Editor's Note: Given our longstanding love of Andy Rooney — we remind you that we own every book Andy Rooney has ever written — we've been trying to avoid any discussion of his recent and now infamous baseball column all week. Alas, inertia has overtaken us. To save our broken heart, we decided to have Rick handle it.)
I'm not sure exactly when Andy Rooney's meter clicked over from whimsical to senile, but clearly it has, and it's time for someone to get him down to The Scooter Store to finally pick out his retirement gift.
Here's his latest "column," culled from The Stamford Times by Fire Joe Morgan, who seems just as baffled by it as I do. Rooney attempts to write about baseball in that familiar homespun, isn't-it-obvious-now-that-I've-pointed-it-out prose that would make even John Madden uncomfortable. But unlike Madden, whose schtick is clearly planned, Rooney just seems to be picking through the rubble of dementia. Some excerpts:
• "I know all about Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, but today's baseball stars are all guys named Rodriguez to me."
• "I also think baseball needs some rules changes, too. For example, the player who starts the game as pitcher should have to play all nine innings without a substitution."
• "I never got taller than 5-foot-9 and didn't make the basketball team in school. I ended up as the backstroker on the swimming team. I was a good swimmer but hated doing laps for practice. The water was always cold and after half an hour in the chlorinated pool my eyes were red and my skin wrinkled. It took the fun out of swimming."
And the glorious closing paragraph:
• "The greatest sports loss of my life was a high school football game. We were undefeated and the game was the last of the season. It ended in a scoreless tie and we were crushed by what seemed like the worst defeat of our lives."
More baffling than The DaVinci Code, I tell you; I half expected an albino assassin to leap from the bushes as I read it. Back in the day, Rooney was a great reporter; he was one of the first journalists to enter Nazi concentration camps toward the end of World War II, for instance, and wrote about it eloquently. Friend to Cronkite and Murrow, he was around when journalism was blazing trails and dared to make a difference. But by allowing himself to be sold significantly past his expiration date, Rooney has made sure that all he will be remembered for, to many, is out-of-control eyebrow growth and a curious wish to see Roger Clemens play shortstop.
It's Hard To Know How To Feel About This [Fire Joe Morgan]