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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

May 1, 2006


Terry Alexander brought his second place Jacksonville Dolphins to Boca this weekend, and left town in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference. JU's sweep dropped us into ninth place and brought our record to a disappointing 22-22. JU dominated in all phases of the game winning handily in the first and third games, and hanging tough for an 8-7 victory in the second. The Dolphins have had some injuries to their pitching staff that worry their coaches, but their offense and defense are solid. We were outclassed.

Before the series, I felt that we needed to concentrate on three areas to give us our best chance- pitching, defense, and base running. Despite my best hopes for solid play in those areas, we seemed to be at our worst in those phases of the game. A look at the stats for the weekend says it all-33 runs on 43 hits and 10 errors. When you factor in several instances of poor base running which hurt our chances, it was a perfect trifecta of failure.

Now we find ourselves with three conference series to play, and a game out of the last spot in the tournament field. The good news is that two of our remaining series are against Lipscomb and East Tennessee, two of the teams we trail by one game. The bad news is that the schedule also includes three games with Stetson who has been red hot for the past month.

So our path is clearly marked.

We need to avoid a sweep at Stetson and win the other two series to have a realistic chance.

I'm just dumb enough to say, "So you're say'in there's a chance?"


Usually the men in blue who occupy my thoughts are the umpires who so often seem to see things differently than I do. However, Thursday I was surrounded by some other men in blue, as I watched my son Jim graduate from the Palm Beach County Police Academy. Today he was sworn in as an officer in the Boynton Beach Police Department.

On February 19, 1999 a young black man from Guinea, Amadou Diallo, was shot 41 times by four New York City police officers in the vestibule of his apartment building. The police officers testified that they believed Diallo was reaching for a gun. He was unarmed. The pocket he reached for held his wallet and ID.

The officers were acquitted of charges of murder.

The Diallo case received national attention and was the focus of a great deal of protest in New York City, being called a clear instance of racial profiling. President Clinton, influenced by the case, called for increased police officers on the streets. The story was national news for awhile and then the media moved on to other stories.

At an Atlanta concert in June of that same year, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played a new song called American Skin. The band's next stop was New York City for the completion of their tour. I was visiting New Jersey at the time and heard the media coverage of a Springsteen song that was being described as "anti-police". Police were being urged to boycott the upcoming concerts, and to refuse to work the venue.

The song contains only 89 words, repeated over and over. The line "41 shots" is repeated 28 times.

One could see that it might be mistaken for an indictment of police.

However, if you pay attention to the lyrics you see that the police are portrayed as having made a horrible mistake. They pray for the life of their victim.

I've always believed that part of the song is sung from the viewpoint of the police- here is the first part of the song;

41 shots ( repeated 7 times)
and we'll take that ride
`cross this bloody river
to the other side
41 shots...cut through the night
You're kneeling over his body in the vestibule
Praying for his life

Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain't no secret
It ain't no secret
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living
In your American skin

Every cop on the street is faced with the challenge of protecting their community at risk to his own life. In a stress-filled situation a citizen reaches for his it a gun, is it a knife, is it a wallet, this is your life.

As I sat in the audience, surrounded by officers and their chiefs, men and women who have made their career choice one which presents such a deadly challenge, I prayed for my son and his fellow graduates.

Their lives will never be the same.

They have chosen to be different from the rest of us. Jim and his classmates will spend the rest of their working lives living in their "American Skin", the uniform of a law enforcement officer. My prayer is that none of them is ever faced with the situation in this song. I pray that they see through the "American Skin" of the people they encounter, and make good choices out on the street.

I pray that he comes home every night. KC

Information regarding the Diallo case and the controversy over American Skin was taken from Samuele F.S. Pardini's "Bruce Springsteen's `American Skin.'" ARTVOICE, June 2000.



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