My friend Dan once remarked of my friend Andy, "Andy's just mad that nobody talks about Paul Bunyan anymore," or something like that. Which was, funnily enough, a really good way to sum up Andy. A man out of time. Bigger than legend. Keeper of a blue oxe. And mad at the world.
Lately I've been thinking of a man who should be often but is rarely, if ever, discussed: Jim Abbott.
When I was younger, I used to collect baseball cards. By far, I had more cards of Jim Abbott than any other player. Lest you think I was a sentimental sap who was inspired by the man's incredible disability, the truth of the matter was that the acquisition of his numerous cards was a sound financial investment. I figured that since there had never been a one-armed major-league pitcher before Abott, there more than likely would never be one after him. So far, my theory has proven correct. However, as a result of his (commendable) mediocrity as a big-league pitcher, his cards are worth no more than, say, Shawon Dunston's. But what I really don't get is how people can refrain from talking about Jim Abbott. Forget Lance Armstrong and his one ball. Jim Abbot played baseball and didn't have a hand! Let's give the man his due respect and start speaking his name in public places - officially shouting it on high. I think we should even try to introduce the word "Abbott" as shorthand into our modern lexicon, a word meaning "a successful attempt to achieve a great accomplishment against greater odds." In addition to his past acheivements, I have no doubt that the man remains an inspiration, I'm sure, to literally fives of one-armed kids on little-league teams throughout the country.
My advice to those kids: try soccer?
Yeah, Jim, I do think bunting would be a good idea.