Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Sept. 9, 2002 / 3 Tishrei, 5763

Bob Greene

Bob Greene
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Baseball's even stupid about 'Casablanca'

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Now you know it, once and for all:

America has no reason to trust baseball.

Oh, the obvious signs have been there for some time:

The disdain shown by the players for the fans; the gouging by the owners on everything from ticket prices to food and beverages to parking; the obliviousness to the concerns of working Americans by the two sides as they are unable to decide how to split up between themselves more money than most people can ever dream of.

That, America is used to.

But this latest piece of evidence . . .

It came out of the mouth of Donald Fehr, the leader of the players union.

In the days leading up to the players' strike deadline, Fehr presented the owners with a new proposal -- something to do with how many years it should take to phase in a revenue-sharing plan.

(I know -- just reading those words makes you want to stay away from Major League ballparks forever.)

But that's not where Fehr tipped his hand. That's not where he inadvertently revealed that he, and everyone involved in this baseball mess, can't even present the most basic facts correctly.

No, Fehr showed his willingness to say day is night, to say hot is cold, to say black is white, when . . .

This is what happened:

An attorney for the owners expressed surprise and outrage at Fehr's revenue-sharing timetable (that's how these guys spend their hours -- they're involved in one of the most beautiful games ever invented, and they're always expressing shock and outrage about numbers and dates.)

Anyway, the owners' attorney said he was shocked.

And Fehr, trying to be snidely dismissive of the owners' attorney, told reporters:

"Whoever the bar owner was in `Casablanca' was shocked to find gambling too."

That's the exact quote, as reported by the Associated Press, the most trustworthy news organization in the world.

Listen: It's one thing for Major League Baseball to taint and screw up the game that millions of Americans grew up loving.

But when you taint "Casablanca," that's going too far. Some things are sacred.

Where to start when dissecting Fehr's wrongness?

On a minor level, to compare, as he did, what he and the owners are arguing over -- dollars and bookkeeping tricks -- to what "Casablanca" was about -- a world at war and the power of undying love -- is bad enough.

But Fehr--the attorney for the players, who is supposed to pride himself on his command of even the tiniest details--got the whole thing dead wrong. Perhaps the most beloved movie in the history of American filmmaking, and he can't even get that right.

Forget, for a moment, what Fehr reveals about his grasp of Americana -- what he reveals in that first phrase:

"Whoever the bar owner was in `Casablanca' . . ."

Whoever the bar owner was?

The bar owner was Humphrey Bogart, Mr. Fehr. He played Rick Blaine. Not exactly an actor or a role to slip the average American mind.

But the rest of Fehr's statement:

"Whoever the bar owner was in `Casablanca' was shocked to find gambling too."

Where to even begin? It wasn't the bar owner -- it wasn't Bogart. It was the crooked prefect of police in Casablanca, Capt. Louis Renault, played by Claude Rains. The Nazis want Rick's bar shut down; Capt. Renault, an inveterate gambler in Rick's back room, orders it done.

Rick says to Capt. Renault:

"How can you close me up? On what grounds?"

Capt. Renault says: "I'm shocked -- shocked! -- to find that gambling is going on in here."

A croupier interrupts Capt. Renault to say: "Your winnings, sir."

Capt. Renault, taking his gambling money, says: "Oh . . . thank you, very much. Everybody out at once!"

Fehr gets it exactly backward. He thinks Bogart is the bad guy. He can't even get "Casablanca" straight.

Somehow, we are not shocked.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. His latest book is Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen. (Sales help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.

Bob Greene Archives

Up

© 2002, Tribune Media Services