Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan and Orlando Hudson spoke yesterday about this Thursday’s Jackie Robinson Day and about the still-unemployed Jermaine Dye. Culture warriors: let’s get ready to rumble:
You’ve got some guys who miss a year who can come back and get $5, $6
million, and a guy like Jermaine Dye can’t get a job. A guy like Gary Sheffield,
a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can’t get a job . . . We both know what it is. You’ll get it right. You’ll figure it out.
I’m not gonna say it because then I’ll be in [trouble] . . . Call it what you want to. I ain’t fit to say it. After I
retire I’ll say it. I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to say after I
Many will immediately dismiss this, especially in light of the news that Dye received — and rejected — yet another offer recently, this time from the Washington Nationals. Before doing so, it’s worth reading Passan’s take which, while not endorsing Hudson’s views on the merits, puts them in context. The upshot: Hudson is not a lone nut crying racism here. There are others who have done so recently, and it’s reflective of a chasm of perception between black ballplayers and the game’s power structure that needs to be addressed. It’s a good point.
As for the merits, personally I’m an Occam’s Razor guy. I don’t think it’s as clean or easy to explain Jermaine Dye’s unemployment as a racist thing as I think it is to explain it within the context of a set of financial realities in baseball that (a) has severely depressed the value of aging sluggers with little defensive value like Dye; and (b) may, depending on who you believe, have a collusive element to it all. Jim Edmonds and Mike Sweeney have jobs and Jermaine Dye doesn’t, but I suspect that has less to do with race than the fact that Jim Edmonds and Mike Sweeney were willing to take $850K and $650K, respectively, and Jermaine Dye is not.
Not that I think the financial aspects to all of this will be seriously considered as talk radio guys rush to pillory Orlando Hudson of being the second baseman who cried racism.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.