Casey Johnstone

Giants coach Tim Flannery: the Dodgers “failed in the humanity department”

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On Tuesday the Dodgers had ten year-old Casey Johnstone throw out the first pitch of the Dodgers-Giants game. Johnstone is notable for a viral YouTube video in which he told his fifth grade graduating class about how he’s a Dodgers fan even though the rest of them were Giants fans.  OK so far.

The not OK part, according to Giants coach Tim Flannery, is that the Dodgers did not mention the fact, when they introduced him, that Johnstone donated all of the money he got from the video to the Bryan Stow family to help pay for his recovery. Flannery’s comments from his Facebook page:

Tonight the Dodgers did something that really pissed me off…yeah they beat us, they are better this time around, but this is about other stuff..they honored Casey Johnstone the kid who made a video and gave his $200 bucks to Bryan Stow…but the Dodgers never ever mentioned What the kid did with his money, or Bryan’s name. I once had a Dodger broadcaster tell me ” we wish he would just go away”…..ok…more shows for Bryan…another way to shine the light, and to the Dodgers how you handled this pregame first pitch tonight….you just got me started all over again……we won’t go away, till you do what is right here..had your chance tonight……failed in the humanity department….

Flannery has been out front in raising money for Stow, playing charity gigs with his band and stuff.

I agree that the Dodgers could have mentioned this, but I also understand how lawyers and corporate thinkers work: the Stow family has a pending lawsuit against the Dodgers for Stow’s injuries. Someone, somewhere probably made the calculation that the Dodgers can’t be seen at all talking about Stow lest it somehow be used by the plaintiffs. And in my experience, no matter how innocuous a comment is, an able lawyer can twist things to make it sound sinister and work against the defendant.

Not saying that the Dodgers did the right thing here. Not saying that the Stows’ lawyers would act underhanded or anything. Just saying that lawsuits suck and make people behave in ways that are somewhat less than naturally human. Which is to say that the hate should be directed at the game more than the players in this case.

Jake Arrieta almost quit baseball

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs scratches his beard as he walks back to the dugout at the end of sixth inning after giving up a three run home run to Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (not pictured) at Wrigley Field on August 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.

We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.

Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.

It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.

Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.

This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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Associated Press
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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.