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Posey For Prez

It’s just a job you know, and it’s not Sweet Lorraine“- Van Morrison

New York Times writer Eric Lichtblau wrote an essay for the August 29 edition commenting on “baseball’s lost innocence.” The piece was inspired by a recent eight-game, six-stadium ballpark tour with his twelve year-old son — a truncated version of a tour Lichtblau himself completed in 1987. In it, he calls out Giants catcher Buster Posey for failing to sign an autograph for his boy after two consecutive attempts, post-game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. This despite the lad’s polite approach and Lichtblau holding a “Posey For Prez” sign over the kid’s head. So disappointed was Junior that he crumpled the sign up and tossed it in a trash can outside Wrigley, concluding that his hero was, in fact, “a jerk.”

I can’t blame a twelve year-old boy for getting down on a player who, up until then, he’d idolized. But Buster Posey seems an odd choice for the old man to single out in the New York Times. Anyone who follows the Giants knows he’s the humblest of players, is involved in more community work than anybody on the team, and plays the game “the right way,” never showing an opponent up or calling undue attention to himself despite his considerable talent. When he won the Most Valuable Player award in 2012, they broadcast his reaction from a charity event he was attending at the school his mother works for in Georgia. I don’t know what his policy is with autographs, but in commenting on the article one of the Giants beat writers said he’s “somewhere in the middle,” signing more than some and less than others. Autographs are an odd phenomenon and many who seek them do so strictly for monetary value and resale on Ebay. Some use kids as a convenient device for getting a player’s attention; in this sense Lichtblau may have done his son no favors by holding the sign over his head.

But let’s ignore all of this and just assume it was because Posey was having a bad series. He’s been in a slump of late and the Giants depend upon his bat in a pennant chase. He signs thousands of autographs every year, and even the most prodigious name-scribbler is going to have people he disappoints. This time it happened to be the kid of a guy who has a forum via a prestigious national newspaper, and that guy decided to use this forum to shame Posey. As a baseball fan, it’s a good bet Lichtblau has at least a rough idea of what the 28 year-old Posey makes, and that it dwarfs his salary as a highly-respected scribe. It seems likely that, after experiencing a moment of visceral disappointment in seeing his boy let down, he thought “He isn’t going to do this to my kid and get away with it ..” But the difference between Posey’s ignoring his kid twice amid a crowd of other screaming favor-seekers, and Lichtblau’s decision to write about it, is that in the latter case the guy had plenty of time to think it over. And still he chose Buster Posey as a name suitable for mention in an essay on baseball’s lost innocence.

I’m guessing that Lichtblau doesn’t attract many autograph hounds himself, but his article has generated a lot of response on Twitter and the like. Some of these folks are probably big fans of his Pulitzer Prize-awarded writing .. and yet he doesn’t seem to have time to respond to all of them. Maybe it’s just too overwhelming, or he’s had a few bad days in a row. Or perhaps his son is taking heat from his pals for having crumpled up his ‘Posey For Prez’ sign and thrown it away in a huff — a move he undoubtedly didn’t anticipate being broadcast in the New York Times. Twelve year-old boys can be very cruel that way. (“Aww .. whats-a-matter .. did Buster disappoint you?”) Perhaps the most Lichtblau Sr. ever hit was .182 in his second year of Little League. He did take the time to respond to one supportive tweet with “Thanks. Maybe Buster will be shamed into making amends.” Great lesson there .. the NY Times writer’s kid gets a make-up autograph while the others who were shunned receive nothing. Whatever the case, maybe the better approach to this incident at Wrigley would have been limited to explaining to his kid that our heroes, much like our fathers, sometimes disappoint — even two days in a row — and that getting caught up in the need to ‘make personal contact’ with celebrities and sports figures can occasionally rob us of the joy they generated in the first place. And that none of us is exempt, even if you’re Eric Lichblau’s son.

I have a friend who was a big ‘Sopranos’ fan and she once approached Micheal Imperioli at an autograph signing with a personal story. Imperioli listened intently, asked her for her name, then told her that he wouldn’t forget her. So excited was she at having “made an impression” that she neglected to get his autograph .. so she got back in the short line and was in front of him again only minutes later. “Nice to meet you,” Imperioli said, “.. and what was your name?” Another story I like involved an incident that I read about on an Internet discussion forum where the topic was Sean Penn. Various folks were chiming in with their unfavorable impressions, and one had a contrary experience to relate. “I was at an uncrowded bar in New York and I saw Sean Penn and Van Morrison having a drink together,” this guy wrote. “I approached and explained how I was a big fan of both of them. Sean Penn thanked me politely but Van Morrison told me to ‘fuck off.'” I laughed out loud reading this and it confirmed a thought I’ve held that, despite being a huge fan, I’d never think of approaching Van Morrison for anything. I prefer to catch him performing on stage when I can. The rest of the time I’ll preserve my image of him at a New York bar, having a beer with Sean Penn and Buster Posey.

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  1. miller wrote:

    Nice job, Rick Monaco. Incredible writing. you should gather up a handful of these and send them out. fucking A. Very insightful.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    Thanks Scott. “And sometimes, when I catch that scent of peanut shells and freshly cut grass in the air .. I think back on those lost days of innocence .. and when my dead brother was still alive .. to smell those peanut shells and cut grass .. And bask in the innocence .. not necessarily its smell .. but its feel .. like so many lost peanut shells .. etc etc”

    Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 12:31 am | Permalink
  3. miller wrote:

    “Genius the name is W*****”
    no need to name names here.

    Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

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