Glanville: "too many players made a different choice than McGwire did"

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Doug Glanville.jpgI taunted Doug Glanville pretty badly an hour ago and I feel kinda bad about it, so to make up I’d like to link his excellent NYT column yesterday in which he absolutely nails the McGwire thing:

In McGwire’s admission, he explained how he was doing his
job, and his torment and regret seemed genuine even as he spat out the
usual clichéd excuses many players have used: injuries and recovery,
desperation and peer pressure, ignorance and breadwinning, culture and
society.

In fact, I understand all those reasons. I really do, because I was
there too, just like everyone else in the major leagues then who was
trying to stay there. I also felt all those pressures, one way or
another. I tore a hamstring tendon in a contract year that put me on
the shelf for two months. (A tendon that was at the root of my game —
speed.) My father was chronically ill in the years just after McGwire
broke the single-season home run record, a period during which I was
stressed and saw my own statistics decline.

So I get it. But the problem is, too many players made a different
choice than McGwire did in the face of similar situations. I can’t
claim to know exactly what he was going through during the time he
decided to take steroids, but I am confident that there were other
players who dealt with the same challenges and played clean. There
really isn’t any excuse.

To the extent I’ve defended McGwire it’s not been a defense of his taking steroids. It’s been a defense against the over-the-top moralisim and hypocrisy with which which his statement was met and the desire to extract something more out of the man than a confession and an apology for his acts. McGwire is but a man who is still very much deluded about what he did and why. It’s not really my concern. That’s between him and his conscience. The writers and the historians and the public will figure out what it meant for baseball, the records and the Hall of Fame.

But that doesn’t change the fact that what he did was wrong. No, it wasn’t capital murder of the game of baseball, but it was wrong. And unlike everyone else who has weighed in, Doug Glanville was there. He was a Major League baseball player in the late 90s, subject to the same temptations to which Mark McGwire fell victim. Indeed, the temptations for a player like Glanville may very well have been greater than they were for a man like McGwire, who had already made millions and possessed a World Series ring.

Glanville made the right choice by the rules, by the law and by his own conscience, and he may very well have had a shorter and less lucrative baseball career than he could have had as a result. So if anyone could be excused for lashing out at McGwire and the other steroids users it’s a guy like Glanville.  But he’s not lashing out. He’s offering perhaps the most sensible take of this I’ve seen from anyone.  We should laud him for the decisions he made back in the 90s. We should laud him for his latest column.

And we should also ask ourselves why, if Glanville isn’t flying off the handle here, so many other people are. 

Claire Smith becomes the first woman to win the BBWAA’s Spink Award

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ESPN
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The Baseball Writers Association of America has elected Claire Smith the winner of the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. She becomes the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor. She will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 30.

Smith, 62, covered the New York Yankees for five years beginning in 1983 for the Hartford Courant before becoming a columnist with the New York Times. She later served as an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She is now ESPN’s news editor of remote productions, responsible for the integration of news and analysis in live game broadcasts and the Baseball Tonight and Sports Center studio programs. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and winner of three New York Times Publishers’ Awards.

Smith was named Sports Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1997, received the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association of Women in Sports Media in 2000 and the Sam Lacy Award at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in 2010. She has served on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee and was the chair of the New York chapter of the BBWAA in 1995 and 1996.

There will be Under Armour logos on the front of baseball uniforms

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Under Armour
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Yesterday’s announcement that Under Armour will be taking over the MLB uniform business brought with it an added bit of news: for the first time, beginning in 2020, baseball uniforms will feature the maker’s logo on the front of the jersey. From Paul Lukas of UniWatch:

While the Majestic logo has appeared on MLB sleeves, the Under Armour logo will be appearing on the upper-right chest area.

Lukas has a bunch of Photoshopped images of MLB players wearing uniforms with UA logos on it to give us a sense of how it will likely look.

It’s certainly weird and in some cases even a bit jarring. It would be my preference not to see baseball uniforms go this route as I think they’re aesthetically pleasing parts of the game in and of themselves. But it’s inevitable. If there is a chance for leagues and sponsors to make money and if it doesn’t cause them to lose fans (i.e. lose money) they will take it. You can say you’ll give up baseball if they put corporate logos — including paid advertisements, not just the logos of the companies which make the gear — but you’re lying to yourself about that. You and I will complain and grumble and then we’ll get used to it. At some point, after a couple of years, we’ll start talking about which ads look better and which ones look worse and applaud particularly savvy and pleasing looking logos.

As I wrote back in April when the NBA approved ads on uniforms, there may even be a bright side to all of this.

Sports teams have had it both ways for a long time. They’ve worked to make a buck off of anything that isn’t nailed down all the while pretending to be something greater than any other business. They play on our nostalgia and our loyalty in order to portray themselves as something akin to a public trust or institution, entitling themselves to perks no other businesses get and the avoidance of regulation. By turning players into walking billboards, perhaps the four major North American sports will inadvertently make some folks realize that they are just businesses and that they aren’t deserving of such special treatment.

I’m not holding my breath about that, but anything that takes away even a bit of the faux public trust luster that sports leagues and teams use to manipulate their fans is a good thing. Maybe it’ll make, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers look less venerable and sharp. But maybe it’ll remind people that they’re just business units of a $10 billion industry, not some fourth branch of government or whatever.