The Big Six

Frierson in a scene from “Matty” in which
Christy Mathewson brags about his nickname The Big Six. After Jackie Robinson broke the color line, he wouldn't be so cocky.


Eddie Frierson, who last weekend I saw perform his acclaimed one-man show about Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Christy Mathewson, the legendary "Big Six" (a nickname shrouded in mystery as to its meaning and origin) of the turn-of-the-century New York Giants. Mr. Frierson always ends the performance by taking questions from the audience and stays in character as he answers queries about the early days of major league baseball. I have seen the show many times and always ask "Matty" how he feels about black players being banned from employment by the New York Giants (decades before the team moved to San Francisco), St. Louis Browns or the Boston Braves of that era. Very much to his credit, Mr. Frierson doesn't attempt any revisionist political correctness and answers me as a white man playing for a circa 1910 major league team realistically would (the first time I ever asked him the question during the show, I joked afterwards that he glared at me as if to say "What are you; a n - - - - r lover?"), although always acknowledging the skill and popularity of the Negro League players of the time. This performance was done as a benefit for a peewee baseball team so there were an unusually large number of middle class white children in the audience and I attended it with my nemesis Misty LaRue. I asked my customary question about the lack of interracial play at the time but as we were driving home, Ms. LaRue and I lamented that our grilling didn't take on a more "adult" tone; especially since the other audience members weren't very interrogative of "Matty" that night and Mr. Frierson would have no alternative but to take our questions, such as:

  • What was your favorite major league city to hire prostitutes in?
  • Did you ever engage in anal sex with your teammates on long road trips?
  • Could your nickname 'The Big Six' have referred to the size of your penis?

This last question strikes me as particularly pertinent because Matty's "Big Six" might have only been considered "big" because of the lack of players of color to compare it to. It would have gone a long way in explaining why white players of Mathewson's era didn't want to have to measure up to their counterparts in the Negro Leagues and it would have been instructive to the pale boys in the audience to realize that while they might be considered a big deal by the girls in their class now, things will change when they're in high school and they're playing with kids bussed in from South Central. In Matty's day he was "The Big Six" but after Jackie Robinson broke the color line, he might have had a nickname more along the lines of Pee Wee Reese.

Speaking of my nemesis Misty LaRue, my nemesis Misty LaRue who was positively giddy with excitement when she learned that there would be a tribute to The Wizard of Oz at this year's Academy Awards ceremony. At first I was puzzled, since I was unaware of any particular fondness she had for the epic trek down the Yellow Brick Road. But then I thought of my annual Oscar-watching party and the people who would be in attendance, and realized that we comprised the cast of characters of L. Frank Baum's story. Winston and I are Toto and Dorothy, two innocents who were thrown by fate into a society of misfits and want nothing more than to get the hell out of there. The fore-mentioned Eddie Frierson represents the munchkins by virtue of his tiny penis. Bro Joe is the Cowardly Lion who can only find his courage after imbibing at least a fifth of alcohol. Glenn "Piece of Shit" Simon is the Scarecrow, who somehow can manage motor skills and sentient speech despite lacking a brain. Mara Marini (whose acceptance to my invitation to the party must have gotten lost in the mail because I still haven't received it) is the Tin Woodsman, since her constant rejection of my amorous advances clearly indicates that she has no heart. And Ms. LaRue herself is cast to type as the Wicked Witch of the West, whose key ambition is to destroy me for a prize as insignificant as a pair of shoes. She won't arrive at the party with the witch's green pallor but after loading up on onion dip and my signature mini-burritos she'll be her spitting image by the time the Best Picture award is handed out. By then, the only race to be decided is who will make it to the toilet first, the Wicked Witch to purge the buffet or the Cowardly Lion to puke up his courage. While they're in there, they'll have to pay no attention to the man behind the shower curtain. He's just going to turn out to be a boring old fraud from Kansas, anyway. It's the role Dan E. Campbell was born to play.

