Monday, May 10, 2010

Speling is for Ccks

Brought to You by the Wieners in Washington 

Disclaimer: the following column contains photographic evidence of a naughty word that you may well find offensive and/or funny, provided you’re not one of those folks with lifeless, burned-out little cinders where your souls used to be.

Bobby Cox, the longtime manager of the Atlanta Braves, was honored—sort of—by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, to commemorate his long and distinguished career in major league baseball. At the end of the 2010 baseball season, Cox will step down from the job he’s held for twenty-five years, during which time he led his team to multiple World Series appearances and one World Championship. Two U.S. Senators, Georgia’s Johnny Isakson and West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller, praised Cox in statements to be entered into the Congressional Record, and then presented Cox with a cake thanking him—sort of—for the half-century he’s dedicated to playing, coaching, and teaching the sport he loves.

I’m encouraged by our two governing parties’ willingness to occasionally put aside their unhealthy partisan bickering and work together in a respectful and possibly even friendly way—Senator Isakson is a Republican, and Rockefeller is a Democrat—and would be even more pleased if they occasionally did so towards some end that wasn’t, in the grand scheme of things, as utterly insignificant as talking about baseball.

Unfortunately, though, the event turned out to be at least as much of a black eye as a feather in anyone’s cap. If you haven’t heard about this already, the cake makers got the Braves manager’s name wrong. And no, they didn’t misspell “Bobby.”1

Whether this was deliberate or an accident is hardly the issue, at least for me. If it was deliberate, it’s certainly a rude and nasty thing to do, and it’s so troubling, childish, and offensive that I doubt I’ll giggle at it for more than a couple more days. What’s more important and disturbing to me—and what should be embarrassing to anybody who caught a look at the cake before it was presented—is that it somehow made it all the way from the cake shop to the Capitol without being noticed, mentioned, or corrected. The odds against this happening should be astronomical, for several reasons:

1. Only three managers in baseball history (Connie Mack, John McGraw, and Tony LaRussa) have more wins than Bobby Cox. No other manager in history can match his fifteen division titles. He’s a four-time Manager of the Year, and has won five National League championships and one World Series, having beaten the equally-insensitively-named Cleveland Indians in 1995. In other words, he’s pretty well known, and if you’re not immediately familiar with his name or who he is, he’s quite easy to look up online. Seriously, try it yourself. If it takes you more than about six seconds to find the right way to spell his name, either your computer is broken or you're some sort of stupid cock.

2. Nobody on Earth has ever, ever had the last name of “Cocks.” Seriously. And anybody who isn’t aware of this fact isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, allowed to work in government because they are—that’s right—stupid cocks.

3. A pretty typical going rate for first-class proofreading is around $25 per hour. The time it takes to read “Thanks For 50 Great years, Bobby Cocks”—seven words—is approximately 4 seconds, or just under $0.03 for the whole job.2 Three cents to keep the folks in our government from looking like really, really stupid cocks is money well spent.

4. The estimated budget for the U.S. government for fiscal year end 2010 is 3.552 trillion dollars. If my math holds up, the cost to hire (for example) me to proofread this cake would have represented right around 0.0000000000008% of our national budget. Or to put it a different way, it would have cost three cents (see above). I paid more than three cents in taxes this year, so the government has the money . . . and even if the government didn’t have the money, has that ever stopped them before?

5. While I’m not intimately familiar with the paths baked goods take through Capitol Hill security, I have to imagine that at some point this cake probably would have been taken out of its box and actually looked at, possibly poked at or scanned to make sure it wasn’t actually a delicious but deadly explosive. All it took was one page, or aide, or lobbyist, or security dude with a wand to look at it and say to somebody “hey, you do realize that this word means ‘dicks,’ right?” And that didn’t happen

I suppose I’m making this a bigger deal than it really is,3 and I understand that this particular typo didn’t appear on, say, landmark legislation or a nuclear anti-proliferation treaty—as far as we know—but if nobody out there has the brains to notice an embarrassing, offensive, and obvious misspelling of a famous man’s very simple name, what the hell kinds of mistakes are we allowing into our nuclear anti-proliferation treaties?

As embarrassing as this is, we should all be thankful that the cake people were asked only to write out the guy’s name. If they’d been told to draw a picture of Cox, who knows what we would have ended up with. I certainly wouldn’t have posted it here.4

1. Photo from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, used without permission but also without malice, intent to defraud, or possibility of financial gain, and all in the spirit of good fun.
2. For what it’s worth, the letter F in “For” should not be capitalized, and the letter Y in “Years” should be.
3. Just like a typical guy.
4. For the record, lest you think I’m a Braves fan, I’m not. I’m still mad that they beat the Rockies in the 1995 Wild Card round, and the Tomahawk Chop may well be the stupidest thing on Earth—D.C.-area cake decorators not included.


  1. You should have called the post "Speling is for Cox" ;-)

  2. You're right, damn it. Where were you five days ago when I was writing this thing in the first place?

  3. "Delicious but deadly explosive" made me laugh out loud in my living room!

  4. For what it's worth, there is a Congressman Dicks from the state of Washington. His son, David Dicks, is head of a Washington state environmental agency. Which led one keen observer (me) to comment, "[o]ur state government is full of Dicks." Not sure what this has to do with your funny column, but I just wanted to contribute. I'm done now.

  5. No joke, I used to work for a guy named "Dick Heiman".