May 21, 2013
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Couldn't happen to a nicer book:
Remember that tell-all book about A-Rod? Just a month after making headlines with its allegations that the New York Yankees star likely used steroids as far back as high school, Selena Roberts' "A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez" has vanished from best seller lists.
Best part is a blurb from the article noting that James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" is currently outselling Roberts' book. That means that Roberts isn't even heading the lists in the lucrative Unsubstantiated Baloney genre.
Tough break, kid.
This comment, from J.W. in the Enemies/Smurfs thread, comes the closest to capturing my inner monologue at almost every moment of every single day:
You know what I don’t get? Luke’s plan for saving Han basically boiled down to using his lightsaber and jedi jumpy abilities to take out some enemies, grab his buddies and bolt. So why go to all the trouble of getting three more of your friends captured, AND hiding your lightsaber in your little droid friend all in the long-shot of long-shot hopes that said droid would be used as a serving tray and have convenient window access. Why not just keep the lightsaber in your pocket and do your thing from the get-go? It’s not like there was a metal detector in Jabba’s palace. Seems like a case of over-managing, if you ask me. Just leave the righty pitcher in to face the lefty slugger, ok? He’ll be fine, Girardi, he’ll be fine. You don’t ALWAYS have to play the matchups! What’s that? I’m rambling?
If he threw in some Dylan lyrics and a lurid-yet-juvenile fantasy or two, I'd be convinced that J.W. is a psychic.
Because the universe and my cable company hate me, I don't get the MLB Network. I'm not sure, though, whether not having it is a good thing or a bad thing in this instance:
The Pen, debuting Sunday on MLB Network, might be something like the 11,000th TV reality series. But David Gavant of MLB Productions, which is producing the series, suggests it's unique: "It's the first reality series where a baseball team has allowed anybody to follow them through a season" . . . Like the NFL Films-produced Hard Knocks, which takes viewers into meetings and practices at NFL training camps, The Pen is getting unprecedented access.
Says the producer of the show: "We're making a reality show. We made it clear to the Phillies we have to have some conflict."
I know next to nothing about what makes a good reality show -- I don't hate the genre as much as I simply don't understand it -- but doesn't this run the risk of being a really boring show? The NFL is all high-pressure emotion. When guys talk about the baseball season, they talk about the long stretches of boredom and the daily grind. I myself have long harbored a fantasy of being the 11th or 12th arm in a bullpen, not because it would be interesting, but because there would be an awful lot of sitting around and shooting the bull. Great for the rhythms of life and everything, but an entertainment? Color me dubious. Maybe I'm wrong about that. It certainly won't be the first time.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the Ottawa Lynx)
What would Batman be without The Joker? Luke without Vader? The Smurfs without Gargamel? The answers are (a) still really disturbed; (b) still whiny and annoying; and (c) still strange, three apple-tall blue things that kind of creep me out. The point remains, however, that a good enemy always makes things more interesting. And for reasons that I still don't fully understand, I seem to have made an enemy:
One of my many, many problems with Craig Calcaterra's Shysterball Blog is that, though he defends his BS claims about Dave Zirin with the old "Hey, at least I link to him!" ('I want his voice to be heard, honest! I just want my readers to know going in that he is wrong to raise the issues he raises, though I will offer no explanation or analysis as to why that is'), in searching his archives I have found ZERO instances of him linking to D.K. Wilson, aka dwil, who has written for many online and print outlets over the years and who presently writes at Sports on My Mind. Now, there are two obvious causes for this, as a) Calcaterra almost certainly does not seek out or regularly read either writers who discuss the interplay of racism and sports or black sports writers and b) dwil almost certainly does not meet Calcaterra's strict scrutiny of a writer's "tone" (which, judging from the way that Calcaterra writes and from many of the blogs and columnists he links to, is like the pot calling the water black).
It just kind of goes on and on like that, as does his previous post, albeit with far more colorful language. Obsessive ShysterBall readers will also recall that the blog's author, Fifth Outfielder, has shown up in the comments to take me to task for being a tool of the racist establishment from time to time. More recently he has disappeared altogether, apparently boycotting the blog. I suppose it goes with with territory. If anything, I'm actually surprised that I don't have more people angry at me.
