Bill Clinton, the new night clerk at Motel 6, decreed last week that for the foreseeable future, not one federal nickel will be spent on human cloning research. And he asked privately funded geneticists to voluntarily stop such tinkering down in the lab.
What can the man be thinking?
Just when the world is in sore need of more spokespeople, consultants and bureaucrats, our leader passes up the opportunity to create future platoons of Federico Penas and Leon Panettas. Just when his party is running short of funds again, he blows his chance to Xerox the fat-cat contributors who haven't gotten him into hot water.
Get a clue, Mr. President. Cloning is where it's at. Let the philosophers and theologians and scientists continue their flimsy little debate on bio-ethics. Let Time magazine splash Dolly the Sheep and her woolly sibling-mom on the cover and worry for ten or twelve pages inside about the implications. Listen, Bill. What you oughta do, and soon, is take the bull (or the goat) by the horns and make two or three of him.
Likewise, Ken Griffey Jr. And Joe Frazier. And Steffi Graf.
Think of it. With a little encouragement from the Oval Office, lunatic baseball fans who've always wondered what would happen if the 1927 Yankees and 1975 Reds played each other in the World Series could finally get an answer. Surely there's a hank o' hair or a hunk o' bone that once belonged to Babe Ruth lying around the South Bronx somewhere. That's all Dr. Frankenstein would need to manufacture an entire lot of the Sultan of Swat. As for the Big Red Machine, Pete Rose and Tony Perez are still with us, and they probably wouldn't mind giving up a few drops of blood or some skin off their nose in order to one day watch themselves, lean and strong once again, smash a couple of line drives past Lou Gehrig at first.
There are many other possibilities, of course. In last year's movie comedy Multiplicity, Michael Keaton and three clones with clashing personalities vied for dominance and, to complicating effect, slept with the same wife. No such problems would likely arise on the U.S. 4 x 400 relay team in, say, the 2020 Olympics. Michael Johnson would simply blow past everyone in the first 400 meters and pass the baton to Michael Johnson, who would hand off to Michael Johnson and, for the anchor leg, give it to Michael Johnson. Try keeping up with those guys, Czech Republic.
Think most Super Bowls are disappointing? Get the gene-splicers going full-tilt, and before you know it, you've got brand-new versions of Bart Starr, Paul Hornung and the 1966 Packers, primed to do battle with Don Shula's undefeated 1973 Miami Dolphins. Don't like that matchup? How about Mean Joe Greene's Pittsburgh Steelers of the Seventies versus the Joe Montana-Jerry Rice 49ers? And to make things really interesting in the NFL, why not run off thirty copies of Vince Lombardi and give one to each team--even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "Winning isn't the only thing," the assorted Vinces could then declare. "It's everybody's thing."
Would you like to see Billie Jean King play Martina Navratilova in the ladies' final at Wimbledon? Done deal. But be sure to stick around for the men: Bjorn Borg is going to try his famous topspin against the mighty serve of Big Bill Tilden. You should have been here earlier in the week: John McEnroe I got into a really vile shouting match with John McEnroe II. The London tabloids, of course, splashed "DOUBLE FAULT!" all over page one.
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind running out to Belmont Park one Saturday afternoon three or four years from now to watch the big race--although it might be a tough one to handicap. What with Whirlaway, John Henry, Secretariat, Cigar, Affirmed, Man O'War and--count 'em--three Citations going to the post, it would be hard figuring out the exacta. By the way, which of the Eddie Arcaros will out-think the other Eddies while galloping down the backstretch? Do you like the Willie Shoemaker with Gallant Fox underneath him, or the Willie Shoemaker who's riding Seattle Slew?
Let us herald the age when the words "Minnesota Twins" will take on a new meaning, when baseball teams will manufacture mobs of Ty Cobbs, and Waynes' World will mean 99 separate Gretzkys--wearing jerseys numbered 99.1, 99.2, 99.3 and so forth. Hey, Rockies: Get a fresh set of Bichettes every year. And hello, St. Louis: Be on the lookout for Multiple Musial--"Stan: 'The Man' for All Seasons."
Listen. The guys really in the catbird seats once cloning gets up into fifth gear will be the ticket scalpers working Caesars Palace the night of the Muhammad Ali-Rocky Marciano championship fight. Who knows? With Sugar Ray Robinson facing Sugar Ray Leonard on the undercard, ringside seats might go for twenty to thirty thousand a copy, if you'll pardon the expression. Arrive early, though: You won't want to miss a second of the ten-round prelim between Joe Louis and Mike Tyson.