Speaking of the Oscars, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for rescinding a Best Song nomination to the title tune from the little-seen Alone Yet Not Alone because one of its authors, former Academy governor Bruce Broughton, supposedly used his influence in the organization by sending e-mails to a few of his Academy member pals to listen to the thing. After the story broke, I searched out the song and found it to be a syrupy little nonentity that had no chance of winning against competition like "Let It Go" from Frozen and "Ordinary Love" from Mandella and I suspect Mr. Broughton had already used what influence he possesses to get a nomination in the first place. The one intriguing aspect of the song was in the singer who performed it, a quadriplegic whose husband had to push her diaphragm to help her reach the high notes. It's a good thing she didn't get a Grammy nomination because it might have been rescinded because of the unfair advantage she had in her performance. I mean, Pavarotti never had anyone working his diaphragm for him.

Emmy Award nominee Wade Sheeler, who objected to a Facebook status I reposted from my longtime enemy Amy Ball in which I pledged to participate in a Pay-it-forward initiative rewarding the first 5 people who comment on the status with "I'm in" with a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year. Everyone who read it thought it was kind of a nice thing to do, with the exception of Mr. Sheeler who chastised "I would say 'I'm in' but you'll just show me being raped in an Enemies list, so I'm out," adding "the whole point of Paying it forward is to not have people'sign in' publicly to say 'Yes Jon, do something for me.' Doing it without motivation, or anonymously, is the way to pay it forward."I was compelled to respond that I don't "rape" people on the Enemies List (that's what the cellar in my cabin deep within the woods is for) and added that anonymity isn't a requirement of paying it forward at all. You usually pay a debt forward because the person who first bestowed a kindness either can't be or doesn't need to be paid back. So you pay it forward, often as publicly as possible so that the world is aware what the original benefactor did for you. Especially in this case since my prime objective in joining the initiative was to suck up to Ms. Ball and if I did it anonymously, she'd have no reason to reconsider her current opinion of me as a total dick. And with people like Mr. Sheeler around to advertise me as a dick even when I'm trying to do something nice, there seems little point to doing anonymous good deeds because my reputation as a dick precedes me. It gets me so angry that I want to go out and rape somebody. Maybe I can start my Pay-it-forward initiative by inviting somebody to join me for a weekend at my cabin deep within the woods.

Jeebus Burbano, who posted on her Facebook newsfeed the official "Definition of Strong Language" guidelines for any would-be writers for the BBC. According to our friends across the pond, "Strong Language" falls into three categories: that with the potential to cause most offense (meaning nuclear words like "fuck," "cocksucker," and the forbidden N-Word, which so intimidates me that I dashed it out in today's listing about Eddie Frierson), that which causes moderate offense (examples they offer are wanker, bastard, and slag) and language that can cause mild offense (crap, knob, and prat). What intrigued me about the distinctions was that they were made without regard for what each word actually meant. For instance "cunt" was singled out as belonging to the most explosive category of words, yet "pussy" was relegated to being merely moderately offensive despite meaning essentially the same thing. Moreover their sister synonym "cooch"was considered too tame to even make the list. I understand that it took generations of hanging out in shady back alleys for the strongest words to acquire their dark reputation and the reasons that they elicit such a fervent reaction are vague but undeniable (I challenge anyone who doubts that to start using the word "cunt" in their everyday conversation and measure it against the drop in their invitations to social functions) but I really think it's time we reconsider some of the classifications. "Fuck," for instance, is a word I hear or read at least fifty times a day and think it's high time that it be downgraded to a more accessible category. "Bitch,"on the other hand (currently classified as being only moderately offensive) is a word I find sexist, hateful and ugly, and would love to never hear again. "Cooch," by contrast, is a word that I hope always remains playful enough to scurry just outside the radar of Standards and Practices. It always brings a smile to my face when I hear it regardless of the context, especially when it's mixed among some of the BBC's words with the potential to cause most offense. Sometimes a good girl has to run with the bad boys to avoid getting a reputation as a motherfucking prude.