Monday, November 2, 2009


Things used to be so simple.

You wanted to run on the cross-country team, you trained and ran, and on meet day, you put on some shorts and running shoes and ran like a sonofagun.

You played baseball, and someone got hurt with a batted ball, and that was too bad, but you took it as part of life's roulette wheel of chance and risk.

Last week in our county, there was a cross-country meet, and the winning team from Hereford High had the victory taken away from them because one of their runners was wearing compression shorts under his shorts, and the compression shorts - stick with me here - had a stitch on them that was not the same color as the rest of the shorts. So, say he had black shorts, and there was a thin stripe of white thread running down the side of the leg. The runner was DQ'ed, and that doesn't mean they took him to Dairy Queen. They disqualified him.

The people running the competition had no choice but to enforce the rule. To tell you the truth, I can't remember if I read that some other team complained about the shorts or if some official spotted this egregious violation himself. I can't kick either way; that rule is posted somewhere and you have to know the rules.

But I would really like to meet the person or persons who sat in a meeting somewhere and decided that this rule was needed, necessary, and called for, and would become a rule by which all skinny high school cross country team members would either abide or have their hearts broken. I really, really would like to meet this goof or gaggle of goofs. For the love of Pete, have you people nothing better to do than worry about what's on some kid's underwear? As long as it isn't a jet-pack, what's it to you?

The baseball story is a little tougher all around. In 2003, a young man was killed by a batted ball. So, clearly, the bat manufacturer was to blame.

You don't think so? A jury of our peers in Montana would hasten to disagree with you, sirs and madams. These twelve good persons and true just handed $850,000 to the family of Brandon Patch, who was 18 years of age when he was killed by a batted ball in an American Legion ballgame.

To quote from WAVE TV in Louisville:

The Patch family argued aluminum bats are dangerous because they cause the ball to travel faster than those hit off wooden bats. They said Brandon did not have enough time to react after the ball was hit. Although the jury did award the Patch family money saying that H&B failed to place warning labels on the aluminum bats, they also said the bat was not defective.

I'm sitting here typing this to you in my den. Within arms' reach there is a digital camera, many framed photos, a computer with modem, scanner, speakers, etc., and a tabletop lamp. I just checked, and none of these items carry a warning sticker of any sort. If I try to swallow the digital camera to get a better picture of my duodenum than the one I've been carrying around in my wallet, why, I would choke to death, and the good people at Canon better plan on writing a fat check! Photos! If I smash them on the ground and take the jagged shards of glass to open my carotid artery to get a little air in there, somebody's going to make Peggy a rich widow. And I can only hope that no one moves in here and sits at my computer and tries anything funky with it, because there is no warning against ingesting the computer or using it as anything else but a computer!

Listen, the death of this young fellow from the baseball accident was sad and tragic and awful and horrible. But how in the name of blue blazes is the bat company any more responsible for it than the ball company, or the car company that made the car that took the batter to the ball game, to the sponsors of the game, to the owners of the field, and the list goes on? As sorry as I am that the young man died, I am almost as sorry that some person took that family aside and said, "Listen, you deserve money for this!"

Things used to be so simple.

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