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The World Series

"It is not enough to fight. It is the spirit which we bring to the fight that decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory." -- Gen. George C. Marshall (1948).

By Frank Gruber

The editor and publisher of the Lookout, Jorge Casuso, is a "just the facts" kind of guy and rarely expresses an opinion in public about anything, but he did let on during the recent World Series that he was rooting for the Yankees.

Turns out Jorge is a big fan of fellow Cuban Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and Roger "The Rocket" Clemens, the star Yankee pitcher. I understand the attraction to El Duque, but how can a reasonable person like Jorge be a fan of Clemens, who has been known to throw a broken bat at an opposing player? Fate, however, has more to do with baseball loyalties than reason.

I exercised free will in choosing to root for the Diamondbacks. I say that, but admit that my admiration for Curt Schilling, one of the Diamondbacks' two star pitchers, influenced my choice, and the source of my feelings for Schilling is that he used to be on my favorite team, the Philadelphia Phillies. I was fated to be a Phillies fan by birth.

But I know I exercised free will in rooting for the Diamondbacks because I kept changing my mind. Like many others who typically despise them, I was not immune to the special sentiment in favor of the Yankees this year.

The City of New York took a big hit for all of us September 11.

Further, let it be said, this Yankee team was not the swaggering imperial guard of prior Yankee hegemonies, but instead showed heart. Not the best team in the American League this year, the Yanks provided a lesson in true grit by defeating the superior Oakland Athletics and the mighty Seattle Mariners.

Many times I wavered -- should I switch to the Yanks, who appeared to be the team of both hope and destiny?

Fortifying my initial choice of the Diamondbacks, however, was the loud support my son Henry and his friends lent nearly unanimously to Arizona. They saw the contest in stark terms reflecting schoolyard fairness. The Yankees won too much. It was someone else's turn.

These kids could be intimidating. On Halloween, which was the night of the fourth game of the series, our staging area was the home of our friend Abby Arnold, near Seventh and Marine, an area of Ocean Park that is well-designed for trick-or-treating. About five adults escorted a pack of thirteen kids as they scoured the neighborhood block by block for candy.

When the kids retired to sort and trade their booty on the Arnold floor, in front of the television, we watched the last few innings of the first of the Yankees' miracle victories. These kids did not like "Yankee luck" and they let people know it.

In the face of this racket I wondered if I should oppose Henry's instincts and try to persuade him to root for the Yanks in deference to New York's loss. Were there not bigger issues at stake? The happiness of a great city?

But then I thought, sometimes a parent needs to validate a child's choices. Our influence should only go so far. The fact is, that under my sway Henry is showing signs of becoming a Phillies fan, and if I am going to saddle him with that for the rest of his life, what right do I have to root for the Yankees when he wants the Diamondbacks to win?

Nonetheless, I did not irrevocably take the side of the Diamondbacks until they were down 2 to 1 in the seventh game with but two innings to play, and the formidable Mariano Rivera to face.

When Randy Johnson came in to relieve after the rookie Alfonso Soriano hit a Schilling pitch -- an 0-2 offering nearly in the dirt! -- for a go-ahead home run in the top of the eighth, I realized my personal identification had to be with the craggy veterans the astute Arizona ownership had hired for the precise purpose of winning a World Series championship. These were men late in their careers who had never won a World Series and might never again have the chance. ("Mom, it's not fair!")

Schilling, for instance, left Philadelphia not for money, but because it looked to him (faint-of heart but realistic) as if the Phillies might never again contend, and old Schill wanted a World Series ring.

Don't we all wish from time to time that we could switch teams and land on a winner?

When it was all over, and the Diamondbacks had gained their own miraculous victory, my editor Jorge was briefly unhappy. But once he had thought about it, his analysis was good. He said that perhaps it was for the best that the Yankees had lost, because if they had won, we would be tempted to believe that their series of improbable victories could somehow make whole the tragedies of September 11, or make people expect a sugar-coated Holllywood ending.

Jorge is right. There will be no quick resolutions of any of the quandaries that have arisen from the calamities of 9/11. Thorny problems never have quick solutions. People trying to solve big problems always make mistakes along the way. Other people -- even other people also trying in good faith to solve the same problems -- will always criticize them.

In 1948 Secretary of State George Marshall, our greatest strategist of World War 2 and its aftermath, a man who had had his share of critics yet understood the value of criticism, was mapping out our response to Communism. He is best known for the plan that Harry Truman insisted bear his name, but the Marshall Plan was only part of a larger strategy the State Department articulated of "containment."

In the name of anti-Communism, and because of America's obsession with Communism, we made grave errors both at home and abroad, errors with legacies that bedevil us even today. Yet, the containment of Communism was a good thing, and the long struggle against Communism led to a better world.

Not only that, but the chief beneficiaries of that victory were not Americans, who were already living pretty good lives before the fall of Communism, with more civil and social liberties than ever, but the people who had been our "enemies."

Perhaps it's because of Hollywood's recent obsession with the "greatest generation," but everyone trying to understand our conflict with terrorism -- both those in the government and those criticizing the government -- wants to fit it into the conceptual framework of World War 2: Pearl Harbor, a fight against evil personified, and then victory.

This is a mistake. The better war to use to understand this new conflict is the other war for which George Marshall set the winning strategy, the Cold War -- a long, slow, agonizing war of many campaigns and many mistakes, in which containment will be the first victory.


Downtown Parking Task Force

Monday, November 12, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Ken Edwards Center, 1527 Fourth Street

Santa Monica City Council

The council will hold a joint meeting with the Public Library Board to review and discuss the initial plans for the new main library building.

Among other actions the City Council is scheduled to consider actions proposed by the Bayside District Corporation Board of Directors to protect and foster the appropriate mix of retail, restaurant and other uses on the Third Street Promenade as well as adoption of crosswalk recommendations for 26th Street.
Tuesday, November 13. Meeting starts at 7:00 p.m., at City Hall.

Planning Commission

Review of Revised Draft 2000-2005 Housing Element and Proposed Negative Declaration. Wednesday, November 14, 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, City Hall.

The views expressed in this column are those of Frank Gruber
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Lookout.
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