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Name, age, occupation, where are you from and where do you live now?
Paul Boocock

, 40, actor/writer (most of the time), born in Baltimore, MD (birthplace of Babe Ruth), Park Slope, home of progressive strivers who want to make it here without stepping on too many toes?

You're doing a one-man show called "Boocock's House of Baseball," what's it all about?
The Show comes from me answering the question: What is still good about America? After the most recent Bush coup, the only answer I could come up with is Baseball. But then I thought to myself: There is much in that answer - much to baseball. I think Baseball often represents what's good about the country and, whatever the current state of the baseball union is, certainly tells us much about the health of our country.

At it's best, when it is being played well, it demands a kind of balance that we should strive for in our democracy - room for individual achievement, but in the context of the needs of a greater body politic. Balance being the key word.

And, with a media that is blatantly ideological or corporately self-censored, I think that baseball is one of the few places where you can honestly see how many of our current American concerns are playing themselves out (so to speak). What's real, not pre-spun, is found on the Tabloid BACK page. Hunter S. Thompson (who started as a sports reporter) said something to the effect that the only place you're gonna find the truth is in the box scores.

The Steroid issue comes to mind. When solo-sport stars took anabolics: So what? Football players? No surprise. We expect people to go to extremes when they play Wargames. They better or they're gonna get hurt. But when baseball stars juice, we are more disappointed (if not that surprised). Even if you don't care much for the game, the guys seem more like regular guys, so they take on the role of representatives of our regular person hopes. When baseball players juice, our debate about their chemical intake becomes part of our greater debate about how much we as Americans, in our pursuit of happiness, should be altering the (God-)given equipment.

Is Lasik surgery to get your eyes up to a Ted Williams standard performance enhancement? And then: Is John Kerry changing the playing field too much when he puts the Botox into his forehead? One future Hall of Famer, Rafael Palmiero, got indignant at the senate investigation when asked about Anabolics. Yet he and Bob Dole are the advert-faces of Viagra. And Palmiero is maybe 40? That's a bit too young to juice up that end of the performance spectrum, no?

To hop on the buzzword freight, who do we really care to hold accountable for their actions? How much do we let folks look for an edge? How much is the unfair edge? Who has access to the edge is the important heart of the matter in a democracy. I tend to get most concerned if what the players are doing seems to be going way beyond what the average American is doing to stay afloat.

Is baseball really the final "frontier of democracy" where "all rules apply equally to all participants?" Or is, like politics, a battle between a few players with money?
The struggle to make sure the rules apply equally to all participants is ongoing. So I think, at any given time, the game can seem more or less a fair contest between those with equal opportunity. We have certainly come some distance when half the ballplayers are not from the Euro-gene pool. I still think the real class struggle is more between the players and management.

I see baseball as a "final frontier of democracy" in that sense that what goes on in the game has often been at the avant-garde of where America is trying to get to next. Baseball broke the color line before Mississippi did. And there is the ongoing battle over who gets compensated for the entertainment revenue generated by the game. The players went too far during the Black Sox scandal, trying to even the playing field with their miserly owner by fixing a World Series. But, there was and is a larger American dynamic here. In the same way that more than just the players are responsible for creating an environment wherein current players take Steroids, the owners of 1919 baseball teams, and the gambling fans of the day (also an ongoing issue), were just as responsible for creating the environment for a rig job as the Black Sox themselves. And again, I think these issues surfaced in the popular consciousness in baseball before they have in the population at large. I still think that Americans tend to want to blame labor even when management abuses affect so many more folks.

To answer more directly, the contest for championships will tend to be between the players that make the most money. But that seems okay to me. If we're gonna keep going the capitalist way, I don't have a problem with the talent making the money. Because the owners have done even better. When owners of "small market teams" jaw about how they can't compete, I'm not that sympathetic. Particularly when a guy like Carl Poland, the owner of the Minnesota Twins, tries to get the league to pay HIM to shut his team down. Poland's team is actually quite successful, a small market team that, through smart management, has won more titles (2) than many big market teams (The Sox Red and White, The Cubs, The Angels etc). And when I found out that Poland made his millions doing house foreclosures during the depression, then I'm seeing red, seeing Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life" - the small town buzz kill to the extreme.

Where I do have my problems is that, in baseball and society rules, talent is now too often judged based on numbers. When players want to get a raise, if they are not free agents, they go to arbitration. And then some judge, who may not even understand the game, rewards the player with the best statistics, not the best team skills. A-Rod gets more than Derek Jeter. A-Rod has proven that he is a beautiful athlete capable of doing many wonderful things. But Jeter is the guy who has the skills the benefit the greater good. My Yanks were floundering for years as aging, overpaid also-rans, and then this dude shows up (along with Joe Torre, that wise manager of talent who lets the talent find it's own way to being a team) and the team always plays meaningful games in October.

This all plays out in our body politic. Bankers get way more money than teachers. And teachers are way more important. I see Jeter as the teacher (his father was a teacher, his mother a social worker), A-Rod the banker. Jeter - only the best-paid teacher ever!

