Who the heck is Barry Stanton?

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Since that ESPN ballot started making the rounds, complete with a guy named Barry Stanton voting for B.J. Surhoff and Tino Martinez of all people, the most frequent question populating my email box and Twitter feed is “who the heck is Barry Stanton?”

Some folks over on this BTF thread did some Googling, and it was discovered that Barry Stanton spent 25 years or so writing for the Journal-News of Westchester, New York, just outside of New York City.

The fact that he’s from Westchester is a possible explanation for his vote for Surhoff, who was a Westchester prep star.  The fact that he likely got his BBWAA ticket covering the Yankees or the Mets might explain the Tino Martinez vote. I’m sentimental sometimes myself, so I guess I understand it even if I don’t approve.

Oh, and then there’s this.  Seems Stanton left his job eight years ago after he was caught plagiarizing a Posnanski column. Ouch.

To be clear: I don’t link it to slam the guy or to discredit his ballot on that basis. The guy lost his job and I assume learned his lesson. There are few mistakes in life that people should be expected to pay for forever, and lifting some prose is not one of them. And hey: given the nature of his Hall of Fame ballot, one thing we know for sure about Stanton is that, in this instance, he’s not copying anyone.

That said, a lot of people marvel at the breadth of the BBWAA’s Hall of Fame electorate.  There are guys voting there who haven’t covered baseball for years.  One is a political cartoonist in Montreal. Another is a college football writer.  This one was found to have committed journalism’s greatest sin. In light of all of that, is it crazy to ask whether it’s worth the BBWAA’s time to reconsider who gets a vote and who doesn’t?

The BBWAA is hyper-selective at who gets to vote for awards: only 28 or 30 guys each, all actively baseball writers.  They get it right for the most part too.  The Hall of Fame has hundreds of voters from all over the place, and they’re increasingly screwing the pooch.  Isn’t there a happy medium to be found? Is it time to look for one?

Nationals plan to activate Bryce Harper on Monday

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The Nationals are planning to activate Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Janes adds that Harper has been taking his knee injury on a day-to-day basis, so if he experiences pain ahead of tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, then the Nationals won’t activate him.

Harper, 24, suffered a knee injury running out a grounder last month against the Giants. The Nationals hope to get him into some game action before the end of the regular season just so he can get acclimated in time for the playoffs.

When Harper returns, he’ll look to improve on his .326/.419/.614 slash line with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances.

Here’s what Jackie Robinson had to say about the national anthem

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For a lot of people, athletes expressing their political viewpoints by protesting the national anthem is a relatively new concept. But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jackie Robinson is celebrated every year across baseball on April 15, marking the day he broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson was an activist well beyond that momentous occasion, highlighting issues black athletes face as editor for Our Sports magazine. He openly criticized then-GM of the Yankees George Weiss on television for the lack of diversity on his team. He helped spur restaurants and hotels to serve black people by criticizing their segregation publicly. Robinson became the first black vice president of an American corporation when he joined coffee company Chock full o’Nuts, and he became the first black baseball analyst when he joined ABC’s Major League Baseball Game of the Week. Of course, Robinson was also the first black member of baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Robinson had an issue with the national anthem as well. As Deadspin’s Lindsey Adler pointed out, Robinson wrote about the anthem in his memoir, I Never Had It Made.

There I was the black grandson of a slave, the son of a black sharecropper, part of a historic occasion, a symbolic hero to my people. The air was sparkling. The sunlight was warm. The band struck up the national anthem. The flag billowed in the wind. It should have been a glorious moment for me as the stirring words of the national anthem poured from the stands. Perhaps it was, but then again perhaps the anthem could be called the theme song for a drama called The Noble Experiment. Today as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr. Rickey’s drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

Robinson is referring to systemic power that has entrenched whiteness and ostracized blackness. Robinson may have ascended as one of the greatest players of all time and he may have broken the color barrier, but the league was still owned and run entirely by white people, which is what he meant by referring to himself as a “principal actor” in Branch Rickey’s “drama.” Rickey was the white executive who signed Robinson and supported him as the color barrier was broken. Robinson could not have done what he did without the aid of white people like Rickey who have the ability to leverage their systemic power.

Without question, Robinson would have supported the protests of Colin Kaepernick and many others who want to bring attention to the unfair ways in which black people interact with the police and the justice system. And it makes one realize that the people who purport to admire Robinson and his many accomplishments would have said the same things they say about Kapernick et. al. now to Robinson back in 1947. And to Muhammad Ali. And to John Carlos and Tommie Smith. The more things change, the more they stay the same.