Norman Solomon’s Column
A few summers ago, baseball’s All-Star Game inspired me to compile a roster of the nation’s foremost media players. Now it’s that time of year again; I’ve reviewed my lineup of media stars — and guess what? Except for the designated hitter, they’re all still at the top of their games!
So, here is America’s beloved Media All-Star Team of 2001:
STARTING PITCHER: Cokie Roberts
Tossing a classic mix of curveballs and changeups, Roberts can baffle anyone with more than a superficial knowledge of American history. Her delivery, like her wisdom, is utterly conventional.
RELIEVER: Christopher Matthews
The spinning pitchman of “Hardball” on cable television, Matthews currently makes frequent use of the spitter when the wind is at his back. Formerly a nominal lefty, he is now proudly ambidextrous.
CLOSER: George Will
This hurler has cultivated an elaborate windup. Yet he can also throw a mean fastball from a stretch position. Will specializes in wide curves that nick the right edge of the plate. Catchers dread handling his arch knuckler — and sometimes get embarrassed when Will argues that even his wild pitches are strikes. If riled, he resorts to the beanball.
LEADOFF BATTER: Jim Lehrer
His lackadaisical “NewsHour” style belies the fact that Lehrer is adept at the well-placed bunt and beats many throws from across the diamond. Boosted by multi-year endorsement contracts from the agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland, he’s an excellent corporate-team player.
CLEANUP BATTER: Dan Rather
Off at the crack of a bat, Rather can stretch a cliche into a stand-up triple. He often hits line drives up the middle.
DESIGNATED HITTER: Patrick Buchanan
Known as a “Ty Cobb wannabe” for his flashing spikes and surly manner, this slugger always swings for the fences. Crouched far to the right side of the plate, Buchanan doesn’t seem to mind that he rarely connects. Dugout mates say he complains that batting was much more enjoyable before the days of Roy Campanella. (Although Buchanan has been benched a lot lately, he remains a media all-star because many key players go back a long way with him.)
CENTER FIELDER: Barbara Walters
This consummate pro has decades of experience playing shallow center field. While she defends her turf in the sunny outfield, observers have become heavy-lidded to the point of somnolence.
LEFT FIELDER: Michael Kinsley
Affable and almost erudite, Kinsley has the unfortunate habit of roaming the middle of the outfield for most of each game, thus leaving vast expanses vacant. Some people swear that he has never come near the left-field line, even to snag a simple pop-up.
RIGHT FIELDER: Rush Limbaugh
Limbaugh, who likes to hug the right-field line, boasts of many putouts in foul territory. However, he is rued by umpires, who find him abusive and prone to hallucinations.
SHORTSTOP: David Gergen
At bat, Gergen is a deft switch hitter. Wearing a mitt, he’s a fast man in the pivot — able to pull off a double play with dazzling agility that makes all his maneuvering look easy. Fans marvel that he always seems to land on his feet.
CATCHER: Mike Wallace
This seasoned receiver knows how to call the signals without antagonizing the front office.
PINCH HITTER: Katie Couric
Nice and savvy enough to be safe when it counts, Couric makes every “Today” look professional, even when sliding around without purpose.
MANAGER: Bill Gates
If winning is the bottom line and sharing can be understood as market share, then Gates is a great guy to run the team.
TEAM OWNER: Rupert Murdoch
He has a reputation as a foxy mogul with plenty of acumen. But some players grumble that Murdoch’s team is weakened by his refusal to allow southpaws on the mound.
STADIUM: Disney-AOLTimeWarner-NewsCorp–GeneralElectric-Viacom Park – The media All-Stars wouldn’t think of playing the game anywhere else.