In your show, George Bush's team is called the "Houston Texar- fascists" because they have more money and more access. Are the Yankees the real-life equivalent of the T-Fascists?
In some ways, yes. And that has sometimes made it hard for me to root for my Yanks. It would be so much more romantic, would feed my underdog soul better, to root for the Red Sox. But I was raised by a Yankee fan, and I love the history of the team. I'm a history guy. The thing is (uh-oh, here comes one of the bigger self-rationalizations) the Yankees do spend their greater access to capital on a product that many people are very happy to purchase. And the product is good. And when the Yanks spend the money right, they tend to spread it out to many folks all over the baseball globe. They found the first big Panamanian star. They invested in Japanese imports early in that game. I know this makes the players sound like commodities, but there talent is their product to sell - and the best players will always play with soul that transcends $$evaluation.

I think that the teams that spend the big cash on the most bulbous power-hitters to put in their taxpayer built retro-30's ballparks are the real Texar-Fascists. Sometimes that's the Yankees, but more often than not, it's the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers - who never win championships.

Where the Yanks run into trouble, as many aging corporations do, is when they start overpaying the big all-ready well established guys who probably are on the downside of their careers. Getting Giambi was a Texar-Fascist move. Though now I do want the guy to get his redemption. At least he told the truth to the Feds. Bonds said he thought the steroid cream was linseed oil. Which sounds like a lie to me.

Several of the stories you use in your performance have a redemptive quality to them and you seem to have a slight dislike of President Bush. If you were to write a story of redemption for President Bush, how would it go?
Bush's redemption. It's now in the show in the form of a dream. I’m the manager of the Yankees. And even though he's the President, I bench him. I bench him for benching the Constitution and United Nations. And I tell him to watch and learn. And then, in a key moment, I let him pinch hit in a situation where a single will do more good than him swinging for the fences ? a walk will do more than him going all shock and awe on us. And he looks out on the field, sees what is really needed, not just what he wants to do, and he hits a single up the middle to tie the score and lets my guy Jeter hit the game winning homer later.

2005 Yankees, what's wrong with them? Do you see them making the playoffs? If so, will they win anything?
The Yankees are old. Not just old in the joints. Old in the soul. They are used to knowing who they are on a team and each of the players is very used to that certain role. Many of them have been "the man" on some other team with less talent so don't have the little ball skill-sets. Which is a problem. What they lack is the guys who don't try to do it all themselves. The Mets now have Miguel Cairo - he was my favorite little ball guy on the Yanks last year. He can bunt, run a bit, play a bunch of positions. Sure hands. Long at-bats. Guys with smaller contracts do end up doing important during a race for a championship.

But I still think the Yanks will make the playoffs. Some good signs of late. Jason Giambi (of all players) got on with a walk, noticed that he was not being held close to the bag by the first baseman, got the okay from Torre in the dugout, and ran when Bernie Williams made contact. This meant that the infielders ran to cover their bases and that opened up a hole for the ball to go through. So instead of a double play to end a threat, the Yanks had men on first and third, and the beginning of the rally that would win the game. This is baseball dork stuff, but it's what makes any passion interesting - the details of how things really happen and how teams really succeed.

Assuming you were the general manager of the Yankees, what moves would you make to make sure next year doesn't go quite as poorly as this year?
I would let them play this season out as is. They have little young talent to trade for more expensive stars. They need to let some of the expensive stars go and start getting into the market for the next young talent. Again, balance. Got to have the old vets who have been there, but you also have to make room for the young guys to give the team organic juice. I say keep Jeter, Posada, A-rod (he's starting to get the team thing and he is an amazing talent), Matsui, the new kid at 2nd Cano, maybe Bernie for DH, Mo is still good and the rest are trade-able given the right trade. I like Mussina - though he is a bit of a diva sometimes.

When you just need to get away from it all, where is your favorite place in NYC to be alone?
To really get away in New York, I go to hotel bars - but in hotels that are sort of suburban. I forget I'm in NC, forget myself in the Times Square Novotel.

Describe that low-low moment where you thought you might leave NYC for good.
Definitely debated this with my wife after 9-11. But leaving seemed a bit weak then. I will say that if the real estate market gets any more nuts, it may be time for Montreal. Though I better look at the property listings there, eh?

What place or thing would you declare a landmark?
Yankee Stadium obviously, if it hasn’t already been designated so. Some significant marker should be put on the site of Ebbets field (it's a project now) to commemorate the breaking of the color barrier. That's a major event in American History. 1947 was well before Little Rock ('55?).

What advice, if any, would you give Mayor Bloomberg?
Always remember to listen. Sometimes, because he has a pretty good sense of the bottom line, he doesn't listen so well to people who don't live for the money = the real estate. But strange to say, since I'm a Dem (but isn't he really one too?), I kind of like the guy. He does seem pretty human for a bean counter extra-ordinaire. An accountant who has some taste for the arts is not too bad for a city that does need to watch the money trail closely at all times. I just wish he wasn't secretly a Red Sox fan.

Visit Paul at PaulBoocock.com. His show, "Boocock's House of Baseball," runs from June 30th through July 23rd. Purchase tickets here. Photos by Theo Stanley.