Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 3, 2014

STUMPTALK: Some things just aren’t right

By Phillip Chesser
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Some things aren’t right, for example, aluminum baseball bats. The people who introduced aluminum bats should be prosecuted. As one who grew up hearing thunderous zocks! from wooden bats hitting baseballs, I cringe every time I hear the effeminate poink! of an aluminum bat. No wonder fewer children now play baseball. Who wants to listen to that?

When I played ball we had wooden bats. In one league each team had a bag of assorted bats from which we selected our favorite. Needless to say, one bat emerged as the most popular and it wasn’t long before it was broken. After that we had to use less favored bats. That’s probably the reason we now have aluminum bats. Some baseball hating, cost cutting school or college athletic director decided he could save money with aluminum bats. My solution: just as each player buys his own glove and his own spikes, let him buy a wooden bat and help return beauty to the game. 

And speaking of baseball, another thing isn’t right, the designated hitter (DH). He’s the guy who hits but never plays the field. In the American League designated hitters hit in place of pitchers who are generally poor hitters, but not always. Some pitchers hit very well. When I was young my home team Washington Senators had a great pitcher named Early Wynn, who hit so well he was sometime used as a pinch hitter. And baseball lovers know that Babe Ruth began his major league career in 1916 as a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox. Good thing they didn’t have the DH in those days. I always loved both parts of the game, hitting and fielding. I can’t imagine not being able to do both.

Another thing, and this is too much. Some people want to take the violence out of football! I began my football playing days on the elementary school playground, covered with mud after playing tackle without pads. The teachers tried to convert us to touch football, but we tackled when they weren’t looking or on other occasions outside school. In fact, when I first wore pads as a13-year-old junior high team player, I hated them. I had to learn to run, throw, and catch all over again.

Football is played in an environment of violence the way ice hockey is played on ice. Hockey can be played on composite hard surfaces with in-line roller skates but it’s not the same, nor is flag football the same game. Young men learn life lessons playing tackle football that they rarely learn anywhere else. Leave it alone.

Moving on from sports: here’s another thing that’s wrong, and that’s clothing that doesn’t fit. Someone has convinced the producers of shows like Suits and White Collar that otherwise fit looking young men look good in suits that are too small, shirts that appear to choke the wearer, and neckties tied by someone’s five year old child. The last young men I remember with ill fitting suits were the 1964 Beatles, who wore suits from Carnaby Street in London, a look popular with rock and rollers in those days. Of course, at the other extreme we have the “gangsta” look, clothing too big, with trousers way down on the buttocks. Who thinks that looks good? Commenting on this style, the creator of the comic strip Zippy the Pinhead had characters carrying signs that said, “Will work for clothes that fit.”  

Not that women get by without a mention. I also see young women with ill fitting clothing, and these are not poor women. They appear as news readers and weather reporters on television. It seems none can get a suit coat that isn’t pinched and gathered in the wrong places. Then there are those otherwise attractive young women who think that too small hip hugging slacks and too tight, décolleté tops look good. Earth to them: they don’t, especially on those who appear to want to reproduce the plumber working under the sink look.

And not to pick on women but to help. I have always been in favor of freedom for women. That’s why I cannot understand why women continue to think they have to carry fifty pounds of handbag every place they go, especially to the supermarket checkout line. I guess they think fumbling for a check book in a heavy bag increases upper body strength. 

Men have pockets. Women could have pockets (they could leave the check books at home and carry debit cards in their pockets). I know that women with young children need roomy handbags but I still see grandmothers with them. Free the grandmothers! Give them pockets!

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Stumptalk is published weekly in the Crossville Chronicle. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. To contact Stumptalk, email coordinator Jim Sykes at