While we're rooting around here in 21st-century science's department of redundancy department, shouldn't we also mention the possibilities of redemption? Any old cloner can stamp out knockoffs of Ozzie Smith like G.I. Joe toys. Even a bio-hack can probably produce factory-fresh John Elways as quickly as Honda Civics. A bit of research might even lead the workaday photocopier to outfielder John Paciorek, the older brother of journeyman Tom Paciorek. John P. played just one game in the major leagues, in 1963, for the Houston Astros. But what a day he had--three hits in three at-bats, along with two bases-on-balls. He scored four runs and drove in three more. Who wouldn't want to reproduce a player with a 1.000 batting average?
It will probably take someone with larger vision to bring another Eddie Cicotte into this world. Or a second Fred Merkle. Or a new version of Buffalo Bills placekicker Scott Norwood, right out of the shipping carton. What bold innovator, meanwhile, might chance an anniversary reprint of the 1962 Mets?
These are worthwhile projects all, if for no other reason than to give certain people the chance to redeem themselves. Hey, how hard could it be to scrape up a little vintage DNA from Cicotte, the Chicago White Sox pitcher who conspired with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series? Give Eddie Number Two another shot at life and maybe he won't foul up. Merkle, of course, made the most notorious base-running error in major-league history--"Merkle's Boner"--which snatched the 1908 National League pennant away from his New York Giants and handed it to the Chicago Cubs. Xerox Merkle, and maybe this time he'd be extra sure to step on second base. That way, he'd be remembered for his bat instead of his boner. And next time around, "Wide Right" Norwood might even win the Super Bowl.
As for those '62 Mets, on second thought, maybe there's a limit to the wonders of science. Let Casey's jokers rest in peace, along with some other Homo sapiens most folks wouldn't really want to see making the rounds again. Any decent list would certainly include Hitler--despite the mad doctor who reproduced him in The Boys From Brazil. Put George Steinbrenner on there--despite his winning the World Series last year. Add O.J. and Nicole, just because everyone's sick of them both, dead or alive. And Imelda Marcos.
Meanwhile, once the factories start cranking out DiMaggios, Walter Paytons and Babe Didricksons like candy bars, the geneticists in charge would probably do well to guard against carelessness. Because of repetition and the resulting boredom, assembly lines can be dangerous places. Even the most highly skilled worker can occasionally screw up. Imagine, for instance, the Michael Jordan plant in Chicago, where the Mike-23 model will someday be manufactured at the rate of 300 units per shift to fulfill demands that every high-school basketball team in America feature a player who can hang above the rim for six seconds. Imagine one little slip-up, one tiny mishandling of new skin-cell samples messengered over from the United Center. Before anyone could do anything to stop it, every gymnasium in the country might be stuck with its own All-Rodman Team.
Word now comes from on high that the Broncos will play an exhibition game in early August in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Good. Stay there.
Too bad the Donks aren't visiting Shanghai in August. Or Murmansk. Or Uranium City, Saskatchewan. Any of those places would make an even better new home for a team owner who's worn out his welcome here. But Guadalajara will have to do.
Pat Bowlen and his unindicted co-conspirator, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, clearly believe that they can point their little popguns at the citizens of Denver and those citizens will dutifully reach into their pockets and build Bowlen a new football stadium.
If people here have any sense, they'll not only vote down Pat and Tag's bold-faced extortion scheme, they'll chase Bowlen out of town with six-shooters.
Let the Guadalajara Broncos wear those Halloween costumes. Let the Guadalajara Broncos turn to jelly against Jacksonville. Let the Guadalajara Broncos fall apart every time they feel heat.
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Bucko the Bronco isn't the only horse in town anymore, Patty baby. The Stanley Cup champs are hard at work right across the parking lot. There's a major-league baseball club here that sells out every game. And the Nuggets are...well, for now, let's forget what the Nuggets are.
But the truth of the matter is that this is not 1960, Patty, and NFL football around here simply isn't some kind of cultural or psychological necessity anymore--if it ever was. So when you point your gun at the most loyal fans in the NFL, those fans are liable to snatch it away from you and stick it up your butt.
Adios, amigo. Remember to order bottled water.