A few summers ago, baseball's All-Star Game inspired me to compile
a roster of the nation's foremost media players. Now it's that time of year
again; I've reviewed my lineup of media stars -- and guess what? Except for
the designated hitter, they're all still at the top of their games!
So, here is America's beloved Media All-Star Team of 2001:
STARTING PITCHER: Cokie Roberts
Tossing a classic mix of curveballs and changeups, Roberts can
baffle anyone with more than a superficial knowledge of American history.
Her delivery, like her wisdom, is utterly conventional.
RELIEVER: Christopher Matthews
The spinning pitchman of "Hardball" on cable television, Matthews
currently makes frequent use of the spitter when the wind is at his back.
Formerly a nominal lefty, he is now proudly ambidextrous.
CLOSER: George Will
This hurler has cultivated an elaborate windup. Yet he can also
throw a mean fastball from a stretch position. Will specializes in wide
curves that nick the right edge of the plate. Catchers dread handling his
arch knuckler -- and sometimes get embarrassed when Will argues that even
his wild pitches are strikes. If riled, he resorts to the beanball.
LEADOFF BATTER: Jim Lehrer
His lackadaisical "NewsHour" style belies the fact that Lehrer is
adept at the well-placed bunt and beats many throws from across the
diamond. Boosted by multi-year endorsement contracts from the agribusiness
giant Archer Daniels Midland, he's an excellent corporate-team player.
CLEANUP BATTER: Dan Rather
Off at the crack of a bat, Rather can stretch a cliche into a
stand-up triple. He often hits line drives up the middle.
DESIGNATED HITTER: Patrick Buchanan
Known as a "Ty Cobb wannabe" for his flashing spikes and surly
manner, this slugger always swings for the fences. Crouched far to the
right side of the plate, Buchanan doesn't seem to mind that he rarely
connects. Dugout mates say he complains that batting was much more
enjoyable before the days of Roy Campanella. (Although Buchanan has been
benched a lot lately, he remains a media all-star because many key players
go back a long way with him.)
CENTER FIELDER: Barbara Walters
This consummate pro has decades of experience playing shallow
center field. While she defends her turf in the sunny outfield, observers
have become heavy-lidded to the point of somnolence.
LEFT FIELDER: Michael Kinsley
Affable and almost erudite, Kinsley has the unfortunate habit of
roaming the middle of the outfield for most of each game, thus leaving vast
expanses vacant. Some people swear that he has never come near the
left-field line, even to snag a simple pop-up.
RIGHT FIELDER: Rush Limbaugh
Limbaugh, who likes to hug the right-field line, boasts of many
putouts in foul territory. However, he is rued by umpires, who find him
abusive and prone to hallucinations.
SHORTSTOP: David Gergen
At bat, Gergen is a deft switch hitter. Wearing a mitt, he's a
fast man in the pivot -- able to pull off a double play with dazzling
agility that makes all his maneuvering look easy. Fans marvel that he
always seems to land on his feet.
CATCHER: Mike Wallace
This seasoned receiver knows how to call the signals without
antagonizing the front office.
PINCH HITTER: Katie Couric
Nice and savvy enough to be safe when it counts, Couric makes
every "Today" look professional, even when sliding around without purpose.
MANAGER: Bill Gates
If winning is the bottom line and sharing can be understood as
market share, then Gates is a great guy to run the team.
BAT BOY: John Journalist
BAT GIRL: Jane Journalist
TEAM MASCOT: Merrill Lynch
TEAM OWNER: Rupert Murdoch
He has a reputation as a foxy mogul with plenty of acumen. But
some players grumble that Murdoch's team is weakened by his refusal to
allow southpaws on the mound.
STADIUM: Disney-AOLTimeWarner-NewsCorp-GeneralElectric-Viacom Park
The media All-Stars wouldn't think of playing the game anywhere else.
Norman Solomon's latest book is "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media." His
syndicated column focuses on media and politics.