Comment of the Day

I think that, with this comment, J.W. gets at the core of a good third of the baseball debates that go on around here and elsewhere:

I agree that Manny doesn’t deserve adulation or admiration. Neither does A-Rod (for cheating on his wife, etc.) But this brings us to a difficult question regarding entertainment. Can we divorce entertainment from the men and women who play the role of entertainer? Can we like Woody Allen movies and still disapprove of his conduct towards his wife and one-time step-daughter? Can we watch and enjoy Roman Polanski films? Can we listen to Chris Brown’s music? Michael Jackson’s?

I, for one, find it difficult to enjoy the products of people that I know are less than admirable. I had always been a staunch A-Rod supporter until the issues with his wife arose. Now it’s harder for me to watch him bat. And yet, I enjoy baseball and am a Yankees fan. So when he gets a big hit, it’s hard for me not to feel some satisfaction. I happen to enjoy Woody Allen films, but am definitely not completely comfortable watching them. I think Manny Ramirez is not worthy of cheers. But I think that people have the right to want the Dodgers to win, and he’s going to be a part of that and in that capacity—baseball player, hitter, part of a winning team—he’s going to be cheered. It’s a complicated situation, with definite gray areas. The people who send comments to blogs that read “Manny Manny Manny,” are probably morons. But they’re probably morons for reasons other than and in addition to their love of Manny Ramirez. In my opinion rooting for Manny Ramirez, while not something I would do, does not necessarily make you a bad person. Trying to excuse domestic abuse, well that does. I’m not sure it’s fair to equate those two actions.

I can usually ignore the personal baggage and enjoy the entertainment. Usually. “Chinatown” and “Annie Hall” are two of my favorite movies, but I have a much harder time watching “Manhattan” and “Tess.” I guess what that means is that if the performance is really, really good, I’m willing to put aside the baggage. Or heck, maybe it’s all just the performance talking because “Chinatown” > “Tess” and I don’t know that I need to reference Polanski’s issues to not like the latter as much as the former.

But it is worth thinking about. Do those who disapprove of Manny, Manny, Manny (and others) disapprove of the transgression or of the person? Is there even a valuable distinction to be made there? More relevantly, is it possible to enjoy baseball while disapproving of those who play it?

My answer to that last question is an obvious yes, within limits. Steroid use really doesn’t bother me that much from an enjoyment-of-the-game perspective. I enjoyed 1998 and 2001 and all of that stuff, and I’m not now going to pretend I didn’t. I’d have a hard time watching Roger Clemens pitch today, but that’s because of the Mindy McCready business, not the juice. Not that philandering baseball players in general bother me — no one knows what goes on in anyone’s marriage so it’s probably best not to judge too harshly unless you have all of the facts — but Clemens was messing with a kid on an emotional level at the very least.

Let’s see what else: I have no tolerance for domestic violence, so the Brett Myers and Bobby Chouniards of the world can die in a fire as far as I’m concerned. Some of my favorite artists and just about all of my favorite writers were drunks, so while I’d wish people wouldn’t do that to themselves, it’s not going to keep me from enjoying what they do. Pete Rose turned out to be a piece of crap, but if he were playing in 1973 form today and all of that stuff hit the fan I’d enjoy his game until the moment he was banned. Basically, if you avoid violence, cruelty and the mistreatment of kids, I’m probably going to still buy your product even if I wouldn’t seek you out at a party.

I guess that still leaves me conflicted about Polanski. But man, there’s no way I’m going to give up one of my favorite DVDs. Forget it Jake; it’s “Chinatown.”

Print Friendly
 Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone
« Previous: Marlins-Yanks
Next: Even more Manny outrage »

Comments

  1. Jacob said...

    “I have no tolerance for domestic violence, so the Brett Myers and Bobby Chouniards of the world can die in a fire as far as I’m concerned.”

    Thank you.

  2. Rob² said...

    Perhaps a minor point, but Woody Allen was never married to Mia Farrow.  It doesn’t really change the ethics involved, but it does change the legality (e.g., Allen was never Soon-Yi’s legal stepfather).

  3. Andy H said...

    I love Richard Wagner’s operas, but he was by all accounts a colossal jerk and an anti-Semite.  The Nazis loved his music, and it is currently unofficially banned in Israel.  But he lived a long time ago and there is nothing inherently anti-Semitic about his music, so I listen and enjoy.  (I have to confess that I don’t know enough about Polanski or Allen to know why I might not want to watch their movies.  I don’t know who Chris Brown is.)

