Ralph Houk was an American hero

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When Ralph Houk died last week I and just about every other person who wrote something about him made mention of the fact that he was a decorated veteran of World War II.  I had no idea just how amazing his war record was, however, having only read a few things here or there making reference to it.

There’s a story in the New York Times today examining his exploits, and man alive, Houk was something else.  From his citation when he won the Silver Star:

“Deliberately exposing himself to the withering fire, although the fire
was so intense that his clothes were torn by enemy machine-gun bullets,
he calmly moved from one position to another, directing his men. As
enemy tanks continued to advance, realizing that his guns were
ineffective against them, he secured a tank destroyer from an adjacent
unit, and personally directing its fire, he forced the enemy to withdraw
from the area. Through his gallant leadership, he was directly
responsible for repelling the enemy attack.”

And that’s just some of it. Read the whole thing. It’s not your average war story.

I’ve always been mildly annoyed when athletes use the “going into battle” metaphors, but I can’t imagine what true war heroes like Ralph Houk thought when they heard it.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.