Skip to comments.Several Astros, Marlins Players Back Bush's War Plans
Posted on 03/18/2003 10:31:22 PM PST by Tall_Texan
JUPITER, Fla. -- While some sections of America protest an apparently imminent war with Iraq, a number of the Astros and Florida Marlins support President Bush's desire to remove Iraq President Saddam Hussein from power.
"Obviously our thoughts and prayers are going out to all our troops," Craig Biggio said before the Astros beat the Marlins 9-5 on Tuesday at Roger Dean Stadium. "I'm in total support of our president. Obviously, he can't disclose everything Saddam has over there and what he's doing.
"Obviously, the president knows that Saddam has something that can do damage to us. The last thing we want to do is go to war. But you know what? Saddam left us no choice. I'm 100 percent behind our president, and I'm 100 percent behind our troops."
Astros second baseman Jeff Kent's support of the president is based on his desire to keep his wife and three children safe.
"I relate the political issues in a small scale in relation to being a father," Kent said. "I want to do everything that I can to protect my family. The value that my children have is incomparable to anything in this world that I have. I think the president feels the same way about protecting the American people.
"I need help in protecting my family from the outside world. I think what President Bush is doing to protect our country enables me to protect my family. I applaud him for giving me the ability to do that. Somebody needs to take a stand. He's the guy that's doing it right now."
Ballplayers have been known to shy away from political statements, but several Astros cited a desire to defend the president and counter the anti-war sentiments coming out of the entertainment industry.
Gregg Zaun's cousin is an Air Force pilot stationed near Iraq, so actors and musicians speaking out against Bush repulse him.
"There's a lot of idiot liberals in the entertainment industry," Zaun said. "We're going over there to Iraq to protect the interests of America and the free world against a tyrant dictator with weapons of mass destruction. That's a threat to decent people all over the world.
"It's amazing for somebody like (Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines) to be living in a society that allows her to make the kind of money that she does and feel the luxuries and the comfort and safety and security that she does. For her to bad-mouth our policy and our president and then to make it even more personal to say that she's embarrassed he's a Texan, I don't think I'll ever buy another Dixie Chicks record as long as I live."
Marlins pitchers Braden Looper and Doug Bochtler complained Tuesday morning after hearing a Dixie Chicks song played over the sound system at Roger Dean Stadium.
"It irritates me the way people come out against the war, like the Dixie Chicks," Looper said. "We need to support our troops and back them. And when something like that (Maines' comment) comes out, it's pretty bad. As a U.S. citizen, we need to be there for our troops and back them. I saw that, it got under my skin. I'll throw their CD out."
Ironically, There's Your Trouble was the Dixie Chicks song that prompted Bochtler to look up at the press box and make a slashing gesture across his throat with his finger, as if to say "turn it off."
"We were doing our bunt defense, and I heard the Dixie Chicks' song come on," Bochtler said. "I was like, `No, no, no, no. Shut that down.' I said, `Loop, how can they be playing this?' "
Bochtler has special respect for service men. His father served in the Air Force and Navy. His grandfather, who died last year, earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart after losing a leg in World War II.
"The great majority of my night is spent watching news," Bochtler said. "I follow it very closely. This is our society. This is our freedom. I like playing baseball for a living. That's my job. Those guys are over there willing to risk their lives so we can live our lives. How can that not be supported by anybody?"
Astros third baseman Geoff Blum and his Marlins counterpart Mike Lowell wondered just how much their opinions really mattered.
"How do you make a comment when you don't know all the information?" Blum said. "If I was in some national security meeting, I might feel a little different, but the chances of that happening are a little slim."
Lowell's father and grandfather were in the Army, but he limits his political comments.
"You've got to put pressure on Hussein," he said. "I don't feel comfortable making a political statement because I'm not a politician. I support what we're doing. If we don't do it, who is going to do it? Unless Saddam starts throwing (fastball) heaters middle in, there's nothing I can do."
There was an NFL player who quit his job and joined up to fight in Afghanistan. But realistically, it would be asking a lot to expect some pampered athlete to walk away from millions of dollars to go fight in the military and put himself in harm's way.
If you think about it, their salaries *are* helping to fund the war because they are rich enough to get taxed at the highest percentage.
As for other displays of public support, I don't doubt that, just as with charity, their good works often go unreported and they'd probably prefer it that way.
I'm not predicting a pennant but I'd disagree that pitching is a major problem. Who, in the NL, has a stronger staff?
Arizona? Once you get past Johnson and Schilling, what do they have?
Atlanta? Now that Glavine and Millwood are gone and Smoltz is in the pen, they have to rely on Maddux, Ortiz and what's this? Mike Hampton?
Philadelphia? You might have something there but it's not exactly a stable rotation and they still have a shaky closer.
The Dodgers, Cardinals or Giants? Lots of question marks there.
Houston has two starters (Oswalt and Miller) who are among the top ten in the league and have Cy Young potential. The bullpen is anchored by Dotel and Wagner, among the best set-up and closers in the NL. After those four, they have a lot of question marks but then so does everyone else. And the rest of the league doesn't have a heart of the order like Bagwell, Berkman and Kent.
A lot will need to go right for the Astros to win it all but I wouldn't write them off so soon. Talentwise, they're at least on par with the rest of the league.