Today at THT

It’s Inauguration Day.

Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows that my favorite president of all time was William Henry Harrison. I can’t help it: I’m a staunch enemy of the spoils system and greatly believe in the Bank of the United States, as did my father before me.

Of course, the only thing most people know about the first President Harrison is that he died 30 days after taking office, having caught a cold which developed into pneumonia after delivering a nearly two-hour, 9,000 word inaugural address on a cold and rainy March afternoon. Which is oft-repeated bunk, of course, because weather does not cause such illnesses — viruses do — and because Harrison showed no signs of illness for nearly two weeks after the inauguration. The White House was a more open kind of place back in 1841, and the fact is that he probably caught his death from one of the hundreds if not thousands of grubby antebellum Americans marching through his home looking for a cushy federal job.

Why do I mention all of this? The primary reason is that Harrison is one of the many comically ineffective and/or downright pathetic Ohioan presidents, and he and his ilk have fascinated me since I moved to this godforsaken state over 17 years ago. These guys died empty and now largely forgotten deaths, drank themselves into stupors, and either obtained their offices in a fraudulent manner or conducted themselves fraudulently after being elected. The only one who wasn’t pathetic or tragic on one level or another was Benjamin Harrison, and despite his Ohio roots, he claimed Indiana as his home, the traitor. I mention his grandfather because no one else ever does, and that’s kind of sad.

The second reason I mention this is because today it’s supposed to be in the 20s and spitting snow as Obama takes the stage in D.C., and I don’t want any of you needlessly worrying about his health. True, Obama didn’t fight any Indian wars and was never Minister Plenipotentiary to Colombia, but I suppose his overall athleticism makes him nearly as tough as Old Tippecanoe, so even if cold weather did cause pleurisy, he’ll be just fine.

But that’s later today. This morning at THT:

  • Josh Kalk performs an absolutely amazing breakdown of umpire Angel Hernandez’s strike zone. Baseball analysts have long been a source of anger because they are basically telling fans that the players they think to be good really aren’t and vice-versa. How unpopular do you think they’ll be now that they’re telling fans that, no actually, the umpire they think jobbed their team isn’t blind?
  • Steve Treder continues his BR-TL series, this time focusing on third basemen. Hey, a Ken Oberkfell sighting!
  • Finally, over at Fantasy Focus, Paul Singman continues FF’s look at how seriously you should take mock drafts. Also, there’s a new installment of the THT Fantasy Mailbag. Best thing about it: no references to “Hoosiers,” “The Karate Kid,” or our talk show-level famous friends.
  • And yes, I’ll be watching the inauguration today. Not because I care about history as such, but rather, because I placed a prop bet with a Swedish bookie that Obama would utter the word “pants” at some point in his speech, and if that comes in baby, life will be grand indeed.

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    1. YankeesfanLen said...

      You think you have it bad?  Try New Jersey- we have Grover Cleveland- he brought the flaming rivers, and Woodrow Wilson he brought the what?- intellectual bent that has been forever imbedded in Secaucus- at least until MLB network was brought in.

    2. Craig Calcaterra said...

      Yeah, I guess Cleveland did suck in a non-consecutive sort of way, but at least he was famously not crooked.  As for Wilson, well, they named my high school after him, so that’s something.  They even had a big statue of him out front that had its hand positioned in such a way that you could stick a cigarette between his fingers, and that was always good for yuks.

    3. MooseinOhio said...

      Craig – I’m impressed, no easy shot at William “El Gordo” Taft and the need for a new bath tub in the White House in your discussion of Ohio’s presidential history.  Taft was the ‘father of the first pitch’, a great tradition in baseball, and part of the urban myth of the seventh inning stretch tradition as well.

    4. Craig Calcaterra said...

      I didn’t want to put too fine a point on Taft’s fatness, so I just kind of included him in the general category of “pathetic.”  Also pathetic in that he was basically T.R.‘s bitch, inasmuch as he would never have made it into office without him and he never would have been voted out of office if it weren’t because of him.  Then again, Taft hated being president, so maybe it was a good thing.

      Doesn’t make him any less pathetic, though.

    5. Rob said...

      Interesting point about viruses.  I recently heard someone on the radio who had been studying flu virus and claimed that cold weather (anything less than 40­°F) greatly improves the viability of the flu virus.  The colder temperature also improves the internal environment of the human body so that the virus is much more likely to survive long enough to cause infection.

    6. MooseinOhio said...

      On the virus front – a leading researcher on the rhinovirus (the one that causes colds) say that the anti-bacterial gels may actually feed the virus as the virus appears to consume the alcohol in the gel.  While the gel is effective with other viruses it seems to have the opposite effect when used to defeat the alcohol loving common cold (soon to be named the Winehouse effect).

    7. Dave Studeman said...

      Did you know that William Henry Harrison once proposed to Hannah Cooper, the daughter of William Cooper, who founded Cooperstown, which is now home to the Baseball Hall of Fame?

      Everything, my friend, comes back to baseball.

    8. Levi Stahl said...

      But you Ohioans will always have Mark Hanna—that’s almost like having an effective president from your state.

      Oh, and Benjamin Harrison would surely win a “U.S. President Who Looks Most Like Joseph Conrad Contest.”

    9. tadthebad said...

      Someone’s been watching the “Presidents” series on the History Channel, huh?  That Andrew Jackson was a real bastard…

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