Commentary: I’m at That Age

By Louis Zona

Every once in a while each of us gets a little perturbed about things that we hear, read about or experience firsthand.

We do, however, share a need to get those items off of our respective chests. Like the news that one of the best baseball players of all time, Omar Vizquel, was again overlooked for admission into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If there was a better defensive shortstop over the last 50 years, I’d like to know about him. Omar frankly was as nimble as a ballet dancer in turning the most amazing double plays. And as a hitter, he was, as they, say, “clutch.”

I have to admit that I am prejudiced toward Vizquel because the Butler Institute of American Art was the first museum to exhibit his paintings. That’s right, he is a painter as well.

One story that I can share still is amusing to me so many years later. We had to transport the paintings from Cleveland to The Butler in a van. Accompanying me was Ray George of The Butler staff. As we carried Vizquel’s paintings through his garage and into the van, I noticed a very bright metallic object behind some paint cans on a shelf in the garage.

“Omar,” I asked, “what is that shiny object behind those cans?”

“That’s just one of my Gold Glove awards” he responded.

“Why is it in your garage behind paint cans?”

“Oh,” he answered,” I have lots of them!”

We all know that Omar will eventually be in Cooperstown. Still, it’s frustrating that he did not land there on the very first ballot.

Staying on the topic of baseball, did you hear the news that the Milwaukee Brewers have hired a woman as their new batting coach?

Her name is Sara Goodrum and she has been in professional baseball for some time as a coach, a trainer and in the front office. She will oversee batting at all levels of the Milwaukee Brewers organization.

A friend of mine gets upset when he sees any female near the playing field, even as a television commentator. The fact that one of the referees in the Super Bowl was a woman made him crazy.

But even he had to admit that she did a terrific job and will make it possible for many more women to participate in major sporting events, including the World Series.

Given how poorly my Pittsburgh Pirates have been playing, I’d be open to women running the entire sport and even participating as players. That may never happen but I’d be there cheering them on if the Pirates fielded an all-female team.   

On another topic, I’ve been bothered lately by the fact that I get maybe 100 stations on my cable and darned few that I watch.

A program about women picking out a wedding dress could not be more boring to me. The only thing that could challenge it on the boredom index might be a soccer match between Portugal and French New Guinea.

It bugs me that the cable company wants me to pay to watch stuff that I could not be less interested in viewing. Instead of a remote, maybe it should give us a laser gun to scare off those future in-laws selecting a wedding dress.

And to think that I’m old enough to remember when we were lucky to get a single TV station from that rooftop antenna. Who complained about a test pattern coming on at 11 p.m. and “The Today Show” starring Dave Garroway with his favorite monkey, J. Fred Muggs, on the air at 7 a.m.?

You’ll undoubtedly agree with me on this one. Are you bothered by drivers who seem not to know the difference between merging traffic and a complete stop?

While I did not beep at the guy who stopped instead of merging onto the freeway on my way to work this morning, I must confess to a naughty word coming out of my mouth at 8 a.m. That’s far too early for naughtiness!

And then there’s the age-old question (well, not exactly age-old) as to what constitutes art and what we call music.

You’ve no doubt heard my rant about rap and hip-hop. They are “something,” for sure. But I’m not convinced that they fall under the category of music.

Maybe they are rhythmic poetry or something close to poetry. But I can’t see the likes of Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole injuring a vocal cord on that terrible so-called music.

Maybe I’m just getting to the point in my life that I like what I like. But I ask, how could anyone listen to the amazing voice of Andrea Bocelli and not be moved to tears and then compare it to the sounds of Big Daddy Floyd singing about a prison uprising.  

Perhaps I should be a little more tolerant when it comes to the visual arts such as painting and sculpture. But I sincerely believe that most anything today, including a banana peel and apple core on a gallery floor (not kidding) can be declared a work of art.

One of the most offensive so-called works of art happened in a big city museum where four artists stood scantily clothed at the front door. The four required guests to enter past them. As I said, maybe my age is starting to kick in and my tolerance level in certain areas, including art, is showing itself.

If you don’t quite understand the conceptual art that inspired the group to appear nearly naked at the museum entrance, blame it on the artist Marcel Duchamp.

But Marcel, many decades ago, was at least making the point that art could have a mental component, not just the purely visual – or what he called “retinal art.”

Now it’s your turn. What’s bugging you these days? How about naked people streaking across the football field disturbing the flow of the game? Enough of this naked talk already.