May 24, 2013
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Friday, July 17, 2009
My most favoritist ballplayer ever is getting his number retired tonight, so today we get one of those "what made Maddux tick" stories, the likes of which have come once or twice every year since the mid 90s. I'm taken with this passage:
Players and coaches always described Maddux’s baseball acumen as almost a sixth sense. Maddux might watch a hitter even as the hitter watched Maddux, but the pitcher always seemed to see more.
Having it put just like that makes me realize that both my favorite baseball player and one of my all-time favorite fictional characters have something in common. To wit:
Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them.
I always say that the essence of my work relies fundamentally on two basic principles: objectivity and observation, or "the two obs" as I call them. My work relies on my ability to remain absolutely, purely objective, detached. I have mastered the fine art of detachment. And while it comes at some cost, this supreme objectivity is what makes me, I dare say, the greatest observer the world has ever known.
I don't know why I never put those two two guys together, but it all makes perfect sense now.
At the risk of stirring up crap again, I link to Dave Zirin, who this week opines on relative dearth of blacks in baseball. After quoting some guys who have their opinions (e.g. basketball and football are more exciting, baseball isn't hip, kids have more options), Zirin gets to the nut of why he thinks the demographics look the way they do:
All well-meaning commentaries; all wrong. It's not a question of action. It's a question of access. Baseball players now tend to come in two groups. There are Latino players, scouted before they are 10, signed into baseball academies before their sweet 16 and imported along a global pipeline until they are cast aside or make the majors. Then there are white players, who largely come from suburban backgrounds and college programs. Baseball--in the US context--has gone country club. Like golf and tennis, or their hemp-addled cousins in the X Games, they are sports that require serious bank for admission. In addition, you need parents with the leisure time to be involved. These sports just don't fit the reality for today's working families, black or white . . .
I actually think Zirin is generally right about this (though I think he's wrong to call the other explanations "wrong;" they aren't mutually exclusive and all of these factors contribute). Baseball, at its highest levels anyway, is an expensive proposition, both for the players and families themselves, and for any organization trying to put a league together. There's a sense now that if you aren't playing in some advanced context by the time you're 12 or 13, you're toast as far as being a prospect goes. That's just not the case with football and basketball, where athleticism can often make up for a lack of experience once someone gets to high school, and where it's way easier to play informal pickup games.
But even if you disagree with the specific factors at play here, the point is that baseball's decline among blacks is a pretty deep-rooted thing, which makes those annual reports taking Major League Baseball to task for its alleged lack of diversity rather silly. The pool of players has been drained before it gets to the point where Major League Baseball can really do anything about it. Sure, they're trying with RBI and whatever, but ultimately, MLB is a relatively small business and can only do so much. If there are to be more American black kids playing baseball at older ages, it's going to be because youth leagues are promoted and advanced on a much larger scale.
But crap, this is a Zirin article, and I feel like I'd be letting my would-be nemesis down a bit if I didn't find something to get snarky about. So how about this:
Jeter is also the only African-American player in the starting lineups of the two marquee teams in Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox in particular have become so bleached in recent years, you wonder if Red Sox Nation has a Whites Only sign on the front door. This is particularly notable considering that the Red Sox were the last team to integrate in Major League Baseball.
Yes, because when I think of David Ortiz, I think "bleached."
There. Now I feel better.
(Thanks to Pete Toms for the link)
Via Pinto, The Soxaholix gets all Thomas Stearns Eliot on us. This is he best juxtiposition of Modernism and baseball since Ferlinghetti sat in the stands at Candlestick Park reading Ezra Pound.
And screw Eliot, by the way. "April is the cruellest month?" That's when opening day is! Eliot was born in St. Louis! I thought they were the best baseball fans in the world!
Those of you still pining for Mark Cuban to become a Major League owner will be happy to hear that the insider trading charges have been dismissed.
