Entitled "You're Not Special," McCullough wisely urges his students to break free from the false sense of achievement that today's "everybody gets a trophy!" culture has fostered. He believes that the class of 2012 should instead pursue fulfillment on a path created by a quest for personal excellence.
It's a nice speech and exactly the type of paradigm-challenging work you'd expect from the son of famous historian David McCullough Sr., but for one problem.
McCullough loses sight of his main thesis — and the current AL East standings! — when he forces a baseball reference into his message.
Don't bother with work you don't believe in any more than you would a spouse you're not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison. Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction.
Hey now! That would be the same first-place Orioles team that owns a four-game lead in the AL East standings over the last-place Red Sox. The same Orioles who are riding a seven-game winning streak at Fenway Park after a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night. Oh, and the same Orioles franchise that beat Boston five out of seven games late last September to help drive the final nail into one of the biggest postseason race collapses in baseball history.
Given what the Orioles have recently done despite their roadblocks, it's exactly the type of story you'd think that McCullough would want his charges to emulate as they go out into the world, no? But no. There's McCullough pretending that Robert Andino never happened in an attempt to get a chortle out of his partisan crowd of cap-wearing captives.
Yeah, yeah, we get it: The Orioles haven't achieved anything the past 15 years or so. It's been the type of run that earns you a spot as a laugh line in a commencement address.
But listen to what McCullough was saying himself. Like Mark McGwire, he wasn't behind that lectern to talk about the past. He was there to talk about the future. And if he really wanted to work a baseball reference into a speech that mockingly mentioned everyone getting a trophy, he might have referenced the second wild-card spot that baseball just added to each league.
You know, the one that Red Sox fans would be more than glad to have right now.