|The world according to Dave|
By Eric Neel
Page 2 columnist
Dave Bliss is a visionary.
He's an idea guy.
If Dave's in the Watergate White House, he's whispering in Tricky Dick's ear: "You can ride this out, Sir. There's no need to panic. Here's what we do: We get Haldeman and Ziegler to testify that Dean's a dealer, see, then we make an anonymous call to Ben Bradlee and tell him Woodward and Bernstein are sleeping together, or that they're Commies, or that they're Commies sleeping together, right, and then we crank up the Checkers machine -- daily puppy press conferences, Pat and the kids in front of the camera hugging and petting the little guy -- because it worked before and it'll work now. Believe me, we have options, Sir. Just stay cool."
If Dave's captain of the Exxon Valdez, he's stumbling up out of the ship with the research on fish-and-fowl overpopulation numbers, the backing of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, and three eyewitnesses who swear the animals were talking smack and the spill was in self-defense.
Remember Jimmy Swaggart's cry-your-eyes-out "I have sinned against you" TV speech? Not a lot of people know this, but that was Dave's idea.
And that sidewinding Clinton riff: "depends on what your definition of 'is' is"? Ditto.
Dave's a thinker.
He's saying Whitewater's about water and the CCNY point-shaving scam in '51 is about shaving.
If he's riding with Rose, he's telling him: "You're the man, Pete. Love the hair, Pete. Give no quarter, Pete. Flip the script, Pete. Baseball's a national treasure and a great tradition. You bet it is. So is gambling, Pete. Goes way, way back. What was Abraham when he took his boy Isaac up that hill, Pete? That's right, a gambler. What's the stock market, Pete? That's right. You tell 'em, Pete. Tell 'em you've got nothing to be ashamed of, tell 'em they'd better check their hypocritical selves before they wreck their hypocritical selves. You tell 'em, Pete."
A Chicago courtroom, spring, 1921, eight ballplayers on trial: W.W.D.B.D (What Would Dave Bliss Do)? Question the scorer's eyesight, interrogate the groundskeeper's dirt-grooming technique, damn the fates for bringing such a storm of bad luck to such undeserving boys, and slip a little diarrhetic into the Mountain Man's morning coffee.
Dave's simple. He doesn't want to confuse the people.
Remember "mistakes were made"? Dave does.
Dave is sorry. Dave's a god-fearing man.
If he's alongside Tonya in '94, he's talking repentance. He's saying she's a changed woman who's seen the error of her ways. He's telling you Gillooly came to her, like Satan always does, in the guise of friendship and caring, that he preyed upon her, made her promises, turned her head around. He's testifying to her virtue, bathing her in the blood of the lamb. (That and maybe digging up an old spurned boyfriend of Nancy's, someone who might say she liked to do weird, sinful stuff like, you know, tongue kissing and dancing and such.)
Let's say you're Dave and the Danny Almonte-is-actually-a-23-year-old-stockbroker thing blows up in your face, threatening to crush the Little League dreams of your team, your community, and the whole wide-eyed purity-hungry American public. What do you say? You say: "Age is just a number, just an arbitrary measure we use to organize our days and nights. The calendar is a prop. It doesn't mean anything. Who can say how old any of us truly are? The true measure of a man is his spirit, his soul. Yes, Danny's body is mature, but the inner-Danny is a bright, innocent boy who represents the very essence of the Little League ideal. The problem isn't Danny, it's you, you and your tired, withered hearts. But it's not too late for you. You can still feel what Danny feels. Come on, sing it with me: 'Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you … If you're young at heart … For it's hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind … If you're young at heart ...'"
Yeah, He can get a little squirrely.
If the Minnesota hoops academic fraud thing goes down when Dave's around, he might come at you with a little bit of that Nathan-Thurm thing. "Yes, yes of course, we're under investigation. I knew that. Why would you think I wouldn't know that? Did you think I didn't know that? Maybe you didn't know that. Did you ever think about that? Did you? Yes, yes, I know academic fraud is serious. Of course it's serious. I knew that. Why would you think I didn't know that? Maybe you didn't know that. Did you ever think about that? Why are all the questions about me? What about you? Maybe you should ask yourself a question or two? Did you ever think about that?"
But in the end, he just wants what we all want: a fresh start.
Just the other day, Dave's telling John Henry Williams to think bigger. Forget the cryogenic thing, screw the decapitation thing. Tell the people, tell the press, tell Congress, that the Splendid Splinter's dying wish was to be buried on the first space colony. "Space," Dave says, "a clean slate, you know? And you could go with him, right? Probably play some ball up there, too. Ball's gotta travel like a muther up there. And who's gonna deny Ted Williams -- the American icon, the war hero, the greatest hitter who ever lived -- his last wish? And besides, he's … you know, kind of dead, so he can't exactly refute your story, right? And, I don't know, I was thinking, maybe, if you get the go-ahead from NASA, maybe you could take me along, too?"
Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2.