Matt Harvey

New York columnist clutches his pearls over Matt Harvey giving the finger in a picture

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Yesterday Matt Harvey tweeted a picture of himself, in a hospital bed, giving the finger to the camera just before being wheeled in for Tommy John surgery last year.  After he tweeted it he took it down because someone from the Mets told him to take it down. That’s not too big a deal, of course. I censor myself online sometimes because I have an employer and I represent them as well as myself. So does Harvey. When you do that you honor their reasonable wishes when they are expressed. No harm, no foul. It’s simple drama avoidance, and I’d be shocked if anyone at the Mets gave it a second thought after Harvey took it down.

Of course the picture itself is no big deal. Indeed, the “we wish you wouldn’t do that” from his employer notwithstanding, it was kinda funny. His mom took it, apparently. It’s like any number of family pictures floating around my and my parents’ house. I’m guessing a lot of you have pictures like that too. If you can’t joke around with your parents and/or your adult children like that, God, who wants to know you?

Apparently Anthony Rieber of Newsday does. Indeed, he is shocked and appalled about a grown man joking around with his mom like that. It’s not what Derek Jeter or David Wright would do. Seriously, he actually said that:

Remember that time Derek Jeter posted something offensive on Twitter and then decided to take down his account after the Yankees asked him to delete the post?

No? How about that time David Wright did it?

Still no? . . .The problem is that it seems to keep being Harvey who is involved in these little dustups. Not Jeter, whom Harvey said he wants to emulate. Not Wright, who is as positive a role model as New York sports has ever had.

And after that Rieber goes into serious fainting couch/pearl-clutching territory, suggesting that the picture was R-rated and actually using a shocked exclamation point when he noted that Harvey’s mother took the picture. Like this (!).  When he quotes Harvey, who said that there was nothing wrong with the picture, Rieber says “Sorry, but there was.” With what I presume to be a straight face. He then uses a tattling tone to note that the middle finger pic was still up at Harvey’s Instagram account.

Newsday’s little bio of Rieber says he’s been working there since 1998. How one can cover news in New York City for 16 years and still find a way to be shocked at a grown man giving the middle finger is either a testament to how seldom Rieber leaves his house or how utterly disingenuous his shock and disgust at Harvey is here.

Either way, he should be far more embarrassed by that column than Harvey should be about anything he’s done since making the big leagues.

Jackie Robinson: ” I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag”

FILE - In this April 11, 1947 file photo, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers poses at Ebbets Field in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Robinson's widow said Major League Baseball has yet to fully honor her husband's legacy. "There is a lot more that needs to be done and that can be done in terms of the hiring, the promotion" of minorities in the sport, Rachel Robinson said Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 during a Q&A session with TV critics about "Jackie Robinson," a two-part PBS documentary airing in April.  (AP Photo/John Rooney, File)
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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)

Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is a sports owner once again

File photo of Frank McCourt leaving Stanley Mosk Courthouse after testifying during his divorce trial in Los Angeles
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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.