away at the forms of ethics, philosophy,nand worship, milhons chng everntighter to the artifice of sports, lest theynfall into Chaos. Many fans wouldnprobably “cut the game,” if not for annagging fear that life beyond the playingnfield is pointless. At night the ballnpark is brightly lit and comprehensible,nwhile the world beyond lies submergednin darkness and confusion.nInevitably, Americans begin to regardnsports figures not as the likablenentertainers that many of them are,nbut as superhuman heroes, gods almost.nIn the contrast between twonrecent biographies of outstandingnAmerican athletes, Kenny Stabler andnMickey Mantle, we see the sorry butnpredictable decline in character of thenidols. Mickey Mantle captured thenlimelight as a slugging outfielder fornthe New York Yankees in the 1950’snand 60’s; Stabler won his glory as ansouthpaw quarterback for the OaklandnRaiders during the 1970’s. In differentnways, both epitomized their respectiveneras: a decent family man playing ancivilized game—Mantle belonged tonthe Age of Eisenhower—and a recklessnplayboy starring in a brutal sport,nas Stabler enthralled the Me Generation.nAfflicted with osteomyelitis. Mantlenplayed—in pain—even when he hadnto be taped from toe to waist. Stabler’snbiggest athletic handicap may havenbeen his own high living: He partiednall night even before big games. Mantiendoes apologize in print for drinkingntoo much and neglecting his wife. Butn(at least to judge from his book) he wasnnever unfaithful, and he made hisnmarriage work. Stabler boasts of hisnmarathon drinking and of his numerousnsexual conquests. He laughs off hisnrepeated marital failures.nThere are, however, significantncontinuities which tie the two booksntogether. Mickey Mantle was one ofnthe heroes held up to Stabler by hisnPony League coach in Foley, Alabama,nand Stabler actually met Mantlenat the 1968 Cotton Bowl. A star innboth baseball and football, Stabler receivednan offer to join the Yankeesnwhile Mantie was still with the club,nbut declined, thinking he’d “makenmore money in the long run pitchingnpigskin instead of horsehide.”nBoth men express unusually strongnfeelings towards their fathers, mennwho proved their rugged masculinitynoff the playing field: Mantie’s as a leadnminer, Stabler’s as a hunter, fisherman,nand auto mechanic. Both menndeeply admire competitors and teammates,nbut neither tries to hide his ownnego when talking about past athleticnfeats. In their eagerness to establishntheir respective places in the athleticnpantheon, both slip into the narrownmindset of a scorekeeper. When notnswapping statistics, both men liked tonpull pranks and carouse with the boys,nthough Stabler’s pranks often becamenbrawls and his carousing was obsessivenand licentious.nNeither man ever completed a collegendegree nor felt the need for one; innfact. Stabler did play football for fournyears at the University of Alabama.nNeither man seems to have acquired anperspective on his own status as anpopular entertainer pursuing contrivedngoals, nor does either appear to havenever wondered about the kind of societynwhich lavishes so much attentionnon ordinary men blessed with strongnMistletoenby Diana ShawnGreen trees in the bare.nFlourishing in the briars;nVerb. sap. to Despair;nItinerant, preaching friars,nCircled round a copsenOf baring winter trees;nRequiem for the corpse.nDaring winter freeze.narms and quick reflexes.nMantle’s moral decency, thoughnlaudable, appears perhaps more a matternof prevalent social conventionsnthan of personal conviction, and suchndecency is not held in place by thenrules of baseball. Never catechized innany gospel except baseball, basketball,nand football, nor ever taught about anynhigher gods than Mantie and the legendaryn”Bear” Bryant, Stabler reachednthe only logical conclusion: If there isnSCORPIONS IN A BOTTLEnJeane Kirkp^tiricit*nIrving KristolnSidney Hooi<nWilliam BennettnJoseph SobrannMelvin LaskynPeter BergernMichael Novakn$5.00 PAPERBOUNDnWrite for our free catalog. All orders include ancomplimentary subscription to montlilynImprimis essay series.nHILLSDALE COLLEGE PRESSnHillsdale, Michigan 49242nnnJUNE 1987/31n