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Barry Elzey Could Teach Us a Good Lesson Today
I spent the good part of last month at the Optimist Club Diamonds in Sunset Park, observing a good number of baseball and softball games played by youngsters from this community.
I thought about the impact that the late Barry Elzey has had on the kids of this area over the past 35 years.
During the recent playoffs at those diamonds, I remembered a conversation I had with Barry in May of 1973. I remembered it well because I was getting ready to play my first Pony League baseball game, and had never faced a pitcher who threw a curve ball. I asked Barry for advice.
It wasn’t exactly a long, drawn-out conversation. It went something to the effect of, “You have to see it for what it is. The curve is in the wrist.
“You watch the ball from the second it leaves his hand. You’ll see the curve coming in his wrist action. The fastball won’t have that wrist action. As soon as he releases the ball, you’ll see it for what it is.”
It sounded simple, and at the time, it was.
As I left the ballpark, I stopped at one of the gas stations in Knightstown. The clerk on duty had just been victimized by a drive-off, in which a potential paying customer changes their mind and decides to drive away without paying for the gas they had just pumped.
It wasn’t the first, and it probably won’t be the last. Every gas station clerk I’ve spoken to over the past few weeks has experienced the same problem of having to explain to their boss they had one or multiple drive-offs.
Some of those clerks have also suffered outright abuse by irate customers, who are sick and tired of paying more than $3 per gallon for gasoline.
So they take their frustrations out on the clerk, of course. I shamefully admit, I’ve complained to clerks about gas prices, too.
My daughter is a Gas America assistant manager. She had one customer literally throw his credit card at her, hitting her in the face.
Before I left the convenience store that day, I overheard two women complaining about how their children were overweight, and the problem was McDonald’s, not the bait shop, but the fast-food giant. Unfortunately, that’s about the only food they could get the kids to eat, and the women agreed they should sue McDonald’s.
On my way to my car, I was confronted by yet another person that initially wanted to talk about who would be the next KHS basketball coach. The conversation turned to The Banner and its coverage of school-related issues. This person didn’t like some of the negative things the newspaper had published over the last few years. It’s a conversation I’ve had with a couple of other people over the months.
As I drove away, my thoughts returned to that chat I had with Barry Elzey nearly 35 years ago. It would be interesting to apply his curve ball theory to some of the challenges and frustrations we face every day.
I thought about those two women in that convenience store. Why are so many of today’s kids overweight? I don’t think its McDonald’s or those SpongeBob Cheez-It crackers, or those 40,000 television ads per year that promote fatty foods to young viewers.
“Seeing it for what it is,” would more likely reveal a lack of exercise combined with an improper diet. Too many hours in front of the video games and too much junk food that we, as parents, are allowing are the more likely culprits.
Should we blame the clerk in the National Road BP for how much a gallon of gas is costing us? “Seeing it for what it is,” would make us understand that the clerks, and the gas station, aren’t making any more money per gallon today than they were when gas was less than $2 per gallon.
Should we blame the newspaper for reporting to the public when lawsuits are filed against government agencies, or school corporations are facing $600,000 deficits? Should they have hidden the truth and reported the corporation actually had a surplus, or that the lawsuits hadn’t been filed, thereby keeping bad news out of the paper?
“Seeing it for what it is,” reveals that CAB and area town councils haven’t always done things right, and we’re paying the price for that today.
In blaming television for overweight kids, clerks for high gas prices, and the newspaper for bearing bad news, we’re missing the point. We are barking up the wrong tree, or being all wet, or firing into the wrong flock … you pick one.
What’s worse, we’re finding our scapegoat. We need someone to blame.
I can come up with a lot of those. How about whipping boy, goat, dupe, fall guy, sucker, target, victim, mark, sacrifice, fool, lamb to the slaughter, sap, schlemiel, stooge, easy pickings, chump, jay, mark, patsy, pigeon, cinch, doormat, pushover, sitting duck, boob, can-carrier, easy mark, turkey … you get the point.
If you don’t, you aren’t seeing it for what it is.
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