The Corner

Impromptus

The ‘Rio Rijo,’ Etc.

Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal waves to the crowd after throwing a first pitch at the World Baseball Classic in Kissimmee, Fla., March 7, 2006. (Marc Serota / Reuters)

Last week, President Trump made a statement about Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state in Georgia: “He’s an enemy of the people.” Raffensperger has 24-hour security, owing to threats on his life. I lead Impromptus today with this issue, plus related matters.

Later in the column come some outstanding personalities, including Priscilla Buckley and Diego Maradona. She was managing editor of National Review and a golfer; he was a kid from an Argentinian slum and a soccer player.

My column ends with some photos that may tickle your fancy.

Three pieces of reader mail?

The first comes in response to my piece “‘Conservatism’: A Term Up for Grabs”:

Made me think of my own journey. Late in Reagan’s first term, I got my picture in the Seattle Times at a protest against him that I helped organize (as a teenager — 15 or 16). Leather jacket, beret, long hair, etc. I thought of myself as a socialist. Many of the usual groups came to “my” protest and I was suddenly on the mailing lists of the Socialist Workers Party, the Revolutionary So and So’s, and (my favorite group name) RADICAL WOMEN (all caps). Their literature and my interest in history turned me off the Left pretty quickly.

By 1990, I was getting my stack of George Will books signed by him at a bookstore in Chicago. I still had the hair and the jacket — even combat boots — but I had dropped the beret.

I now maintain that the words “conservative” and “liberal,” and “left” and “right,” have largely lost their utility in the United States. To steal a bit from Orwell, they now only mean “things I like” and “things I don’t like.”

For years, if I was asked “Conservative or liberal?,” I would respond, “It’s complicated. How much time do you have?” Now I’m thinking: What’s the word for “I’m glad Trump will be leaving the Oval Office in January; I’m not glad Biden will succeed him”?

A second piece of mail:

Hello, Mr. Nordlinger —

I teach economics down here in Georgia, and I recently covered fiscal policy.

National debt: $27 trillion
GDP: $21 trillion

Do you foresee a point at which we start being concerned?

Yes: when a full-blown crisis is upon us.

Come January, a D will be president. Does that mean R’s will rediscover fiscal responsibility, for a second? Maybe, but this concern will probably not extend to entitlement reform. The third rail still fries.

Last week, I had an Impromptus that began with a funny issue: talented pairs of fathers-in-law and sons-in-law. I got a note from Mike Brown, just retired from the Rockdale Reporter in Texas. (I wrote about Mike last year.) Though a Texan, he is a Cincinnati Reds fan.

Mike writes,

In 1990 the Cincinnati Reds won the National League pennant and went on to face the defending World Series champs, the Oakland A’s.

The Reds’ best pitcher was José Rijo, who possessed one of the best sliders — no, not like White Castle — of all time.

Working in the A’s front office was Hall of Famer, and San Francisco Giants great, Juan Marichal. He was doing the A’s Spanish-language broadcasts for the series.

At the time Rijo was married to Marichal’s daughter. The Rijos had recently been blessed with a child.

Marichal was asked for whom he was rooting, and his answer was a free-market classic: “I want my son-in-law to do well, but the A’s, they pay me.”

Rijo did very well. The Reds swept in four and Rijo won the first and last games. He was named series MVP.

After Game 4, the national telecast cut away briefly for a shot of Marichal interviewing Rijo, tears streaming down the younger man’s face.

All Reds fans will never forget that. I think we would have named the Ohio River for him if it would not have been called the “Rio Rijo.”

Actually, I think that has a ring to it! In any event, for today’s Impromptus — once more — go here.

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