But just because someone hates you doesn't mean you have to hate them back. Batman once tried to redeem the Joker, and Luke did the same for Vader (the Smurfs, on the other hand, never showed an ounce of empathy for Gargamel because they're callous, hateful little beasts). And to be clear: I have no ill feelings towards Fifth Outfielder. He's obviously smart and committed to what he believes in, and I respect that, even if one of the things he believes is that I have my head in the sand about racism in baseball and America at large.
Which is the subject of his most recent post. In it, he challenges me to read writer D.K. Wilson's post about the Mike & Mike thing from Monday, during which ESPN's Mike Greenberg said that the Hall of Fame had "created a special wing" for Negro League inductees, and could do the same thing for PED users (more here). Wilson uses this assertion as a springboard to accuse baseball of racism, going so far as to call for a boycott:
That the separate wing is for those men who were forced to play in a separate league - Negro Leagues - from the majors just to make a living playing the game is an act so egregious that the Baseball Hall of Fame should be boycotted daily. That wing in the baseball hall is a classic case of racist, blaming the victim. The simple fact is that the special wing should be for the White players who compiled their statistics and played their careers separate from Black players, not the other way around. Think about it.
Except Wilson -- and Greenberg for that matter -- are dead wrong. There is no "special wing" for Negro Leagues players. They're honored right alongside everyone else. Indeed, I've been told that Satchel Paige's plaque is right next to Tom Yawkey's. The same Tom Yawkey who worked his butt off to keep the Red Sox white. If true, that's about the best bit of poetic justice one can imagine.
Contrary to Greenberg's implication -- which Wilson and Fifth Outfielder, via his enthusiastic and approving link, gobble up like candy -- there are no asterisks. There are no qualifications. There are no hedges. Sure, I'll grant that Negro League players' inductions may have been, as a general matter and in the first instance, inspired by some white guilt rather than a genuine appreciation of their skills, but since then the Hall of Fame and many, many baseball scholars have worked very hard to assess, evaluate and honor the on-the-field accomplishments of Negro Leaguers as accurately as possible. There are people who spend considerable time combing old news reports, compiling databases, and doing hard work to make sure that the men who played in the Negro Leagues are given the same due as those who were allowed to play in the majors.
But neither Wilson nor Fifth Outfielder is interested in that. They're more interested in jumping at an easy, erroneous target (the idiot Greenberg's ridiculous "wing") and using it to beat a drum each of them are always too eager to beat: baseball and everything about it is racist, and you're a fool for thinking otherwise. In this they are doing exactly what they accuse me of: distorting the work of others based on lies that are convenient to their politics.
None of which is to say that they don't make some good points about racism from time to time. There's no denying that our country was founded on, among many other things, the principle that people could be property. There's also no denying that baseball's institutional embrace of racism and segregation lasted longer than its period of integration has so far. It's there, and to deny that it existed is to exhibit true ignorance. But it's not the whole story, and to start from the position that everything that happens in baseball (or in America for that matter) is a knowing and direct outgrowth of its racist history is to display ignorance of a different sort. What's worse, it puts anyone who may very well need to think a bit about the legacy of racism in baseball and society on the defensive and causes people to choose sides in a way that does nothing but impede progress on these issues. I'm not a big fan of culture wars, and to the extent I refuse to join in with the Dave Zirins and D.K. Wilsons and Fifth Outfielders of the world, it's for precisely that reason.
I was being a bit cute before in calling Fifth Outfielder my enemy. He's not, even if he is someone with whom I disagree from time to time. And while I'm sure I'll find a way to somehow carry on if he thinks differently, I do hope that he reads this and resumes engaging me and others on the topics which move him. Conflict isn't always the best thing in the world, but the utter lack of it is about the most boring thing possible. Better to engage in some rather than retreat into the comfortable echo chambers of the blogosphere.
