The Hamels stuff has been fun today. The upshot, based on the comments: I’m a big wimp who never played baseball and I hate the Phillies and I should stop whining and Zimmerman did it too. Which is what I expected. I’m a big boy and can handle it. Of course I still haven’t seen any of the many Phillies fans in that thread say that they would take it with serene equanimity if someone intentionally threw at Ryan Howard, but why ask for miracles?
There have been some thought-provoking comments, however, including this one from commenter danandcasey, which gets at the idea that what Hamels was doing in throwing at Harper was upholding an ancient baseball ritual or Old School Code or something:
One thing – neither Drysdale nor Gibson would have mentioned it to the press after the game. If Cole wants to be Old School, he needs to keep his mouth shut.
It’s an interesting point. Not one I have a ton of buy-in to because I don’t think that referencing guys like Drysdale and Gibson throwing at batters is a satisfying defense (yes, they were wrong to do it too). But I obviously don’t hold the majority view there. To the extent there is a deep defense of Hamels here, it’s that he was acting in a grand baseball tradition.
But it is an open question as to whether he was even adhering to that tradition when he yapped about it afterwards. Again, I don’t care one way or the other because it’s the act of throwing at the hitter, not talking about it, that I think is wrong here. But isn’t it the case that, if you’re gonna play Old School you REALLY gotta play old school and play the “musta got away from me” card?
In not doing so, it’s almoslt like Hamels wanted to make damn sure that everyone knew he was acting Old School. Which, when you think about it, really isn’t an Old School kind of thing to do, is it?
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.