Hall of Fame president and former Reagan lackey Dale Petroskey today used Catch-22 doublespeak to defend his decision:
"I wish that the reasoning had been better articulated so it could have been better understood. What we were trying to do was take politics out of this. We didn't want people to espouse their views in a very public place, one way or another. The Hall isn't the place for that.''
Who articulated it in the first place? The hypocrisy of the last two sentences was clearly lost on Petroskey.
Speaking of articulating, he also released a statement:
As much as The Hall of Fame honors our armed forces, this institution should never be used as a platform for public pro-war sentiments -- nor public anti-war sentiments. Given the track record of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, and the timing -- with our troops committed in Iraq -- a strong possibility existed that they could have used The Hall of Fame as a backdrop for their views.
Mr. Robbins and Ms. Sarandon have every right to express their opinions. But The Baseball Hall of Fame is not the proper venue for highly charged political expressions, whatever they may be.
So the assumption is that Robbins and Sarandon have some sort of anti-war Turrets syndrome: it's completely uncontrollable and pops up at the worst moments. Petroskey made this assumption without speaking to the individuals involved. What does he have ESP or something?
Both Sarandon and Robbins have said that they were planning to go to the event to celebrate the film and baseball in general. Petroskey is the one who brought the war into it. Remember, the guy who said, "this institution should never be used as a platform..."?
Meanwhile, writer Roger Kahn has now cancelled his appearance at the Hall this summer. He summed up extremely well the contradiction inherent in the Hall's position":
"By canceling the Hall of Fame anniversary celebration of 'Bull Durham' for political reasons, you are, far from supporting our troops, defying the noblest of the American spirit. You are choking freedom of dissent. How ironic. In theory, at least, we have been fighting this war to give Iraqis freedom of dissent.
"But here you, through the great institution you head, have moved to rob Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Ron Shelton of that very freedom. In support of the American right to dissent, I have no choice but to cancel my August speaking appearance at the Hall.''
The popular saying holds that any publicity is good publicity, but maybe not for a beleaguered sport that was trying to get back on its feet this season. The result of all this is that the Hall of Fame no longer represents apolitical, carefree nostalgia to many people. If it wants to save face, it must relieve Petroskey of his duties at once. Given that they are mostly PR-related anyway, he can't perform them effectively now anyway even if they don't find his actions morally reprehensible. Or just have Nuke Lalush bean him with a fastball.