In the wake of the Skip Bayless/Derek Jeter nonsense this morning an age-old complaint has arose on Twitter and in the comments among a lot of people I respect. It basically goes like this: “Why pay any attention to what Skip Bayless says? You’re just giving him attention and that’s what he wants.”
Yes. It is. It’s a valid point, too, and one that is hard to dismiss. But, as I’ve written before, I don’t care. I still think that it’s worth calling out idiocy for idiocy’s sake.
Ignoring Skip Bayless is not going to do a thing. His ratings are his ratings and they’re not going to be impacted by a small minority of people like those of us around here refusing to watch him or tune in. That’s because there are already huge, huge numbers of people who tune into that noise. Who nod their head and say “go, Skip, go!” The traffic I send his way when I criticize him is negligible. He is going to get his ratings and have his job as long as he doesn’t find himself in some sort of personal scandal or something. Just ask Jay Mariotti about how that works.
So why bother at all? At the risk of sounding super naive, I simply don’t believe that ignorance and idiocy are best combated by silence. People generally take silence as tacit approval. And, because this is sports and not something truly important like life, death, work and the like, people are willing to just float along with that ignorance and idiocy and not think too critically about it unless they really feel a need to do so.
I don’t presume to influence a lot of people — and like I said, I don’t think a handful of smart folks can sink the mighty Skip Bayless — but I do know from my own experience that I am more likely to question certain things — especially things that aren’t at the forefront of my life — if I am given a reason to question it. If I hear someone else point out something I haven’t thought of before. I like to think that if I do that for stupidity like that peddled by Bayless, a few people may question why they consume that garbage.
And that’s all I want. A few people. A few people who maybe didn’t realize how dumb Skip Bayless is to stop and realize how dumb Skip Bayless is. And for them to peel away from that crap and hang out here. Or to go read Joe Sheehan’s newsletter or Jay Jaffe at Sports Illustrated or Rob Neyer at SB Nation or to watch Brian Kenny on “Clubhouse Confidential” or any of the many other smarter outlets there are for baseball discussion. A few of those folks abandoning Bayless won’t hurt him much because of his size and he’s still gonna do what he’s gonna do. But a few thousand fans changing their mind about him will mean a lot to the smaller, smarter communities out there.
And the end of that is not just to raise our traffic here or to see Brian Kenny’s ratings increase. The end of it is that there will be more smarter, better informed fans out there. And that’s a benefit to everyone. Because whether I was doing this for a living or schlepping interrogatories at some litigation factory, I’m still gonna talk about baseball with people. And my life in that regard is way better if I’m talking to smart people. And almost all of the smart people I’ve already met got that way about baseball because, at some point, someone hipped them to the notion that [massively popular expert X] may not have a monopoly on wisdom.
Calling out Skip Bayless may be hopeless, but only if your hopes in doing so are to get rid of Skip Bayless. If your goals are more modest and all you want to do is to improve things around the edges, then there is a point to tilting at that large, dumb and seemingly impenetrable windmill.