Are excessive touchdown celebrations in football and bat flips after home runs in baseball nothing more than displays of self-absorbed vanity or just good showmanship? And is your answer to that question a bellwether on whom you will be voting for on Election Day?
All this came to mind when Goose Gossage, an old school Hall of Fame pitcher, got tongues wagging during spring training by commenting on the lack of decorum of the modern player. His case in point: Toronto Blue Jays’ slugger Jose Bautista’s bat flip after a dramatic home run in last fall’s playoffs. Needless to say, back when Gossage was pitching, if a batter did a bat flip after hitting a home run off of him, the next time up against him said batter would have had to remove a 95 mph fastball from his rib cage. Gossage was blunt in his assessment of Bautista, saying, “Bautista is a f–king disgrace to the game. He’s embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. [Yoenis] Cespedes, same thing.”
But 23-year-old National League MVP Bryce Harper, representing the younger generation, argued that baseball is too staid by today’s standards, and things like bat flips are exactly what the paying customers want. “You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair.
This “flair” that Harper none-too-fluently speaks of or what an older generation might call narcissism is on display everywhere in modern America and not just on athletic fields. It is evident in celebrity tweets, and even with John Q. Public who has become addicted to selfies and Facebook pages, which if we are honest are primarily just forums for self-affirmation.
In no arena is “flair” needed more to get ahead than in the world of presidential politics. The days of politicians allowing their records to speak for themselves, if that day ever existed, is now deader than a door nail. It should come as no surprise to us that after months of campaigning and countless debates, that the most likely presidential nominees from each major party are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Both of them has been blowhards for so long, that I doubt a majority of Americans can remember a time when either of them wasn’t in the media spotlight telling us how great he or she is. Judging by the primary results, this type of egotism is what the people want.
All of which bodes poorly for the present state of conservatism. Out philosophical preference, we conservatives tend to shun demonstrative self-aggrandizing. Our liberal counterparts, however, are more “Aren’t I great, look at me change the world” types, quick to go to protests, sit-ins, or any leftist demonstration hoping to get their image on the evening news. Liberals are, unfortunately, in step with our times in this regard.
When it comes to the Oval Office, the majority have spoken. Today, Americans by and large fancy a President with a big personality who is omnipresent in our lives, an Orwellian Big Brother, but with pizzazz. So as the economy stalls and the world falls apart a bit each day and guys like me wonder what in the world is President Obama thinking when he mugs for the camera and slow jams the news like some third rate comic with Jimmy Fallon, upon reflection it becomes obvious he is giving the majority what they want. If, like me, you laughed out loud when you heard Kanye West announce he was running for President in 2020, don’t laugh too loud, as he may just give Hillary Clinton a run for her money in the Democratic primaries.
As much as it pains me, my words of wisdom to those among us who are just starting out in this world and seek to be considered successful are as follows: regardless of the accomplishment no matter how small or trivial, whether at work or in your personal lives, by all means call attention to yourself and do your own personal touchdown dance or bat flip and tell the world repeatedly and loudly how absolutely great you are. If you do, the world will beat a path to your door.
As for the conservative movement, it’s beginning to look like another four years in the wilderness.