Brooklyn Dodger legend Duke Snider died yesterday. In the 1950’s the Yankees had Mickey Mantle, the Giants had Willie Mays, and the Dodgers had the Duke. They all played centerfield in New York City and one or two of them were in every World Series from 1949-1957. People fiercely debated which centerfielder was the best, and while everyone now agrees that Mays had the best career, and that Mantle was one of the greatest players of all time, the Duke had an argument to make:

Playing for 18 seasons, Snider had 407 home runs and 2,116 hits. He batted at least .300 seven times, had a lifetime batting average of .295 and was generally among the league leaders in runs batted in and runs…

…A swift outfielder, a slick fielder and a No. 3 hitter with reliable power in the clutch, he hit 40 or more home runs in five consecutive seasons, something neither Mays nor Mantle ever achieved, and a feat matched by only two other National Leaguers: Ralph Kiner and Barry Bonds.

Of course, Barry Bonds was juiced out of his mind, so we should discount his achievement. A lot of Dodger fans are mourning their loss today. All baseball fans should tip their cap to one of the most outstanding ballplayers in the history of the game.

Speaking of which, I love everything about Derek Jeter. I love how he plays the game and I love how he conducts himself with the media, I admire how he excelled in the steroids era without taking steroids, and I love how he’s never embarrassed the Yankee organization or its fan base. But I gotta say that his house is too damn big for a single guy. Since it’s in the Tampa area, at least he doesn’t have to heat it, but I wonder what it costs to air condition. Seriously, WTF is he thinking?

In other news, there was some union solidarity at The Oscars last night.

At the Academy Awards tonight, best cinematography winner Wally Pfister made a point during his acceptance speech of thanking his union crew on “Inception.”

Backstage he went further, expressing shock at Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal, which would limit union’s collective bargaining powers. Opponents of the plan have been protesting at the state capitol for 21 days.

“I think that what is going on in Wisconsin is kind of madness right now,” Pfister says. “I have been a union member for 30 years and what the union has given to me is security for my family. They have given me health care in a country that doesn’t provide health care and I think unions are a very important part of the middle class in America all we are trying to do is get a decent wage and have medical care.

I haven’t seen any of the movies that were nominated, so I have no opinion about the winners. I thought Natalie Portman looked beautiful as she graciously accepted her award. Maybe I’ll go see her film.

There was an interesting debate at the J Street conference, as David Saperstein opened the proceedings by “chastising the group for opposing the recent US veto of a UN resolution condemning Israel settlements.” The key graf:

He noted that so many Jews, on the Left as well as the Right, so distrust the UN on Israel that supporting a resolution is seen as supporting the UN’s stance on the Jewish state.

“You know that the vast majority of the members of Congress that you support and support you while criticizing Israel’s settlement policy cannot support UN condemnation, and you will put them all in a very difficult position, driving some to feel they have to choose between remaining with J Street,” Saperstein said.

Good advice? Maybe. But here’s the response:

J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami, who followed Saperstein on stage, thanked Saperstein for his “inspiring words,” as well “for the challenge” he laid down for the organization.

Ben-Ami told The Jerusalem Post after Saturday night’s event that the organization faces the disadvantage of alienating supporters on controversial decisions, but that “the upside is that J Street stands up for what it believes and maintains the connection to the people who are part of J Street.”

What news are you looking at today?

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