    Manny, and other PED users, are different.  Even if PED use isn’t as morally bad as some other things athletes have done, there is a direct connection between their immoral act and the entertainment they provide.  It is more difficult for me to enjoy watching a player who has cheated at baseball than one who has cheated on his wife.

  4. Craig Calcaterra said...

    I think the point with Allen is that Previn was pretty young when he entered her life and there’s all sorts of unseemliness about that.  And the way he works his camera over Mariel Hemmingway in “Manhattan” kind of creeps me out too.

  5. Vin said...

    “Basically, if you avoid violence, cruelty and the mistreatment of kids, I’m probably going to still buy your product even if I wouldn’t seek you out at a party.”

    I think this is a pretty good rule of thumb for this stuff. Steroids really never bothered me much – yeah, I wish they’d go away, but with all the contradictions and perverse incentives in today’s game, not to mention the fact that it was never ‘pure,’ I can’t really get too worked up about it. But I would never, EVER, draft Brett Myers for my fantasy team, and if he were on my real team, I would not cheer for him.

  6. J.W. said...

    “Basically, if you avoid violence, cruelty and the mistreatment of kids, I’m probably going to still buy your product even if I wouldn’t seek you out at a party.”

    I think this is a pretty good rule of thumb for this stuff. Steroids really never bothered me much – yeah, I wish they’d go away, but with all the contradictions and perverse incentives in today’s game, not to mention the fact that it was never ‘pure,’ I can’t really get too worked up about it. But I would never, EVER, draft Brett Myers for my fantasy team, and if he were on my real team, I would not cheer for him.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Rob—Thanks for clearing up the Allen point. I should have done my research before writing.

  7. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    I continue to root for the laundry.  Otherwise, I’d be rooting for too many individuals on too many teams.

  8. Shawn said...

    Go laundry!  From another point of view, we are all sinful human beings.  Some sins may be regarded as worth that others, but at the same time only some are known.  I can enjoy entertainment provided by less than perfect people, knowing that I am considerably less than perfect myself.

  9. Jack Marshall said...

    No, JW, you were right about Allen. He and Farrow were living as man and wife in every respect but the license…her adopted kids reportedly called him “Dad.” Farrow referred to him as their “father.” His relationship to them was identical to a father-child relationship. The Soon Yi relationship was incestuous in every way but under the letter of the law.He exploited the trust of a child in a parental figure, and converted a de facto father-daughter relationship into a sexual one. [Again, apologies for putting this over on the Manny thread.]

  10. David said...

    Jacob said…

    “I have no tolerance for domestic violence, so the Brett Myers and Bobby Chouniards of the world can die in a fire as far as I’m concerned.”

    Thank you.’

    Sing it loud, sisters!

  11. Michael said...

    Thank you once again Craig!

    It’s the pinnacle of hypocrisy for most reporters to virtually ask to pour gasoline on Manny and light it, and to have systematically and consistently swept the likes of Brett Myers (dude was caught dead to rights and never apologized for anything other than getting caught) under the rug.

    People who play baseball are just that: people. They sometimes do good things, sometimes do bad things. I understand that, and I root for the good ones. When Al Martin and Carl Everett played for my home team, I sat on my hands rather than give my approval via applause.

    But it makes me ashamed for journalists everywhere when a Jack McCaffery comes out and scolds the few fans who chose to boo Myers in his first game back.

    Oh, then there was the classic Pat Gillic quote:

    …there are always a few people who are more exuberant or more outgoing than others. And I don’t know if those are fans or those are people that just like to hassle.

  12. David said...

    Sure, we all know that sports fans, as a group, aren’t capable of creating things (even testosterone) and so, to fill their lives with something, they reflexively regurgitate the latest pop political silliness (“Support the Troops”, “God Bless America”, “Fallen Heroes Day”, etc., etc., etc.)  This is what people who can’t create do: they copy.

    And here we have an example of this: sports fans desperately striking a pose as the heroic guardian of womanhood.  This is a modern classic in the sports fans canon.  Whether it’s Jason Kidd or the Duke Lacrosse players or Brett Myers, sports fans simply can’t wait to wag their chubby little fingers and declare the man guilty, sight unseen, thereby casting themselves as the morally superior heroes.  Perhaps they even get a wry smile as they envision themselves as Russell Crowe’s character in ‘L.A. Confidential’.

    But what happens when two of the sports worlds’ favorite cliches arise and conflict with each other?  What would happen, for instance, if animal lover Tony LaRussa saw a Marine throw a puppy off a cliff moments after he told the media how he so loved the Department of Defense?  After a decade of coming up with new superlatives for Albert Pujols and three decades of double-switches that made scorecards across America look like a drawing of a ball of yarn by Mohmmad Ali, would his brain finally just short-circuit?  Would he be able to handle the clashing of two separate deities?