The dismissal is based on a pleading deficiency. In very basic terms, the government alleged that Cuban did X wrong, but the law requires that he have done X + Y to be held liable. The government can theoretically cure with an amended complaint that alleges X + Y, but I question whether they will do that. Why? Because it doesn't strike me that alleging X +Y would have been that hard to do back when the first complaint was filed, and the fact that they didn't allege it suggests that they can't prove that Cuban did X +Y as opposed to them simply making a drafting error. I mean, sure, it's government lawyering we're talking about here so anything is possible, but lots of people review high profile complaints like that, and I suspect that in this case they simply didn't have the goods on Cuban.
So I guess that clears the way for him to fly in and rescue Tom Hicks from himself now.
Happy to be back today, I have to say. Court yesterday was kind of difficult in that both the judge and my opposing counsel kept asking me questions for which I didn't have any answers. Well, good ones anyway. I hate it when that happens. I think I still have a pretty good chance of winning that case, however, and I got me some Taco Bell on the drive back up to Columbus, so the day ended on a positive note. In other news:
Dissed Dodgers fans.
I should mention, that while the Taco Bell helped yesterday end well, it really, really, didn't make today begin all that well. Just thought you'd like to know.
Jason is looking for a co-blogger. Details here. Even if you're not interested, you'll definitely want to read the section in which he discusses the compensation structure.
Fourteen teams get a day off after they just had three days off. That's like calling in sick the day after Memorial Day.
Phillies 4, Marlins 0: Man, old people love Florida. Moyer: 7 IP, 1 H 0 ER; Ibanez: 2-4, 2 HR 3 RBI. Manuel: hit the early bird special before the game, found a nice close spot to park the Buick.
Indians 4, Mariners 1: Cliff Lee spun a gem (CG, 9 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, K) and, while it's still nothing to write home about, he got at least a little run support. While randomly surfing I found this Indians' notes column that went live just as the game was ending. In it, Eric Wedge gets the quote of the day: "Regarding when the Indians might recall recently-demoted relievers Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis, Wedge said, 'We need to let them pitch down there.'" I presume that the reporter merely cut off the part where Wedge added "mostly because it's not up here."
Cubs 6, Nationals 2: The Jim Riggleman Era begins much like the Manny Acta era ended. I could probably say a few words about Rich Harden pitching well, or Derek Lee going 3-4, but I've decided that this is the point in the post where I complain about the fact that my wife wouldn't let me watch "Ghostbusters" on the big TV downstairs last night because she had recorded something else and wanted to watch it just then. And because I've seen it 150 times and, after each time I see it, I quote the Rick Moranis lines for three straight days which annoys her to no end, I can tell you. Still, very weak on her part.
Brewers 9, Reds 6: Reports of Homer Bailey's resurrection have been greatly exaggerated (5.1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 4 BB). Oh, and Prince Fielder would like you to know that there is nothing to that post-HR Derby falloff theory (1-3, HR 3 RBI).
Braves 5, Mets 3: Welcome back, Jeff Francoeur! What with the hitting into a double play, striking out, and grounding weakly to shortstop -- not to mention your seeing 14 total pitches in four at bats -- it's as if you never left!
Angels 6, A's 2: Given how he's been rollin' lately, we couldn't have necessarily expected Ervin Santana to pitch eight innings of one-run ball. But he did, and if he's better post-break than he was pre-break, the Angels have a big leg up on Texas in this thing. As for the A's, this might be the most depressing paragraph I've seen in quite a while:
Oakland looked sluggish as it kicked off a grueling stretch of 28 games in as many days and 34 in 35. Nomar Garciaparra is scheduled to get the start at first base on Friday night for the A's, and manager Bob Geren plans to use him once a series in place of the struggling Jason Giambi to keep Giambi fresh.
Rockies 10, Padres 1: Aaron Cook is just livin' right, I guess. You must be if you give up eight hits and walk four guys and come away with it only giving up one run. Oh, and when you're a pitcher and you walk with the bases loaded, which as Pinto notes, is happening an awful lot lately.
Astros 3, Dodgers 0: Forget Manny, it was Wandywood in L.A. last night (6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER). Um, OK, that's stupid, but say "Wandywood" a few times. It's fun!