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It seems to us . . . Pitching safety in high school and mourning Shakespearean setbacks

THE CLINK OF THE BAT: OK, we know it's still hockey season, and we hope that continues for weeks and weeks to come. But some folks are playing baseball, and there already have been a couple of impressive wins -- for traditionalists, and for safety.

One of those wins is named Dave Thomas, Buffalo schools athletic director, who simply decreed administratively that public high school baseball teams will use wood bats rather than metal ones, which rocket balls back toward pitchers and pose injury risks. Took a little more doing in New York City, where the City Council had to override a mayoral veto 41-4 to uphold a metal bat ban for high school games -- but at least, like Dave, they got it right.

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THE BARD STRIKES OUT: Want a measure of the steady decline of Western civilization? Try this -- an American Council of Trustees and Alumni report indicates that only 15 of the English departments at Big Ten schools, the top 25 liberal arts colleges and U.S. News & World Report's 25 highest-ranked universities require students to take a course on Shakespeare. In 1996, 23 did. The decline is a blow for common culture, and the humanities. Alas, poor Will, we knew you well -- once upon a time.

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