T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times has a shtick. He’s used it over and over again. It’s this: insult, bait and pester a given Dodgers or Angels player and hope against hope that they’ll spout off in anger so that he can print a juicy quote and follow it up with his “man, what’s his problem?” rebop. Even better, they say nothing, so he can call the guy standoffish or aloof or whatever. I think Simers has his charms at times, but this bit is tired and offensive and has been for years.
But at least most of the time he uses it against a big star like Manny Ramirez or Torii Hunter who, while it’s no more fair to them, is at least something their time in the spotlight has conditioned them to handle. What gives with today’s broadside against Marcus Thames, though? Simers starts off by calling him a no-name and a head case. He makes fun of his surname. He calls him a stiff. And that was before he had even spoken with him. This was how Simers introduced himself, referring to Thames’ limited playing time over the years:
“Are you that horrible on defense that teams don’t think it’s worth playing such a home run threat?” I asked by way of introduction.
And it just goes on and on like that, with Simers ripping Thames — who wisely smiled politely but did not respond to the bait — and then ripping Don Mattingly who tried to explain to Simers that, you know, Thames is on the team for his bat and that he’s a platoon player. Simers’ response:
So now we understand the Dodgers have a guy in left who can’t catch, can’t hit right-handed pitchers and can’t answer questions about his obvious shortcomings.
And team P.R. people are worried about allowing bloggers to have press passes because of concerns about decorum? Mercy.
Attention Los Angeles Times sports page: I was concerned that you’d never do anything to bring more embarrassment upon yourself than to feature Bleacher Report boobie slideshows next to the content of your paid writing staff, but at the moment I’m struggling to see how continuing to allow Simers to pull this low-rent garbage is much better.
One more bit of baseball via which we may reflect on the Colin Kaepernick controversy.
In 1972 Jackie Robinson wrote his autobiography. In it he reflected on how he felt about his historical legacy as a baseball player, a businessman and as a political activist. A political activism, it should be noted, which favored both sides of the aisle at various times. He supported Nixon in 1960, supported the war in Vietnam and worked for Nelson Rockefeller. He did not support Goldwater and did support the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He supported Humphrey against Nixon in 1968. He was no blind partisan or ideologue. When you find someone like that you can usually rest assured it’s because they’re thinking hard and thinking critically in a world where things aren’t always cut-and-dried.
As such, this statement from his autobiography, describing his memory of the first game of the 1947 World Series, is worth thinking about. Because it came from someone who spent a lot of time thinking:
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.
Colin Kaepernick is not Jackie Robinson and America in 2016 is not the same as America in 1919, 1947 or 1972. But it does not take one of Jackie Robinson’s stature or experience to see and take issue with injustice and inequality which manifestly still exists.
As I said in the earlier post, the First Amendment gives us just as much right to criticize Kaepernick as it gives him a right to protest in the manner in which he chooses. But if and when we do, we should not consider his case in a vacuum or criticize him as some singular or radical actor. Because some other people — people who have been elevated to a level which has largely immunized them from criticism — felt and feel the same way he does. It’s worth asking yourself, if you take issue, whether you take issue with the message or the messenger and why. Such inquiries might complicate one’s feelings on the matter, but they’re quite illuminative as well.
(thanks to Kokujin for the heads up)
There aren’t many major league ownership reigns which ended more ignominiously than Frank McCourt’s reign as Dodgers owner. He was granted access to one of business’ most exclusive clubs — one which being a convicted criminal or even a Nazi sympathizer cannot get you kicked out of — and somehow got kicked out. The clear lesson from his saga was that saddling your team with debt, using it as your own private piggy bank and exercising bad judgment at every possible turn will not get you drummed out of baseball but, by gum, having it all go public in a divorce case sure as heck will.
McCourt landed pretty safely, though. By sheer luck, his being kicked out of ownership coincided with the vast appreciation of major league franchise values and the expiration of the Dodgers cable television deal. He may have left in disgrace, but he also left with a couple of billion dollars thanks to the genius of capitalism. At the time it was assumed he’d ride off into the sunset, continuing to make a mint off of parking at Dodgers games (he retained a big piece of that pie) and not get his hands messy with sports ownership again.
Such assumptions were inoperative:
The soccer club has suffered from poor financial decisions in recent years. So I guess it was a match made in heaven.