Conversation I had with a coworker yesterday:
Him: So, who are the Braves going to draft?
Me: No idea.
Him: [mildly mocking me] Really? And you call yourself a fan?
I quickly changed the subject. I'm surrounded by football fans in central Ohio who simply don't understand baseball. I think I'm going to email Rob's post from yesterday to every one of them. Anyway:
Tigers 7, White Sox 6: A bullpen collapse in the ninth inning for the Tigers transformed a relatively easy win into an extra innings salvage job, but Detroit will take it. OK, maybe "easy" isn't the right word, because this game featured yet another lackluster Dontrelle Willis start. Disastrous? No, but I don't know that giving up three run on five hits with five walks in five innings is good enough to keep giving Dontrelle Willis turns in the rotation. The last few times out he did OK the first time through the lineup, so maybe they should give him a go in the pen. I mean, given what happened in this game, it's not like anyone else out there is so deserving of their job.
Marlins 4, Cardinals 3: That's five straight losses for St. Louis, which isn't a common occurrence. That they lost with Chris Carpenter on the hill is even more uncommon. That Albert Pujols is 0 for his last 15 goes beyond uncommon and into the realm of the eschatology.
Angels 4, Rays 3: Another close loss for the Rays. They're 29-31, yet they've outscored their opponents 330-284, which should translate to a record roughly five games better than they've got. Not that life is fair or anything. I went bald at 25 and Leonardo DiCaprio has castoffs that look like this, so I'm not going to sit and cry for the Rays' bad luck.
Orioles 3, Mariners 1: Is it just me, or have these two teams been playing each other constantly for, like, three weeks? Brad Bergesen certainly acted as if he was sick of the Mariners, dispatching them with nary a run scoring over eight innings. When the Orioles scored in the first, it was their first lead in 35 innings.
Mets 6, Phillies 5: That stupid New York bandbox allowed seven home runs. Man, they really need to do something about -- er, what's that? This was in Citi Field? I thought that was Yellowstone East? Well, then, it must have been some meat pitcher hurling fat pitches -- er, what's that? Johan Santana was on the mound for the Mets? When you combine this with the Pujols thing, I'm pretty sure we experienced two of the seven signs last night.
Braves 4, Pirates 3: Braves win, blah, blah, blah. The best news was that Jeff Francoeur was benched, showing up only to play defense in the ninth. That's the kind of player deployment I can get behind.
Red Sox 7, Yankees 0: Beckett allows nothin' but a piddling infield hit and David Ortiz of all people hit a shot over the centerfield wall. The Yankees are now 0-6 against Boston this season.
Indians 8, Royals 4: And with that, the Royals are back in last place. Maybe the tide is turning on that whole apocalypse thing.
Blue Jays 9, Rangers 0: A two-hit shutout over seven innings for Brian Tallet shut the Rangers down. Ian Kinsler (0-4) has seen his OPS drop over 100 points since the middle of May.
Rockies 3, Brewers 2: The Rockies have won six in a row. Milwaukee had no baserunners after the fourth inning.
Cubs 7, Astros 1: A ninth inning Lance Berkman home run was all the Astros could muster. Maybe they were just tired. I mean, I assume that Drayton McClane doesn't allow the players to bring in their own energy bars and Gatorade into the game, so it's a given that they're going to flag as the season wears on.
Reds 3, Nationals 2: Johnny Cueto (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) is putting together one hell of a season that no one is really talking about.
Dodgers 6, Padres 4: Andre Either smacks two dingers, thus imperiling that whole "drive in a zillion runs while only hitting a handful of homers" thing. Not that I suppose he cares. UPDATE: I'm a moron, it was James Loney who was/is on pace for the odd HR/RBI ratio.
Giants 9, Diamondbacks 4: Pablo Sandoval had four hits and drove in three runs and Matt Cain sucked it up on a night when he didn't have his best stuff working.
Twins 10, A's 5: A laugher until the ninth, when Gardenhire, letting Scott Baker try to finish off a shutout, had to use three different bullpen arms to