    Well, THT commentators….would you?  You worship the government, especially law enforcement, right?  I know, dumb of me to ask; of course you do!  However, you are also posturing as the protectors and defenders of women (except Arab women, naturally – the sooner those heathens get to Hell the better!) 

    So, to find out what happens when gods collide, I now present to you….

    COP vs. WOMAN!
     
    As you’ll see from that WGN article, a cop brutally assaulted a woman.  Really just beat the crap out of her.  However….he’s a cop.  He “puts his life on the line every day!”, right?  He “protects us from the scum that want to destroy our way of life!”, right?

    So, who wins this battle for the hearts and minds of sports fans?  Cop or Woman?

    (Incidentally, we know who the government sided with: the cop.  Kept his job, did 0 days in prison.  Way to go, Government!)

  13. David said...

    Cop scores first in our contest!  Thanks, Jason!

    Will Cop shut Woman down in the bottom half of the inning or will she respond quickly?  Let’s find out….

    ——

    (On a side note, I love the “Not so Much” in that article’s headline.  Nothing says “unbiased journalistic integrity” like overused one-liners stolen from a science fiction TV show.)

  14. Michael said...

    Whether it’s Jason Kidd or the Duke Lacrosse players or Brett Myers, sports fans simply can’t wait to wag their chubby little fingers and declare the man guilty, sight unseen

    Um, Brett Myers was seen, yet virtually everyone in the sports reporting world let it pass.

    That was kind of the point here.

    And the cop thing? Strawman 101.

  15. Nick Whitman said...

    I agree with Andy H. in this case.  There’s a huge difference between someone who has some distasteful characteristics but produces excellent work that is unrelated to those characteristics, and someone whose personal nastiness is intrinsically tied to his public work.

  16. themarksmith said...

    “I have no tolerance for domestic violence, so the Brett Myers and Bobby Chouniards of the world can die in a fire as far as I’m concerned.”

    So what do you think of Bobby Cox?

  17. Craig Calcaterra said...

    I think he’s an excellent manager and I’m grateful for all he’s done for the Braves, but I have no love of the guy on a personal level at all, which is saying something when it’s the long-time manager of my favorite team.

    I’ll admit that I don’t think about his domestic violence history as much as I do someone like Meyers, mostly because Cox has been in my view for so many other things and Meyers is defined in my experience by his incident to a much greater degree.  But when I do think about it re: Cox it angers me and makes me feel very negatively about the guy. 

  18. themarksmith said...

    Fair enough. I’ve always though that people deserve a second chance. People make stupid mistakes sometimes, and while domestic violence is one of the worst, I think the remaining body of work represents more of Cox than one incident. Again, completely indefensible that he did that and that anyone would.

    But is there a point where someone (this includes non-baseball players) can be forgiven for such an incident? Is there a point where Cox’s behavior in that moment can be pushed to the side knowing that 99.999% of all of his other actions outweigh that one? Granted, that may not have been the only time he ever did it. Maybe it was just the breaking point after years of abuse. I’m not sure. I’m simply asking the question because I’m not sure how I would or should answer it.

  19. Craig Calcaterra said...

    It’s not a matter of forgiveness or second chances really. Bobby Cox doesn’t need my forgiveness. He didn’t do anything to me, and I’m not so engaged in his life or he mine where that level of analysis is required. 

    To me, it’s just about whether you have a favorable opinion of a guy or not or whether you’d find the guy interesting beyond the game and stuff. I don’t stay up at night hating Bobby Cox, and unless the issue really comes up I rarely think about it. But when I do, I think negatively about him.  Could that opinion change if I knew the guy better? Oh, I’m sure it could, but the only other thing I know about him is his life in baseball, so the whole issue of second chances and all of that is not really out there.

    I’ll grant you that 99.9% of his other actions impact the way I perceive the guy, but his life is more than just me watching him manage the Braves.  We can’t know any of that, so the whole exercise of judging him as a person isn’t really for us to do.  The most I can do is have a bad impression of him based on what I know.  Maybe that’s not fair to him, but it’s no more unfair than ballplayers expecting us to love them based on the good things they do.

  20. Simon Oliver Lockwood said...

    I’m in a retro Strat-o-matic league and we’re currently playing 1985.  One of the other owners just released Mel Hall—despite having just used a 2nd round draft pick on him—when the news about his conviction came out last week.  Whereas nobody is cutting Willie Wilson or Dave Parker.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *