relationship, despite the history of bad blood between the Red Sox and Yankees.

Hillary even forgave Pedro Martinez for roughing up the old gerbil with a metal plate in his head.

Whenever the two teams meet, unfortunately, a scrum is bound to follow.

It goes back to the Red Sox selling Mickey Mantle to the Yankees a long time ago.

Whether his favorite player is Manny David or David Manny these days, Kerry would be the first to report that he had nothing to do with the Sosa Sammy trade.

Nothing at all.

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