The world’s a mess, but there’s baseball!

By Ron Leir

Well, well, well: the world is in its usual mixed-up muddle of a mess but now, even more so.

Just look at the current state of affairs:

Hackers are sticking it to the NSA – never mind the banks – so maybe our worst James Bondish fear of a purloined nuclear weapon will be realized and we’ll all be learning to love the bomb with Stanley Kubrick.

Trains in New York and environs are derailing at an alarming rate while the P.A. and the governors of N.Y. and N.J. bicker over who should pay for a major bus terminal and please don’t forget about our tunnels.

Earthquakes roil Portugal. And what the heck is going on in Venezuela?

Even the sporting world isn’t immune: the soccer world is dealing with the curse of FIFA corruption and the Knicks are reeling with the latest management morass as Phil Jackson takes his dispiriting leave.

Can we even hope to triangulate, among the President, the Senate and the House, a settlement of a U.S. health care bill that threatens to leave millions of hapless citizens high and dry?

Oh, it’s just too much to bear … particularly when we’re celebrating our beleaguered nation’s birthday this week. But the country’s awful state of affairs really takes the cake, folks.

Is there no relief in sight? No life raft to hang onto? No miracle in the making?

Wait a minute. I nearly forgot. There’s baseball!

The national pastime is always there to restore order in the universe, even if there is chaos in the Yankees bullpen and angst among the ailing Mets’ starting pitchers.

And what’s up with the profusion of homers and strikeouts?

But never mind. That’s what you can expect from the sport that gave us our heroes, imperfect though they may be: Connie Mack and Branch Rickey, Cobb and the Babe, Jackie and Satchel, Spahn and Gibson, Koufax and Drysdale, the Splendid Splinter and Pete Rose.

The list goes on and on. And the endless arguments over who was best at what position are, well, endless.

Now, as we hit the season’s traditional midpoint, the buzz is about the new Yankee sensation, the kid up from Scranton-Wilkes Barre (yes, practically everyone in pinstripes in the New York dugout is from that Triple A team) but I’m talking about His Honor, Aaron Judge, who is on a pace to at least equal the record set by the original Sultan of Swat for homers in a single season, not to mention MVP.

If he can avoid the DL, this young man could be counted on to become the next Bronx Behemoth, capable not only of hitting the longball with the best of them, but hitting for average, swiping bases and Gold Glove fielding.

In my book, the verdict is in – case closed – Judge is the real deal. End of story.

Well, not quite.

Before I close, I did want to mention there’s this bill in the hopper in Trenton that would mandate local school districts to implement a new social studies curriculum, from K to grade 12, to teach kids about how to interact with cops in the wake of a rash of police shootings of unarmed teens around the country.

I wonder if legislation is the best way to influence kids’ behavior toward cops and visa versa.

A better strategy, I believe, is being attempted by communities like Kearny, Belleville and Nutley, for example, with the recent introduction of a “Junior Police Academy,” that puts local cops together with local school kids for a week in the summer on neutral ground.

This week’s issue of The Observer features a look at one of those programs.

It may not be the ideal solution but it’s a step in the right direction and it seems to be a growing trend among communities in New Jersey.

Let’s hope it will help open the door to improved relationships between law enforcement and young people in the years to come.

Happy Fourth!

 

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.