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Anything But Bush League

April 3, 2001



The spring start of the baseball season will receive more than its traditional boost from the current occupant of the White House. Yes, President Bush will throw out the first ball at a major league game (in Milwaukee on Friday night). But he also plans to "T" up the first ball right in his own backyard league.

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Mr. Bush, a onetime aspiring ball player and past owner of the Texas Rangers, apparently can't resist a little promotion of his favorite game. When he first eyed the expansive South Lawn of the White House, the story goes, he had only one thought - a ball field.

Little League kids in Washington will be able to take the field for a game of T-ball - baseball's younger cousin, where the sphere is placed on a plastic "T" for small sluggers. Some Cabinet members may even be on hand to coach at first or third.

But, oh, if only baseball could be as pure and uncomplicated as T-ball on the South Lawn. Lately, the big boys who run and play in the major leagues can't seem to avoid controversy.

A recent major-league decision will expand the height of the strike zone, making more strike-outs possible. And if that isn't enough, player contracts expire at the end of this season, evoking images of walkouts and strikes instead of balls and strikes.

If soaring salaries and miscalled strikes blur the view a little, fans can always turn their eyes toward the pint-size players, where old-fashioned fun still prevails. Maybe that's just what the president had in mind.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor