Saturday, December 04, 2010

Missile Malpractice

New START needs clarification.

By Andrew C. McCarthy
December 4, 2010 4:00 A.M.

Show me where in the Constitution it says the government — created by the people in order to serve the people — is empowered to mandate that those selfsame people buy health insurance as a condition of living and breathing in the United States.

That was the pointed demand put to Democrats during the Obamacare debate. You remember those months: threats and bribes for every wavering moderate on their side of the aisle, while Republican opposition was steamrolled with accounting voodoo and parliamentary tricks that would have made Saul Alinksy blush. And what was their answer on the Constitution? Why, it was right there in the preamble, they told us. It expressly says, in black and white, that it is government’s job to “promote the general Welfare.”

This was absurd, of course. The preamble? Never had it been understood to have the meaning ascribed by Obamacare proponents, nor to have such potent force. Preambles are just hortatory and self-justifying, right? It is the subsequent articles, terms, and conditions that have the force of law. Oh no, countered Democrats: The preamble is basic, foundational to our understanding of everything that follows — and “promote the general Welfare” couldn’t be clearer. It was the license, we were to believe, for Leviathan to take over one-sixth of the private economy.

So, now comes the ludicrous strategic arms–reduction treaty (“New START”) with Russia that President Obama is curiously desperate to ratify before more Republican senators arrive on the scene next month. What does the president say about the treaty language that clearly straitjackets U.S. missile defense, holding our security in an ever more threatening world hostage to Soviet — er, sorry, I mean Russian — offensive capabilities?

He tells you, Don’t worry about it: That’s just the preamble. Doesn’t mean anything.

With his own credibility in tatters, the president has taken to channeling Ronald Reagan as he campaigns for New START. In that spirit, we should note that there are countless good reasons, substantive national-security reasons, for the senate to Just Say No. But how about we go with just two basic points, neither of which requires you to be an expert in telemetry or to know your ICBMs from your AMRAAMs? Let’s just focus on credibility and competence.

On New START, as on many other matters, the Obama administration has demonstrated that it is not to be trusted. That’s bad — no matter who the president is, we want to be able to credit him on vital issues of national defense. Nevertheless, when we hear these incessant Democratic invocations of the Gipper’s bon mot, “Trust but verify,” we ought to be thinking Barack Obama, not Vladimir Putin.

Trusting the Russian strongman is out of the question — wasn’t it only about ten minutes ago that President Bush was wiping egg off his face as the “strategic partner” whose soul he thought he had peered into rolled Red Army tanks into the heart of Georgia? But if we are going to trust Obama, we have to verify. The president notoriously says whatever he thinks he needs to say to achieve his objectives, and, with START in particular, the administration’s behavior has been abominable.

There is, as noted, the topsy-turvy matter of preambles. As National Review’s editors have pointed out, the New START preamble plainly touts “the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms.” It further purports to cement for all time the current posture of this purported interrelationship, asserting that “current strategic defensive arms do not undermine” stability, and that the “interrelationship” between missile offense and missile defense “will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced.” That is, the more we shrink our inventory of strategic nukes — the point of New START — the less latitude we will have to beef up our defense against missile attacks.

Let’s leave aside the patent stupidity of this theory, shown by (to take just a few examples) the fact that we will face far more worrisome nuclear threats than Russia in the future, the ample historical experience proving that reductions in U.S. missile levels do not (as Mr. Obama insists) discourage rogue governments from developing their own nukes, and the obvious conclusion that there is no necessary interrelationship between Russia’s offensive capabilities and our defensive needs (for ourselves and for the protection of our allies, a problem Russia doesn’t have) — which is why, former UN ambassador John Bolton recalls, the Bush administration wisely decoupled these considerations. Let’s even ignore for the moment the flat-out lunacy of agreeing that our future security somehow hinges on maintaining Russia’s ability to attack us. Quite apart from all that, there remains the simple matter of the treaty’s text.[1]

For the Russians, this is the ballgame. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov issued an unambiguous statement at the time the treaty was signed pronouncing the limitations on U.S. missile defense to be “clearly spelled out in the treaty” and “legally binding.” And why not? Besides the preamble, the treaty expressly prohibits offensive-missile launchers from being converted into defensive-missile interceptors. Moreover, beyond START’s own language, the Heritage Foundation’s Baker Spring observes that, in its February 2010 report on ballistic-missile defense, the Obama administration explicitly limited the program in order to maintain the strategic balance not only with Russia but with China, too. [2]

In the face of all this evidence, the Obama State Department counters that New START imposes “no constraints on deploying the most effective missile defenses possible.” This just mulishly repeats the absurd denials of Ellen Tauscher, State’s big mahoff on arms control, which are captured in former Defense Department official Keith Payne’s recent NRO essay: “The treaty does nothing to constrain missile defenses…this treaty is about offensive strategic weapons”; “There is no limit or constraint on what the United States can do with its missile defense system”; and “There are no constraints to missile defense.” No, of course not…and the voice in the back of my head keeps chanting, “If you like your health insurance, you get to keep your health insurance!” [3]

It’s a tad late in the day for the president to argue that he’s still your honey, so never mind what your lyin’ eyes and ears are telling you. But even if that weren’t true, the Obama administration never disappoints when it comes to your worst suspicions. Despite serial denials, some issued in congressional testimony by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Washington Times’s Bill Gertz reports that an internal State Department memo documents — surprise! — extensive secret talks between the Obama administration and the Russians regarding missile defense. Turns out the administration even proposed a draft treaty on missile-defense cooperation, notwithstanding its assurances that no such deal was in the works.

Which is all to say that Obama administration posturing cannot be taken at face value. That would probably be true in any case. It is especially true when (a) the stakes involve national security; (b) the language of the treaty cuts against the posturing; (c) the administration has already been caught playing fast and loose with pertinent facts; (d) Obama not only is philosophically opposed to robust missile defense but has actually reneged on missile-defense commitments the nation made to Poland and the Czech Republic; and (e) the other party to New START is publicly insisting on an interpretation of treaty terms that flies in the face of the administration’s stated construction.

Russia’s contradiction of the administration brings us to the second basic problem with New START: the failure to meet the minimal demands of competence. A treaty is like a contract between two parties that happen to be sovereign nations. A contract is a meeting of the minds on essential terms. When contracts get breached, it is usually because the parties thought they understood each side’s obligations when they signed, but some latent ambiguity unexpectedly led them to construe their obligations differently and defy each other’s expectations. That’s when the lawyers start getting sued for malpractice, for failing to make sure the terms were crystal clear.

Contrast that situation with New START, which is unratified — meaning it’s not a contract yet, just a proposal. We don’t have to wait for a breach: We already know there is galactic disagreement between what Russia and the Obama administration say the treaty portends for missile defense.

So here’s a question for Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and other lawyer-senators who are said to support ratification: If it would be malpractice to counsel a client to sign an ambiguous contract that unexpectedly leads to a messy breach, what word should we use for the incompetence involved in counseling a country to enter a treaty about which we know, going in, that there are irreconcilable differences on the key point? Inexplicable? Reckless? Disbarment material?

If the Obama administration’s representations about New START’s benign treatment of missile defense are true, what could possibly be the problem with telling the president to go back to the Russians with a codicil that says exactly what the State Department has been telling us? You know: “Mr. Medvedev, just sign this piece of paper that says there are absolutely no limitations on U.S. missile defense and that you have no idea what Mr. Lavrov had been drinking when he said otherwise.”

At a minimum, the Senate ought to demand searching testimony and every iota of the negotiation record. Our security would be important enough to demand that in any event. What could possibly be the reluctance to demand it in a case where the parties are already at odds and the administration has a sorry history of making misrepresentations and stonewalling the inquiries that inevitably follow?

There is no reason to rush New START. It is an unnecessary treaty, and that which is unnecessary to do is even less necessary to do hastily.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.





Friday, December 03, 2010

A ‘Never Mind’ Energy Policy

When will President Obama admit he supports energy rationing?

By Jonah Goldberg
December 3, 2010 12:00 A.M.

“Never mind.” That, in a nutshell, is the White House’s new position on domestic oil exploration. In March, President Obama announced that he would allow — or at least entertain the possibility of — some new oil development off the Atlantic Coast and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This week he reversed himself, saying such exploration is now off the table for at least five years.

President Barack Obama tours the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Fla. in 2009. (Photo by Gerald Herbert ./ AP)

Only the most black-hearted cynics among us would even contemplate the notion that Obama had his reelection prospects in, say, Florida in mind when he made his decision. Then again, some believed that Obama’s initial decision to consider expanded oil exploration was a political pander, too. So let’s assume sincerity all the way down the decision tree.

The real problem with the White House’s attitude toward oil, and energy generally, is how deeply ideological it is. Few presidents have talked a bigger game about pragmatism while pursuing a dogmatic agenda.

To be fair, the White House is hardly as radical as many of the greens descending on Cancun this week for the next round of fruitless climate-change talks. For instance, Kevin Anderson, director of Britain’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, recently authored a paper in which he argued that Western nations should use WWII-style rationing to simply halt economic growth for the next 20 years in order to curb greenhouse-gas production. There’s a winning political agenda!

Obama doesn’t advocate anything so stark, but that’s not necessarily a point in his favor. Radicals like Anderson are honest about the trade-offs between climate-change policies and economic growth. To listen to Obama, however, dismantling our fossil-fuel industries would be an unalloyed economic boon, generating countless lavish, rewarding green jobs that would replace those dirty, icky carbon-intensive jobs. It’s not just an argument for a free lunch; it’s an argument for a magic free lunch.

Obama admits he has no idea how to get to this Brigadoon-like green economy, and his energy secretary has conceded it will take quite a few Nobel Prize–worthy scientific breakthroughs to even get close. Details, details.

The only detail missing is the evidence. A friend of mine ran a painting service in college whose unofficial motto was “We may be slow, but we’re expensive.” That’s the story of Europe’s pursuit of green jobs. They’re inefficient, producing meager amounts of energy at high costs.

It wasn’t supposed to work like this. According to Al Gore, we were going to have an energy version of Moore’s Law. (Although it is not actually a scientific law, Moore’s Law refers to the trend of computers to get twice as powerful every 18 months.) Gore argued that solar cells and wind power would get drastically more efficient very quickly. Nothing like that has happened or is likely to happen, as the University of Manitoba’s Vaclav Smil has demonstrated at great length. Transitions from one form of energy to another, Smil writes, are “inherently protracted affairs” requiring “decades, not years.” And let’s remember that Gore once insisted that ethanol subsidies were a fast track to a green economy. He said, in effect, “Never mind” about that last month.

Obama won’t admit it, but his moratorium is simply supply-side rationing. America should deny itself economic growth despite the fact that it has potentially massive oil reserves. Democrats uniformly insist they are fixated on creating good jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. But they’re actually intent on killing oil-industry jobs, which by definition cannot be sent overseas and also pay twice the national average.

Meanwhile, it’s becoming clear that the U.S. could be the Saudi Arabia of cleaner-burning natural gas, with an estimated 100-year supply of the stuff (and possibly more). And yet roadblocks to natural-gas development grow by the day. We could make realistic progress on reducing our carbon emissions if we set about replacing coal with natural gas. (At minimum we could and should phase out mountaintop-removal coal mining, a change that, among other things, would make natural gas more competitive.)

Of course, greens say that climate change trumps such considerations, and that’s a principled argument — flawed in my view but principled. But mainstream politicians and pundits with the courage to make the principled case for rationing are hard to come by.

I’d have a lot more respect for Obama if he came out and said, “You know all that stuff I said about doing everything possible to create good jobs here at home and get this economy moving again? Well, never mind.”

— Jonah Goldberg is an editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. © 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

WikiLeaks founder Assange ought to be hiding from America

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
Friday, December 3, 2010

In this Nov. 4 file photo, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange takes his seat during a news conference at the Geneva press club in Geneva, Switzerland.
(Martial Trezzini/AP Photo/Keystone/File)

It is understandable for the administration to underplay the significance of the WikiLeaks State Department cables. But while it is wise not to go into a public panic, it is delusional to think that this is merely embarrassing gossip and indiscretion. The leaks have done major damage.

First, quite specific damage to our war-fighting capacity. Take just one revelation among hundreds: The Yemeni president and deputy prime minister are quoted as saying that they're letting the United States bomb al-Qaeda in their country, while claiming that the bombing is the government's doing. Well, that cover is pretty well blown. And given the unpopularity of the Sanaa government's tenuous cooperation with us in the war against al-Qaeda, this will undoubtedly limit our freedom of action against its Yemeni branch, identified by the CIA as the most urgent terrorist threat to U.S. security.

Second, we've suffered a major blow to our ability to collect information. Talking candidly to a U.S. diplomat can now earn you headlines around the world, reprisals at home, or worse. Success in the war on terror depends on being trusted with other countries' secrets. Who's going to trust us now?

Third, this makes us look bad, very bad. But not in the way Secretary of State Hillary Clinton implied in her cringe-inducing apology speech in which she scolded these awful leakers for having done a disservice to "the international community," and plaintively deplored how this hampers U.S. attempts to bring about a better world.

She sounded like a cross between an exasperated school principal and a Miss America contestant professing world peace to be her fondest wish. The problem is not that the purloined cables exposed U.S. hypocrisy or double-dealing. Good God, that's the essence of diplomacy. That's what we do; that's what everyone does. Hence the famous aphorism that a diplomat is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country.

Nothing new here. What is notable, indeed shocking, is the administration's torpid and passive response to the leaks. What's appalling is the helplessness of a superpower that not only cannot protect its own secrets but shows the world that if you violate its secrets - massively, wantonly and maliciously - there are no consequences.

The cat is out of the bag. The cables are public. Deploring them or trying to explain them away, a la Clinton, is merely pathetic. It's time to show a little steel. To show that such miscreants don't get to walk away.

At a Monday news conference, Attorney General Eric Holder assured the nation that his people are diligently looking into possible legal action against WikiLeaks. Where has Holder been? The WikiLeaks exposure of Afghan war documents occurred five months ago. Holder is looking now at possible indictments? This is a country where a good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. Months after the first leak, Justice's thousands of lawyers have yet to prepare charges against Julian Assange and his confederates?

Throw the Espionage Act of 1917 at them. And if that is not adequate, if that law has been too constrained and watered down by subsequent Supreme Court rulings, then why hasn't the administration prepared new legislation adapted to these kinds of Internet-age violations of U.S. security? It's not as if we didn't know more leaks were coming. And that more leaks are coming still.

Think creatively. The WikiLeaks document dump is sabotage, however quaint that term may seem. We are at war - a hot war in Afghanistan where six Americans were killed just this past Monday, and a shadowy world war where enemies from Yemen to Portland, Ore., are planning holy terror. Franklin Roosevelt had German saboteurs tried by military tribunal and shot. Assange has done more damage to the United States than all six of those Germans combined. Putting U.S. secrets on the Internet, a medium of universal dissemination new in human history, requires a reconceptualization of sabotage and espionage - and the laws to punish and prevent them. Where is the Justice Department?

And where are the intelligence agencies on which we lavish $80 billion a year? Assange has gone missing. Well, he's no cave-dwelling jihadi ascetic. Find him. Start with every five-star hotel in England and work your way down.

Want to prevent this from happening again? Let the world see a man who can't sleep in the same bed on consecutive nights, who fears the long arm of American justice. I'm not advocating that we bring out of retirement the KGB proxy who, on a London street, killed a Bulgarian dissident with a poisoned umbrella tip. But it would be nice if people like Assange were made to worry every time they go out in the rain.

Ron Santo dead at 70

Chicago Cubs icon failed to reach Hall of Fame

By Paul Sullivan
The Chicago Tribune
December 3, 2010

Ron Santo (L) and Billy Williams at Cubs' spring training in 1971. (Tribune archive photo)

Legendary Chicago Cubs player and broadcaster Ron Santo died Thursday night in Arizona. He was 70.

Friends of Santo's family said the North Side icon lapsed into a coma on Wednesday before dying Thursday. Santo died of complications from bladder cancer, WGN-AM 720 reported.

The former Cubs third baseman had overcome several debilitating injuries, including the amputation of both legs, to continue to work as a Cubs analyst on WGN, the team's flagship radio broadcast. He was expected to return for the 2011 season.

Despite ongoing health problems, including a lifelong battle with diabetes, Santo never considered giving up his work alongside play-by-play man Pat Hughes. He missed several road trips in 2010 but insisted he would return.

"What else am I going to do?" Santo said during this past season. "Doing the Cubs games is like therapy for me."

Santo was the quintessential Cubs fan and made no apologies for his on-air cheerleading or his utter frustration over a Cub's misplay.

On many occasions, when Santo was upset with the way things were going for the team, a simple grunt sufficed.

"I'm a fan," he explained last summer. "I can't plan what I do. I get embarrassed sometimes when I hear what I said, like, 'Oh, no, what's going on?' But it's an emotion.

"This is being a Cub fan."

Santo never witnessed his longtime goal of election to the Baseball Hall of Fame despite career numbers that mark him as one of baseball's all-time great third basemen. He finished with a .277 average over 15 major league seasons, with 342 home runs and 1,331 runs batted in.

Though Santo came close to Cooperstown enshrinement in the last decade in voting by the Veterans Committee, he always fell short. In 2007, Santo received 39 of the 48 votes necessary to reach the 75 percent threshold of the living 64 Hall of Famers to cast a ballot. His 61 percent lead all candidates and no one was elected to the Hall.

It was the fourth straight time the Veterans Committee had failed to elect a member, leaving Santo frustrated.

"I thought it was going to be harder to deal with, but it wasn't," he said that day. "I'm just kind of fed up with it. I figure, 'Hey, it's not in the cards.' But I don't want to go through this every two years. It's ridiculous."

Ron Santo and Glenn Beckert with their Gold Glove awards in 1968. (Tribune archive photo).

Santo was up for the Hall of Fame on 19 occasions, and first appeared on the Veterans Committee ballot in 2003. He got his hopes up on every occasion.

"Everybody felt this was my year," he said after the last vote in December 2008. "I felt it. I thought it was gonna happen, and when it didn't. ... What really upset me was nobody got in again.

"It just doesn't make sense."

Santo was consistent that he did not want to make a posthumous entrance into the Hall of Fame. After being denied so many times, he was resigned to what is now the only possibility.

"(Induction) wasn't going to change my life," he said. "I'm OK. But I know I've earned it."

Santo was beloved by many Cubs fans and players alike. When he was ill during the 2003 playoffs and couldn't travel with the team, pitcher Kerry Wood hung a No. 10 Santo jersey in the Cubs dugout in Atlanta. The Cubs won Game 5 of the division series to capture their first postseason series since 1945. Wood made an emotional call to Santo afterward, dedicating the game to him.

Wood once made a case for Santo's election to the Hall of Game in an article in ESPN the Magazine, writing: "When it happens, and if the schedule lets us, I'm going to be there for the ceremony. He's the epitome of Chicago baseball. He's still part of the team. He lives and dies with it. In fact, I think we've put him in the hospital a few times. He should get in just for that."

Santo got a laugh from Woods' words and denied the Cubs' play had ever put him in a hospital.

Santo began his major league career with the Cubs in 1960, and spent one season with the White Sox in 1974. He earned National League Gold Glove awards five straight seasons from 1964 to 1968 and was a nine-time NL All-Star. He was one of the leaders of the 1969 team that blew the division lead to the New York Mets, a season indelibly etched in Cubs' history.

Santo never forgot the hurt and hated going to New York thereafter. Before one of his final Cubs-Mets games as a WGN broadcaster in Shea Stadium in 2007, Santo told the Tribune: "I would come back here personally to blow it up. I'd pay my own way. Maybe even just to watch it."

Long after his playing career ended, Santo wound up as a Cubs analyst on WGN-AM 720 in 1990. He was teamed with Hughes in 1996. Santo epitomized the long-suffering Cubs fan, frequently grousing about the play on the field when things went bad.

(Tribune photo by Phil Velasquez / August 2, 2007)
Ron Santo sings a round of "Take me out to the ball game" in the 7th inning stretch of the Cubs vs Phillies game at Wrigley Field.

His most famous call was a simple two-word utterance -- "Oh no!" -- when outfielder Brant Brown dropped a fly ball with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth of a crucial game in Milwaukee in the final week of the 1998 season.

He also suffered through incidents along the way that could seemingly happen only to Ron Santo.

His toupee caught fire in the Shea Stadium press box in New York on Opening Day 2003 after he got too close to an overhead space heater. And last spring in Mesa, Ariz., Santo lost his front tooth while biting into a piece of pizza.

Though Santo never made the Hall of Fame, his number was retired by the Cubs. He said that was equivalent to being inducted in Cooperstown. Being a Cub, and playing at Wrigley Field, meant the world to Santo.

"When I got here, two years after my senior year, I'm walking out of the corner clubhouse with Ernie Banks and there's nobody in the stands, and the feeling I had was unbelievable -- walking with Ernie and walking on that grass," he said. "I felt like I was walking on air. There was an electricity and an atmosphere that I'd never experienced in my life. Any ballplayer that's ever played here can tell you about that great atmosphere, and anybody who's come here to watch a game feels the exact same way."

Remembering Ron Santo

By Phil Rogers
The Chicago Tribune
December 3, 2010

Santo carries his offensive weapons during spring training in 1965. (UPI)

Go ahead, Ronnie.

Click your heels again. Follow a muttered, "Oh, no!'' with stony silence to describe a play that was bungled in true Cub fashion. Tell us what you really think about New York.

Ron Santo is entering a new league, the highest level of all. And there he will never again be betrayed by his passion, his perseverance, his enormous love of life, the joy he found amid more pain and heartache than any dozen men should have to endure.

Bladder cancer reportedly claimed the Cubs' greatest cheerleader, who had battled diabetes for most of his life. He slipped into a coma on Wednesday and died Thursday in Arizona. He was 70, going on 17.

If these things could be measured like runs crossing the plate, the finally tally for Santo would be something like this: Delight 5,410, Bitterness 0.

Well, OK, maybe Bitterness 1.

Santo was never quite sure where to direct his disappointment, but he knew that somebody had screwed him out of his spot in baseball's Hall of Fame, the one he should have reveled in alongside teammates Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins. It was only natural that slight would trouble him as he celebrated a game that he had loved, even as it changed from small-time enterprise into a $7-billion corporation, complete with phonies and drug cheats, like the two he watched match each other home run for eye-popping home run in the summer of 1998.

From Santo's mouth to your ear, seldom was heard a discouraging word, and that's not a bad measure of the man. No matter the heartbreak, no matter the disappointment, no matter the physical challenge, No. 10 always took comfort in one of the greatest truths about baseball: Tomorrow there's another game.

For generations of Chicagoans, Santo was a reminder that light follows darkness. He wasn't the greatest Cub - that distinction belongs to Banks or Greg Maddux - but he was most assuredly the most beloved Cub, and it would have been wondrous to see him celebrate a championship by the team he joined as a 20-year-old in 1960.

You could almost touch that moment in 2003, but Mark Prior and Kerry Wood couldn't close the deal, and not even Lou Piniella and a $144-million payroll could bring back the magic that died in Game 6. No one was more of a comforter for Prior, Wood and Piniella than Santo, who was installed as the team's captain when Banks and Williams were also in the lineup, and who never really stopped serving. He merely exchanged his bat and glove for a microphone.

Cubs great Ron Santo clicks his heels en route to the locker room after his ninth-inning sacrifice fly gave Chicago a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh in 1969. (AP)

In an era before insulin pumps and other innovations of modern medicine, Santo played 15 seasons while battling diabetes, the disease that would eventually claim both his legs before his life. He was scared stiff that it would take him off the field one day, yet he played 2,243 big-league games (all but the last 117 for the Cubs), all the while concealing his illness. He hit .277 with 342 home runs and 1,331 runs batted in. He won five straight Gold Gloves in the 1960s and played in nine All-Star Games.

Bill James, baseball's leading numbers guy, has ranked Santo as the sixth best third baseman of all time, behind only Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs and Home Run Baker. In his book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, he writes that Santo was a better player than most of the third basemen in the Hall of Fame, even though fewer third basemen have been elected to the Hall than at any other position. He concludes his piece saying that "Ron Santo towers far above the real standard for the real Hall of Fame.''

Santo, in my opinion, was excluded for three reasons: His career totals simply weren't gaudy enough; he was placed back onto the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot after being off it for four years, which unintentionally prevented him from ever coming before the old Veterans Committee, and he alienated New York-based BBWAA voters and his fellow players (who would comprise the new Veterans Committee) by clicking his heels after victories at Wrigley Field in the summer of 1969.

Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan recently told me that Santo's heel-clicking rubbed the Mets the wrong way as they reeled in the Cubs. "We didn't think much of that,'' Ryan said last summer. "In those days, people just didn't do those kind of things.''

But Santo wasn't trying to attract attention. He was simply doing what came naturally when overjoyed. The first time he did it, he remembered, was after a Jim Hickman home run capping a four-run, ninth-inning rally against Montreal on June 22, with the Cubs on top of the baseball world.

"I was always an emotional player,'' Santo once said. "I carried my emotions on my sleeve. I ran down the left-field line to our clubhouse and didn't realize I had clicked my heels. That night it was all over television. The next day, when I got to the ballpark, Leo Durocher called [me into his office for] a meeting. He says, 'Can you click your heels again? We ought to make that our victory kick, but only at home when we win.'

"So, from that moment on, when we won at home, I would run down toward our clubhouse doing it. The fans really got into it. I actually got telephone calls from friends on other teams saying, 'Our pitchers don't like that.' My response to them was, 'Too bad.' I ended up getting knocked down a lot, but it didn't matter.''

Not a bad epitaph, is it?

Ron Santo a player unlike any other

Staff Reporter
Chicago Sun-Times
December 3, 2010

To his legions of fans, Ron Santo was more than a Hall of Fame baseball player--even though their beloved Chicago Cubs third baseman was always denied entry.

Even objective baseball observers acknowledged Santo to be "the best player not in the Hall,’’ his career statistics and accomplishments on par with some of the eight third basemen who were enshrined at the time he played--but who had the World Series credentials Santo’s Cubs were denied.

But what Santo had that set him apart from every other position player in the game’s history was a Hall of Fame-type career achieved despite the life-threatening disease of diabetes. No one had ever played the game on a daily basis as an insulin-dependent diabetic.

And almost no one knew he did it.

At a time when living with the disease was far more risky to control for even a layman, Santo managed to not only doctor his life daily but hide the truth from all around him through a 15-year career in which he almost never missed a game.

"I lockered right beside him for years, and I never knew he had this disease,’’ teammate, friend and Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks wrote in the forward to "Few And Chosen,’’ one of several books Santo co-authored. "I remember once after I found out about Ronnie’s diabetes, I mentioned to him that I had a friend who had recently found out she was a diabetic. He told me to call her, and he got on the phone and talked to her and told her what she had to do.

"This was someone he didn’t even know, but he took the time to counsel her, and his talk encouraged her and lifted her spirits.’’

It was something Santo did countless times for countless unknown faces whose only bond with him was the disease. But he treated each as a kindred spirit, and for children afflicted, as a hero to look up to in more ways than one.

"Even before the public disclosure [in 1973-check] that I was a diabetic, I made private visits to local hospitals to visit people with diabetes,’’ Santo wrote in his 1993 biography "For Love of Ivy.’’ "Whenever possible, I try to make a personal call to the children, and I try to relate my experiences. I try to alleviate their fears associated with diabetes.

"Unless you have been young and ill with such a disease, you can’t appreciate the apprehension that can exists in the mind of a youngster in this condition. The stories of courage of the young people I’ve met could fill a book in itself. The children who have juvenile diabetes have a special place in my heart.’’

Though baseball’s Hall of Fame eluded him, Santo’s greater legacy would come from that love and his personal quest to find the cure for them he would never have in his own lifetime.

His annual Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes has raised more than $40 million alone since its inception 1979, though Santo was constantly raising more through golf outings, appearances, donated royalties and appearances.

In 2004, his son Jeff, an independent film maker, aided his father’s charity by donating a major portion of the proceeds from a movie about his father’s life, "This Old Cub,’’ to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. But in making the film, he also gave a gift to his dad, to countless fans who had never seen him play.

The film focused not only on memories of his career, but on the rigors of going through daily life with seeming normalcy despite the extraordinary debility of having both legs amputated caused by diabetes.

It showed, too, the heartbreak Santo felt when he was first rejected by the Hall of Fame veterans committee for induction into Cooperstown, a snub that would come twice more.

But that same season, Santo was embraced in a different way that he later would say meant as much--his No. 10 retired by the Cubs to fly daily at Wrigley Field beside the numbers of his former teammates, Banks (14) and Billy Williams (26), both members of the Hall.

"This is my Hall of Fame,’’ Santo said on Sept. 28, 2003, during Wrigley Field ceremonies that equaled those the team would put on for its later inductee, Ryne Sandberg.

Pure emotion may have been part of the reason for the Cubs’ decision to retire Santo’s number the first time the veterans committee denied him entry, but the facts of his career trumped sentimentality.

On Thursday, the franchise icon died at the age of 70, according to multiple reports.


The best-known number about the Cubs is the team’s near-100 years without a World Series championship.

The other near-100 number the team’s faithful know well is this: 99 different players tried to take over third base in the 30 years after he left the team in 1973.

It was Santo’s position for 15 seasons, 14 of them on the North Side before he accepted a trade to the South Side White Sox in 1974. That move was historic for all of baseball as well as the city, because it instituted what became known as "the Santo rule’’ allowing any player with 10 years experience and five years with the same team to have a say in a trade.

When he left the Cubs, Santo had established historic numbers for the franchise:

--he hit 337 of his career 342 home runs, ranking fourth all-time behind Sammy Sosa, Banks and Williams;

--he drove in 1,290 runs as a Cub and 1,331 in his career and had more than 2,243 career hits;

--he won five consecutive Gold Gloves at his position from 1964-1969 and was selected to nine National League All-Star teams;

--he led the National League in triples in 1964 with 13 and hit .277 overall in his career;

--in 2,130 games as a third baseman he handled 4,581 chances and committed only 317 errors, a .954 fielding average;

--he established major league records for most years leading the league in assists by a third baseman (7) and the most consecutive years of leading the league in assists by a third baseman, later broken by Brooks Robinson, and for most years leading the league in chances (9);

--he set National League records for assists in a season by a third baseman, later broken by Mike Schmidt; most double plays by a third baseman in a career and most chances accepted;

--in 1966, he set a then franchise record by hitting in 28 consecutive games. The streak was threatened at 26 when Santo was hit in the face with a pitch from New York Mets righthander Jack Fisher. He suffered a broken cheekbone and missed almost two weeks. When he returned, he added two more games to the streak and a new piece of equipment to baseball’s arsenal--a helmet ear flap that became standard ever since.

It also marked one of the few times Santo missed playing time on the disabled list for any reason.

In 14 seasons with the Cubs, Santo played in every game or all but one or two seven times, another record.

His durability would have been laudable under normal circumstances, but playing as an insulin-dependent diabetic at a time when monitoring the disease was far more unpredictable, Santo’s career was as remarkable as it was miraculous.


Santo was born Feb. 25, 1940 in Seattle, one of two children whose father left the family when Santo was six. His parents divorced a year later.

"I’m sure the lack of paternal guidance had an impact on my behavior, which wasn’t always great,’’ Santo wrote in his biography. "I got into a lot of trouble.

"My mother wasn’t a big woman, but she could really deck me. Which she did. She had become both mother and father to us, which couldn’t have been easy. Determined to straighten me out, she sent me to a parochial school, even though the high cost made things tight at home.

"Sports saved me,’’ he wrote. "The nuns at the school were pretty good athletes--no Babe Ruths but good enough--and we had a coach named Vito. Between school and the Little League, I was spending a lot of time learning about competitive athletics.’’

Santo’s mother, Vivian, remarried several years later while her son blossomed as a multi-sport athlete. Baseball remained his favorite sport, though. "Just to be near it, I got a job at the stadium where the Class AAA Rainiers played, and I did it all--grounds crew, mowing the lawn, ushering in the bleachers,’’ Santo wrote.

As a high school senior, Santo was chosen to play in the Hearst All-Star game in New York’s Polo Grounds in 1958. He was a catcher then, and despite a less than stellar game, scouts sought him out. A Yankees scout asked him to stay several days to work out in Yankee Stadium while a Cleveland Indians scout asked him to stop in Ohio to work out before returning home.

Santo instead went home to find his mother and stepfather, John Constantino, already swamped with calls from scouts for all 16 major league teams. He had offers of a $50,000 bonus to sign with the Indians, and $80,000 to sign with the Cincinnati Reds. "It was tempting,’’ Santo wrote. "I had grown up watching those Class AAA Rainiers, the farm club for the Reds. I knew the team. I had shined their shoes. I even had a tryout with the team when the big league Reds came to town to play their minor league counterparts in an exhibition game.’’

For some reason, Santo held off, waiting for a call from the last major league club to make an offer--the Cubs.

"I had become pretty friendly with the Cubs scout, Dave Kosher, and I was confident he was going to come through,’’ Santo wrote.

But when Kosher did call, it was with bad news. "I know what you’ve been offered. We can’t even come close to your lowest offer,’’ he told Santo. "Bring [head scout Hard Rock Johnson] over anyway,’’ Santo answered.

The negotiations were blunt. "We know what you’ve been offered and we’re offering $20,000,’’ Johnson told Santo and his stepfather. "There’s no way you’re every going to be a third baseman in the major leagues, son,’’ he said. "Maybe you can make it as a catcher.’’

Santo drove an apologetic Kosher home, having already secretly made up his mind. ``Even though I grew up watching the Reds system, I had an affinity for the Cubs. I loved to watch Ernie Banks, and I was intrigued by the incredibly long dry spell they had had since their last championship,’’ Santo wrote. "And I believed I had a better chance of making it to the majors with the Cubs since they weren’t as rich in the talent department.’’

Santo’s stepfather left the decision to him. "My mind was made up. I was signing with the Cubs. To me, $20,000 was the same as $50,000 or $80,000. It was all a lot of money,’’ he wrote.

All the money in the world couldn’t buy a reprieve from the life sentence Santo learned of soon after he signed.

During his annual physical before leaving for his first minor league camp, doctors found sugar in Santo’s urine.

At 18, Santo was diagnosed with Type 1 juvenile diabetes, the most serious and insulin-dependent form of the disease.

"It was unbelievable,’’ he wrote. "I work up that morning a happy, healthy teenager, and suddenly I had a disease I had never heard of. I didn’t have the common symptoms--fatigue, frequent urination, weight loss, constant thirst--but I was a diabetic. And no one could tell me whether I could play baseball again.’’

What medicine could predict was more dire.

Santo took it upon himself to learn all he could about the disease, "yet what I was reading wasn’t making me any less afraid,’’ he wrote.

" 'The life expectancy of a juvenile diabetic is 25 years,’ I read. I was 18. 'It is the number one cause of blindness, the number two cause of kidney failure, and number three cause of hardened arteries.’ I stopped reading. I couldn’t absorb the horror.’’

Santo found a clinic in Seattle offering a two-week course on the disease and individual assessments for patient treatment. The young Santo tried to convince himself he could control his condition through exercise. But during a class, a woman sitting next to Santo suddenly collapsed into a coma.

Santo thought she needed only insulin--then learned the woman already was on insulin.

"Are you telling me I could be playing third base at Wrigley Field and just pass out?’’ he asked the doctors.

"You’ll have symptoms first, and you have to learn what they are,’’ he was told.

Santo kept his secret from the Cubs, but his personal vow to avoid insulin through diet and exercise lasted only a few years. In 1961, his second year in the majors, Santo’s condition reached the life-or-death point of needing insulin. He worked with a doctor in the off season to learn the danger signs and symptoms of impending collapse from low blood sugar, how to take daily insulin injections and to keep candy with him at all times.

He told only team physician, Dr. Jacob Suker, swearing him to secrecy.

Santo’s fear was that the disease might be used against him should he go into slumps--or even an excuse to release him.

Not until 1971 when the Cubs held a day in his honor on Aug. 28 did Santo make public his secret. By then he was firmly entrenched as a star--though his Cub teams kept having stardom slip from their grasp.


Diabetes was his burden, but his greater pain was was the season of 1969.

The Cubs, under third-year manager Leo Durocher, were riding high from opening day when Willie Smith’s pinch hit home run in the 10th inning won a game over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The first-place Cubs featured three future Hall of Famers in Banks, Williams and pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, a "million dollar infield’’ of All-Stars including shortstop Don Kessinger, second baseman Glen Beckert and Santo, a hard-nosed catcher in Randy Hundley and a towel-waving cheerleader of a closer in Dick Selma.

A black cat crosses the path of Chicago Cubs player Ron Santo as he waits his turn at bat in a crucial game against the New York Mets. The Cubs went on to lose this game and the pennant after having a 9 game lead. The Mets went on to win the 1969 World Series.
IMAGE:© Bettmann/CORBIS, September 9, 1969

"People weren’t talking politics, war or economics the summer of 1969 in Chicago,’’ wrote Santo, whose joy in winning led to a heel-clicking frolic after victories. "They were talking about the Chicago Cubs.

"We were treated like rock stars. We would have to fight through the crowds just to get to our cars--three hours after the game. Some athletes will tell you they don’t care for that kind of adulation. We ate it up. We loved the fans. They loved us.’’

The fans’ love affair with Santo never receded since then--even in the heartbreaking end to that season when the New York Mets overtook the Cubs in September and went on to win the World Series.

But despite the adulation, team captain Santo also was a lightning rod for all emotions Cub. At mid-season, when the team lost a crucial series to the Mets in New York, a young rookie outfielder, Don Young, took the brunt of criticism from Durocher for two dropped fly balls.

But Santo was the one reporters went to for comment when Young quickly left afterward. "It’s like anybody as a rookie,’’ Santo said. "Sometimes you put your head between your legs. I’ve done it as a player. Those things happen.’’

The ensuing stories said Santo blamed Young for the loss, and some columnists vilified him. He was booed at Wrigley when the team returned home--but the worst came privately in letters threatening him and his family.

One threat kept coming regularly, and it led to Santo and his family getting 24-hour police protection for a time.

At the end of the 1970 season, a series of threatening calls said Santo would be the target of a sniper in Shea Stadium. The threats were deemed serious enough that the FBI assigned Santo protection on the trip. When security wires to Shea were found to be cut the day of the alleged assault, Santo was sent home with the security detail.

The threats eventually stopped, but not before the Santo family had spent a year in police protection.

The Cubs finished with 92 victories in 1969--eight games behind the Mets.

"How did they win? How did they come from eight back and beat us and then beat the Orioles [in the World Series]? That’s a good question. I wish I knew,’’ Santo wrote.


Santo spent 14 years in a Cubs uniform--but he retired from baseball as a White Sox.

"The thought that I would end my career with any team other than the Cubs was foreign to me,’’ he wrote. But it happened after the 1973 season as the Cubs dismantled the last remnants of the 1969 club.

Cubs general manager John Holland actually wanted to trade Santo to the California Angels as part of a five-player deal. But Santo qualified for a new reserve clause right to reject the move. He didn’t want to leave Chicago, where he had established his personal life and outside businesses.

With the team set on trading him, Santo went to the South Side on Dec. 11, 1973 in exchange for pitchers Ken Frailing, Jim Kremmel, Steve Stone and catcher Steve Swisher.

Santo spent one season with the Sox, playing some second base and designated hitter. His unhappiness was reflected in a .221 average, five home runs and 41 RBI in 117 games. Despite a two-year guaranteed contract, Santo told Sox GM John Allyn he would retire at season’s end, foregoing the $130,000 left on his contract.

He spent the next 15 years as a businessman in Chicago, his only baseball ties as a fan.

In 1989, the Cubs reached the playoffs, and Santo was invited to throw out the first pitch before one of the games. It was the first time he had been back to the field since his trade, and it led to his return.

The next season, Santo auditioned for and was accepted to fill a spot in the team’s revamped WGN-AM radio booth. He joined Bob Brenly and Thom Brennaman and worked with both until 1991 when Brenly went back to coaching. Santo and Brennaman were partners until 1996, Brennaman leaving for Arizona and Santo getting a new partner in Pat Hughes.

Santo’s broadcast career rekindled his bond with the Cubs and fans, his analysis often colored with the rooting interests he couldn’t always temper.

It was characterized most in a September, 1998 game when Cubs outfielder Brant Brown dropped a fly ball in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers, leading to a ninth inning Brewers come from behind victory,

"Oh, no!!’’ Santo yelled into the microphone, the sentiment of most who were listening.

But Santo’s broadcast career, like his playing career, was good enough to earn him nomination as one of ten finalists for the 2005 Ford C. Frick Award, the Hall of Fame’s highest broadcast honor.

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella talks with former Cub Ron Santo, now a radio analyst, in the dugout after Piniella announced he will retire from coaching at the end of this season, before the Cubs' baseball game against the Houston Astros on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, in Chicago. (AP)

As he did through his career, Santo continued dealing with the effects of diabetes. His health issues included laser eye surgeries, cardiac bypass surgery in 1999 and a series of right foot operations in 2001 trying to avoid amputation. But Santo eventually lost his right leg below the knee in December, 2001. A year later, his left leg also was amputated.

Despite his handicaps, he continued his broadcasting duties almost without interruption. But Santo did miss the Cubs’ post-season of 2003 when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer requiring another surgery.

His medical woes never dampened his spirits, and never sidetracked his on-going fundraising work to find a cure for diabetes.

Ryne Sandberg, whose No. 23 was retired by the Cubs after his Hall of Fame induction in 2005, considered Santo a Cubs teammate though they played decades apart.

"My one regret is that I never got to play alongside Ron, and I never got to see him play,’’ Sandberg wrote in an introduction to "Few And Chosen.’’ "But I have looked at the back of his baseball card and his numbers were tremendous--and to think he did all that, playing 15 years in the major leagues while battling diabetes throughout his career.’’

Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, who became a close friend, marveled at Santo’s achievements in the face of his disease.

"Many might not have been up to the task. Ron was,’’ Bench wrote in a foreword to Santo’s autobiography. "The Big Red Machine of the 1970s would have had a very nice spot in their lineup for Ron Santo. We tried out many different people at third base, and we were always seemingly looking for 'a Ron Santo type.’ If we had been lucky enough to obtain Ron Santo from the Cubs, I don’t know how many more games we would have won.’’

But there was only one team for Santo, his year with the Sox aside.

"Ronnie had all the qualities you look for in someone you would want to carry the name 'Mr. Cub,’ ‘’ Banks once wrote. "As a player, he was a great competitor, a hard worker and a leader. He had intensity. He was determined and ambitious. He wanted to win more than anybody I’ve ever known.

"Ronnie has handled his own ailment like the true champion he is,’’ Banks continued. "He is the most courageous person I’ve ever been around. I’m inspired by him and by his spirit. He is one of my idols, one of my heroes. I love Ron Santo.’’

Ron Santo died a thousand deaths with his Cubs

Chicago Sun-Times
December 3, 2010

Cubs first baseman Ernie Banks restrains teammate Ron Santo as Santo tries to go after a heckling spectator in the stands during a spring training game in Scottsdale, Ariz., in March 1970. Santo stayed in the game and the spectator was removed.

People would ask me whether I knew Ron Santo, and my response was always the same: “Yes, and so do you.’’

The man who cheered and groaned on the radio, who urged and ached and pleaded, who died a thousand deaths with his Cubs – that was Ron Santo. What you heard in that raspy voice was everything there was to him. He was pure, uncut fervor.

He died one last time Thursday night, and no, he never did get the things he wanted so badly: a Cubs’ World Series title and a bust in Cooperstown, N.Y. But what a good life he led, 70 years’ worth, and he knew it.

You can say his love for the Cubs went unrequited, that the team let him down season after season, often in cruel fashion. But he wasn’t alone; there were thousands and thousands of fans who gladly stayed in the same co-dependent relationship with the franchise. He spoke for them.

His humanity was always on display, and that’s why so many of us liked him. His diabetes would throw him a setback, and he’d endure. He’d get his hopes up for making the Hall of Fame, and he’d be crushed when he didn’t get enough votes. A couple days later, he’d emerge with a new layer of scar tissue and a renewed appreciation of the wonderful life he was leading.

Then he’d get back to bleeding over the Cubs. Nobody gave as much blood as this guy did.

He deserved to be in the Hall, but I always wondered if it was better that he didn’t get inducted. He taught us perseverance. It was OK to really, really want something and to show it publicly. How many of us live our lives behind masks? Here was a man unafraid to show us everything he was feeling.

Former Chicago Cub third baseman Ron Santo is joined by former teammates Ernie Banks (l) and Billy Williams (r) during a retirement ceremony for Santo's uniform number 10 before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 28, 2003 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Santo was much more popular as a WGN radio broadcaster than he was as a player. When he was playing, the Cubs weren’t the cultural phenomenon they are now. Wrigley Field-as-theme-park has been a bigger curse than any billy goat: The team put more emphasis on the entertainment value of the franchise than on the product on the field. So the ballpark became the star. So did Harry Caray. And so did Santo.

It wasn’t coincidence that the first statue outside Wrigley was Caray’s, not Ernie Banks’. Santo deserves one, too, but how does a sculptor capture the spirit of the man who screamed “Nooooooooooooo” when Brant Brown dropped that routine fly ball in 1998? Maybe something along the lines of “The Scream’’ by Edvard Munch.

That was the essence of Ronnie, wasn’t it? He didn’t need to rip players. You didn’t have to read into anything he was saying. More so than the actual words, his tone said it all. “Gosh!” or “Jeez!’’ was followed by unintelligible grumbling and then, finally, deep depression. He didn’t live and breathe Cubs. He radiated Cubs.

Whenever one of the players said, “Nobody feels worse about what’s going than we do,’’ he was wrong. The guy up in the booth was, at that very moment, opening another vein. And when the Cubs were in the middle of a rally, Santo was in the middle of a religious experience.

Hardcore baseball fans, the ones who want strategy and numbers from their announcers, didn’t have much patience with Santo. He wasn’t about that. He was about emotion.

It hurts to know that the byplay between Santo and play-by-play man Pat Hughes is gone. Santo would go off on a tangent, and Hughes would play him like a violin.

Santo hated Shea Stadium with a passion, thanks to the Cubs’ collapse in 1969. It didn’t help that his toupee once caught fire in the visiting club’s broadcast booth. There might not have been a happier person on earth than Santo when Shea was demolished in 2009. There might not have been a happier play-by-play announcer than Hughes when that rug started smoking. He had one more thing to kid his partner about on the air.

Santo didn’t measure his life in wins and losses, which is a good thing because he wouldn’t have lived past ’69 if he had. He measured his life in the blessings that he had been given: his family, his health and his Cubs.

He appreciated his fans too. He never took them for granted. In his mind, he was the same as they were. You could see it in how he treated them. That was his gift. He was as loyal as a guide dog.

He lived with his diabetes and fought it, but he didn’t make many concessions to the disease. You couldn’t help but look at his blue jeans when he sat down and see the outline of the prostheses he wore. You also couldn’t help but notice he didn’t give them much of a thought.

He played 14 years with the Cubs and played a mean third base. People forget that Santo wasn’t always a beloved character in Chicago. Other players viewed him as a hot dog. They didn’t like when he jumped and clicked his heels after a victory. During a 1969 dustup, Santo had his hands around manager Leo Durocher’s neck before other players separated the two.

But he was a competitor with talent, the best kind of competitor.

The Cubs retired his number in 2003, and it flaps proudly on the left-field foul pole at Wrigley.

Goodbye, No. 10. We knew you well.

The Greatest Player Not in the Hall

By Joe Posnanski
December 3, 2010

Ron Santo poses with his son, Jeff, in the press box before a Cubs spring training game in Phoenix. Jeff's documentary -- This Old Cub -- tells the story of his father's secret life as a diabetic athlete.(2004)

There is something about the Baseball Hall of Fame — all Halls of Fame, really — that people don’t really like talking about. Somebody has to the best player not in it. There’s no way around this. It can be a big Hall of Fame or a small one. It can be an inclusive Hall of Fame or one as exclusive at Augusta National. Wherever you draw your line of greatness, there are remarkable people left outside.

For many years, Ron Santo’s identity was wrapped up in being left outside. He was, simply, the greatest player not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. This is not to say that he was a better baseball player than Dick Allen or Minnie Minoso or Bert Blyleven or Ken Boyer or numerous other terrific players who have not yet been elected and inducted. That is a matter opinion. This is not to say he was a more egregious oversight than any of these players or others. That, too, is opinion.

Santo played his entire career in Chicago and later became a Cubs broadcaster. (AP)
What I mean is that Santo carried the title as Greatest Non-Hall of Famer. Nobody else really wanted it. Every year, his name came up for the Hall of Fame — is this finally the year? And every year, he fell short. Fifteen times he was on the Baseball Writers ballot and needed 75% to be elected. He never once got even 50% of the vote. Three times he received the most votes from the Veteran’s Committee, but never once got the percentage he needed to qualify for the Hall of Fame. He handled all this with great dignity. In so many ways, it was the story of his career. He had grown used to being under-appreciated.

There are usually easy-to-understand factors that make anyone underrated. There’s no mystery about it with Ron Santo. He played baseball in a time when runs were especially hard to come by — and so his numbers are not jaw-dropping. He played third base, which has long been baseball’s vacuum — when Santo retired in 1974 there were only three third basemen in the Hall of Fame. Many of his skills were subtle — Santo twice led the National League in on-base percentage and four times led in walks — and these were not especially appreciated talents during his playing days.

Santo also played for losing teams, year after year after year. He never played in a single postseason game. In 1967, Santo may have been the best player in the NL — he hit .300 with 31 homers, he walked 96 times, he scored 107 runs, he drove in 98 and he won a Gold Glove. The Cubs, in what would turn out to be one of their most successful seasons during Santo’s career, finished a mere 14 games back.

He was as solid as oak, the captain of the Cubs, and he put up virtually the same numbers year after year after year. Consistency is boring and underrated. From 1963 to 1970, he ALWAYS hit 25 home runs, and he ALWAYS drove in 94-plus runs, and he ALWAYS played 154 or more games. He won five Gold Gloves in those eight years, and he led third basemen in assists just about every year, and he led the league in sac flies three times, and he was good for 90-plus walks. It is true that he took advantage of the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, where he did most of his good hitting. Over a career, he hit .296/.383/.522 in Chicago. And he hit .257/.342/.406 outside. He hit 216 of his 342 homers in Chicago. He scored 180 more runs and drove in 155 more runs at home.

But it is just as true that he played in a very low-scoring time in a very low-scoring league. Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement takes a pretty good measure of a player’s contribution. In the 1960s, in the National League, only Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente had a higher WAR than Ron Santo.

Most Wins Above Replacement, NL (1960-69):

1. Willie Mays, 84.1
2. Hank Aaron, 79.8
3. Roberto Clemente, 59.2
4. Ron Santo, 54.4
5. Willie McCovey, 46.0
6. Eddie Mathews, 42.1
7. Frank Robinson, 38.9
8. Vada Pinson, 38.7
9. Dick Allen, 37.2
10. Orlando Cepeda, 36.7

Now, this might be a bit misleading if you put too much faith in it — Robinson went to the American League, Dick Allen played 600-plus fewer games, and so on. But I’m not trying to make the point that he was the fourth-best player in the NL during the decade, but that his value was greater than his good numbers suggest, and that whatever Wrigley Field gave, playing in an era of high mounds and high strikes took away. He was very good year after year after year after year.

And there was something else — Santo was a Type 1 Diabetic. He had no easy way to monitor his blood sugar, so according to his son Jeff, he learned to do it by his mood. He did not share that he was diabetic for many years, and he kept his struggle hidden from teammates, and he refused to come out of the lineup. He quietly visited hospitals to talk with children with diabetes. Later, he made his fight against diabetes a public fight so he could inspire people. There are those who would say that while his quiet (and later public) triumph over diabetes is admirable, it has little to do with his Hall of Fame case.

I suppose it depends on what you believe the Baseball Hall of Fame means.

Santo was so under-appreciated as a player that when he first appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1980, he received exactly 15 votes. That was not even enough to get him on the ballot again in 1981. It was only in 1985 that a minor uproar reinstated him and a few other overlooked talents to the ballot*. This time around, Santo received 53 votes, which hardly made him a Hall of Fame threat but did keep him comfortably on the ballot. And that’s how it would go for 14 more years — he never came close to getting into the Hall, but he would always stay comfortably on the ballot.

*The reinstated players included Santo, Ken Boyer, Curt Flood, Vada Pinson, Harvey Haddix, Dave McNally, Ron Fairly (who had received zero votes the year before) and, most remarkably to me, Denny McLain.

Of course, he stayed around the game. He became an enthusiastic Cubs radio broadcaster. He remained a wonderful presence in Chicago. He was beloved. That’s the overwhelming feeling on Friday after Ron Santo died at the age of 70. He was beloved as few ballplayers are ever beloved. I have little doubt that he would have loved to have been elected to the Hall of Fame, and my own baseball instincts tell me that it should have happened long ago. But when I was around him, when I listened to him, when I once interviewed him about the Hall of Fame, I never heard any disappointment or bitterness. I heard a man who loved the game and loved life.

And I look at it this way: Someone has to be the greatest player to not get into the Hall of Fame. Not everyone could handle that sort of thing. Ron Santo wore it beautifully.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Today's Tune: Big Bill Broonzy - When Did You Leave Heaven


By Ann Coulter
December 1, 2010

The two biggest stories this week are WikiLeaks' continued publication of classified government documents, which did untold damage to America's national security interests, and the Democrats' fanatical determination to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and allow gays to serve openly in the military.

The mole who allegedly gave WikiLeaks the mountains of secret documents is Pfc. Bradley Manning, Army intelligence analyst and angry gay.

We've heard 1 billion times about the Army translator who just wanted to serve his country, but was cashiered because of whom he loved.

I'll see your Army translator and raise you one Bradley Manning.
According to Bradley's online chats, he was in "an awkward place" both "emotionally and psychologically." So in a snit, he betrayed his country by orchestrating the greatest leak of classified intelligence in U.S. history.

Isn't that in the Army Code of Conduct? You must follow orders at all times. Exceptions will be made for servicemen in an awkward place. Now, who wants a hug? Waitress! Three more apple-tinis!"

According to The New York Times, Bradley sought "moral support" from his "self-described drag queen" boyfriend. Alas, he still felt out of sorts. So why not sell out his country?

In an online chat with a computer hacker, Bradley said he lifted the hundreds of thousands of classified documents by pretending to be listening to a CD labeled "Lady Gaga." Then he acted as if he were singing along with her hit song "Telephone" while frantically downloading classified documents.

I'm not a military man, but I think singing along to Lady Gaga would constitute "telling" under "don't ask, don't tell."

Do you have to actually wear a dress to be captured by the Army's "don't ask, don't tell" dragnet?

What constitutes being "openly" gay now? Bringing a spice rack to basic training? Attending morning drills decked out as a Cher impersonator? Following Anderson Cooper on Twitter?

Also, U.S. military, have you seen a picture of Bradley Manning? The photo I've seen is only from the waist up, but you get the feeling that he's wearing butt-less chaps underneath. He looks like a guy in a soldier costume at the Greenwich Village Halloween parade.

With any luck, Bradley's court-martial will be gayer than a Liza Minelli wedding. It could be the first court-martial in U.S. history to feature ice sculptures and a "Wizard of Oz"-themed gazebo. "Are you going to Bradley's court-martial? I hear Patti LaBelle is going to sing!"

Maybe there's a reason gays have traditionally been kept out of the intelligence services, apart from the fact that closeted gay men are easy to blackmail. Gays have always been suspicious of that rationale and perhaps they're right.

The most damaging spies in British history were the Cambridge Five, also called "the "Magnificent Five": Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean and John Cairncross. They were highly placed members of British intelligence, all secretly working for the KGB.

The only one who wasn't gay was Philby. Burgess and Blunt were flamboyantly gay. Indeed, the Russians set Burgess up with a boyfriend as soon as he defected to the Soviet Union.

The Magnificent Five's American compatriot Michael Straight was -- ironically -- bisexual, as was Whittaker Chambers, at least during the period that he was a spy. And of course, there's David Brock.

So many Soviet spies were gay that, according to intelligence reporter Phillip Knightley, the Comintern was referred to as "the Homintern." (I would have called it the "Gay G.B.")

Bradley's friends told the Times they suspected "his desperation for acceptance -- or delusions of grandeur" may have prompted his document dump.

Let's check our "Gay Profile at a Glance" and ... let's see ... desperate for acceptance ... delusions of grandeur ... yep, they're both on the gay subset list!

Obviously, the vast majority of gays are loyal Americans -- and witty and stylish to boot! But a small percentage of gays are going to be narcissistic hothouse flowers like Bradley Manning.

Couldn't they just work for JetBlue? America would be a lot safer right now if gays in an "awkward place" psychologically could do no more damage than grabbing a couple of beers and sliding down the emergency chute.

Look at the disaster one gay created under our punishing "don't ask, don't tell" policy. What else awaits America with the overturning of a policy that was probably put there for a reason (apart from being the only thing Bill Clinton ever did that I agreed with)?

Liberals don't care. Their approach is to rip out society's foundations without asking if they serve any purpose.

Why do we have immigration laws? What's with these borders? Why do we have the institution of marriage, anyway? What do we need standardized tests for? Hey, I like Keith Richards -- why not make heroin legal? Let's take a sledgehammer to all these load-bearing walls and just see what happens!

For liberals, gays in the military is a win-win proposition. Either gays in the military works, or it wrecks the military, both of which outcomes they enthusiastically support.

But since you brought up gays in the military, liberals, let's talk about Bradley Manning. He apparently released hundreds of thousands of classified government documents as a result of being a gay man in "an awkward place."

Any discussion of "don't ask, don't tell" should begin with Bradley Manning. Live by the sad anecdote, die by the sad anecdote.


Obama's time-warp focus on the New START treaty

By George F. Will
The Washington Post
Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Framers of the Constitution, a nuisance regretted by most modern presidents, gave the legislative branch - another indignity inflicted on presidents, as they see it - an important role in making foreign policy. The Framers did so by, among other provisions, requiring the consent of two-thirds of the Senate (today, 67 votes) to treaties. The Framers' wisdom is confirmed by Barack Obama's impatience with senators reluctant to ratify, during Congress's lame-duck session, the New START treaty pertaining to Russia's nuclear weapons.

The administration's ardor for ratification is understandable, as is Russia's. The president needs a success somewhere; Russia needs psychotherapy. It longs to be treated as what it no longer is, a superpower, and it likes the treaty's asymmetries.

It is more reasonable to worry about the security of Russia's weapons than about their numbers. New START, however, pertains primarily to the numbers. It requires the reduction of strategic weapons and launchers. Concerning the former, Russia's economic anemia is already forcing it into arms reductions. Concerning the latter, Russia already is below the levels the treaty would impose on America.

Deeply informed and rationally skeptical, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is arguing from the position of increased strength created on Nov. 2: Come January, there will be six more Republican senators. He implicitly - and lucidly - treats Russia itself as of secondary importance in the treaty. He is using his enhanced leverage primarily to increase the administration's commitment to modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal: All nuclear weapons decay, and no U.S. weapon has been tested since 1992.

"All the lab folks will tell you" modernization is imperative, Kyl said in a telephone interview Monday. Which may be why, he said, "for significant periods of time" Republican senators were "denied meaningful contact" with weapons laboratory scientists.

The administration contends that even delaying ratification will reduce Russia's helpfulness regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program. This suggests, strangely, that Russia has been significantly helpful. And it assumes, implausibly, that Russia's interest in preventing neighboring Iran from having nuclear weapons is less than its interest in modifying the strategic arms balance with an America that is no longer a strategic adversary. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Russia is no military threat to America or America's allies.

The administration says ratification is urgent to reinstall verification. But when the previous treaty expired last December, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said they would continue "in the spirit of" the expired treaty. If verification is suddenly increasingly important, is Russia decreasingly trustworthy?

When nations are enemies, they use arms negotiations less to mutually limit arms than to channel arms competition in strategically advantageous directions. So real arms control is impossible until it is unimportant. Until, that is, dangers disappear. So, ratification of New START is possible. But to call it urgent is silly; to call it advisable would be premature, pending completion of the Senate's advise-and-consent role, which should include clarifying stipulations in any ratifying resolution.

At Russia's insistence, the treaty contains language that some Republicans think does - and the Obama administration insists does not - couple limits on offensive and defensive systems. If it does, Republicans should oppose New START; if the language is, as the administration says, without force, it should be deleted. The Senate made ratification of the Jay Treaty (1795) and the Panama Canal Treaty (1978) contingent on modifying some language.

The impertinence of mere senators modifying their handiwork will scandalize the Cold War arms control clerisy, who are still with us. These custodians of humanity's salvation, these speakers of an argot (SLBMs, ICBMs, MIRVs, etc.) more arcane to the laity than Latin was to 14th-century peasants, are marvelously unimpressed by the events of 1991. If, when the Soviet Union disappeared, Russia had disintegrated until only the Moscow metropolitan area remained, the clerisy would be earnestly negotiating arms agreements with that city's police force.

In this era of astonishing emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil, Russia is a perverse miracle of arrested development. It is receding because it still has an essentially hunter-gatherer economy, based on extraction industries (oil, gas, minerals). Aside from vodka, what Russian-manufactured export matters? Don't say caviar; it is extracted from sturgeon.

America's domestic policy is bedeviled by reactionary liberalism, whose adherents resist any diminution of any entitlement. Barack Obama's tumble into a time warp - his overinvestment in an arms agreement with the emaciated Russian bear - proves that reactionary liberalism does not end at the water's edge.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sorry, but LeBron's a lost cause

By Jason Whitlock
November 30, 2010

I give up.

This column was going to be a plea for LeBron James to apologize to Cleveland fans for the classless way he exited the city.

An apology in the hours before Thursday’s Heat-Cavs tipoff would douse some of the animosity sure to fill Quicken Loans Arena.

An apology would relieve some of the stress on a Heat team totally uncomfortable with playing the role of villain, of being the team America loves to hate.

An apology would serve James’ image well, allowing his objective critics to move on.

But I give up. LeBron James looks, feels and sounds like a lost cause today, a millionaire celebrity incapable of reaching rock bottom, self-reflection or uttering an ounce of remorse.

Talent in the kind of abundance James is blessed with is a curse. It seduces the owner into believing his flaws are his strengths.

I once knew a Pro Bowl NFL receiver who believed being high on marijuana during practice and games was the key to his success. He said he’d been playing and practicing high since high school. He had no idea his reliance on marijuana was the main reason he’d never be a Hall of Fame receiver, and that’s not to suggest there are no recreational drug users in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Lawrence Taylor was so gifted it never mattered what he did before kickoff; putting on a uniform 16 Sundays a year was as responsible as LT needed to be.

LeBron James thinks he’s as dedicated to the game as Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and Tyler Hansbrough.

Nope. He’s more talented, the game comes easier to LeBron. He can excel in the NBA without ever submitting to coaching. He can earn lifetime financial security without ever attending college or grinding at the bottom of the corporate ladder. He can win friends and be popular with women without ever demonstrating humility or showing respect.

You wonder why Big Ben Roethlisberger tried to have sex with a college student inside a nightclub closet/bathroom? Probably because he had before. People do what works. If bad habits get rewarded, people never interpret them as bad habits.

LeBron James bullies the coaches who dare to coach him, who dare to try to define for him the sacrifices necessary for true greatness.

According to an ESPN story, the Heat players, particularly LeBron, are bothered that Erik Spoelstra is demanding that LeBron conduct himself in a more professional demeanor. Spoelstra has committed the felonious crime of yelling at LeBron in front of his teammates. Spoelstra won’t let LeBron be LeBron the way a parent won’t let a child be an unbathed child day after day.

The story appears to be intentionally leaked by members of Team LeBron -- the clueless group that brought you The Decision — to undermine Spoelstra. In reality, it undermines James.

That’s why I give up.

The people surrounding and advising James are just as devoid of mature perspective as James. They’ve been blessed with a gift (James) so talented they can’t recognize their flaws, either. Their flaws, in their minds, have no real consequences, especially none that can’t be explained away by racism or “haterade.”

It’s the blind leading the blind. Unless one of them talks James into financing a dogfighting ring, it’s highly unlikely James will ever snap out of his cluelessness.

Seriously, that’s what it took for us to see the best of Michael Vick, another once-in-a-generation talent who never approached his potential until he sat behind bars for 19 months.

I have no interest in seeing LeBron James go to prison.

So I give up. I’m just going to accept his immaturity and stubbornness and bullying. He’s an immense talent I’ll never fully enjoy or appreciate. I’ll tune in Thursday night and root for the Cavaliers.

James is a lost cause. He’ll never man up and apologize. His bank account says he doesn’t have to. His friends say he shouldn’t. His coworkers and peers, besides Spoelstra, are too fearful to tell James what they really think. He’s a bully. Team LeBron’s next media leak could be about how Chris Bosh needs to be traded or Dwyane Wade must shoot less.

King Blames must be made happy in order for the Heat to reach their potential. The Little Diaper won Ohio state championships when everyone catered to his needs.

King Blames can’t hear us. Not any of us who ask him to rule the basketball world with grace, class, fairness and eye toward greatness. We don’t need him. And he doesn’t need us.

I give up.

E-mail Jason or follow him on Twitter. Media requests for Mr. Whitlock should be directed to Fox Sports PR.

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

King James wants Spoelstra to bow to him

By Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports
Nov 30, 2:00 am EST

Erik Spoelstra reached out to Mike Brown over the summer and searched for insight into both basketball’s blessing and curse: Coaching the two-time MVP LeBron James.

Over and over, Brown uprooted his offensive system to appease James only to have it never work. Brown praised James’ character publicly when he would’ve preferred to have been truthful about James’ narcissism. James defied Brown in public and private, disregarded his play calls to freelance his offense, and belittled him without consequence within the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Meticulous in his preparation, Spoelstra spoke with several past coaches, and league sources said a clear and unequivocal picture appeared on how to proceed: End the cycle of enabling with James and hold him accountable.

And surprise, surprise: LeBron James has responded with a test of his own organizational strength, pushing to see how far the Heat will bend to his will. This season, James is hearing a word seldom uttered to him in Cleveland: “No.” And it keeps coming out of the coach’s mouth, keeps getting between the King and what he wants.

Can I stay overnight to party in New Orleans after a preseason game?

Can I play the clown in practice?

Can I get out of playing point guard?

No. No. No.

Wait, what?

No, LeBron.


Even within a month of the season’s sideways 9-8 start, the NBA witnessed a predictable play out of the James-Maverick Carter playbook on Monday morning. They planted a story and exposed themselves again as jokers of the highest order. [1] They care so little about anyone but themselves. Still, no one’s surprised that they’d stoop so low, so fast into this supposed historic 73-victory season and NBA Finals sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. They want Spoelstra – and Pat Riley – to bend to them, to bow to the King the way everyone has before them.

Nevertheless, here’s what was surprising – even troubling – when the Heat talked on Monday before a victory over the Washington Wizards: In the blink of an eye, Dwyane Wade signed up with Team LeBron to scapegoat and sell out Spoelstra.

“I’m not going to say he’s ‘my guy,’ but he’s my coach,” Wade said.

Wade’s always been loyal, and that’s why it was so surprising to witness him bail this fast on Spoelstra, whom Wade knows too well. Spoelstra is a good NBA coach. Everyone knows that Wade isn’t a star who plays hard all the time, knows that he takes plays off on defense. They know that Spoelstra did a terrific job coaching 90 victories out of that flawed Miami roster the previous two seasons.

As much as ever, the Heat need Wade to influence James. Only now, it’s clear James is influencing Wade. With Udonis Haslem out for the regular season, the locker room misses one of its vital voices. Now, Wade is struggling on the floor and James is the devil on his shoulder, whispering that he doesn’t need to be accountable, that there’s an easy fall guy for everyone: Spoelstra.

Those who know Wade well, who care about him, were disappointed Monday. When Spoelstra needed Wade to stand up for him, Wade never shrunk so small. Spoelstra was Wade’s guy, but Wade’s finding it much easier to align himself with James’ coward act than do the right thing. This was something that you’d expect out of Chris Bosh, who’s never been a leader, never a winner, but Wade?

“He knows better than this,” one of Wade’s former assistant coaches said. “I’m not saying he hasn’t changed some, but he knows right from wrong. And this is wrong.”

The fundamental problem for Spoelstra isn’t that James doesn’t respect coaches – he doesn’t respect people. Give LeBron this, though: He’s learned to live one way with the television light on, and another with it off. He treats everyone like a servant, because that’s what the system taught him as a teenage prodigy. To James, the coach isn’t there to mold him into the team dynamic. He’s there to serve him.

Wade was one of the Team USA players who’d watch incredulously as James would throw a bowl of fries back at a renowned chef and bark, “They’re cold!” Or throw his sweaty practice jersey across the court and command a team administrator to go pick it up. Everyone wants James to grow out of it, but he’s never showed much of an inclination for self-examination and improvement. And he’s never surrounded himself with people who’d push him to do so.

What’s more, the timing of this leak was no accident, because James and his business manager had to like the idea of someone else going on trial this week. When the public wanted to talk about James’ return to Cleveland, about the callous way with which he left, about the disjointed start in Miami, they thrust everything onto Spoelstra.

Part of them believed they could deflect Hell Week at home in Ohio, and part of them probably believed they could indeed align the public with them against Spoelstra.

After all, the coach had it coming to him. Of this, LeBron James was sure. Spoelstra had the audacity to do something that Mike Brown never had ownership’s backing to do in Cleveland: To push James, call him out, coach him.

The funniest part had to be how they leaked the idea that Erik Spoelstra was panicking now, behaving like he feared for his job. Truth be told, he’s been behaving in the opposite way. Spoelstra isn’t running from LeBron, but running at him.

Someone’s scared here, but it isn’t the coach.