Dirk Hayhurst

Dirk Hayhurst’s story of sexual abuse and debauchery in the minors has caused some blowback

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Earlier this week, Dirk Hayhurst wrote about his 2003 rookie league team over at Sports on Earth. Specifically, their off-the-field sexual habits which ranged from mere immaturity to what seems to have been, by any definition of the term, rape. I linked the post here approvingly, as I believe that, for whatever else it is, it’s a revealing look at an ugly part of sports culture that is overlooked by many.

But there is that “for whatever else it is” part, and many have come out in the past few days to criticize Hayhurst for telling this story. Or telling it in this way. Or telling it at this time. Or in, possibly, overstating how many of his teammates were involved in what he described. There are a lot of good points being brought up in this regard.

One good read along these lines is Alexis Brudnicki’s, who reached out to some of Hayhurst’s teammates for their side of the story. Another is Eireann Dolan’s piece, which sharply criticizes Hayhurst for having stood silent for so long. If something was said or done about it back in 2003, she argues, the very culture that Hayhurst seeks to expose now could have been addressed then and, maybe, the perpetrators of these alleged crimes could have been dealt with. Dolan’s piece is based, unfortunately, on personal experience. Another is from Stacey May Fowles who, while getting Hayhurst’s intent, notes that, in some important ways, Hayhurst’s story is part of the problem when it comes to male attitudes about sexual abuse. All of these reads are worth your time.

For Hayhurst’s part, he responded to the criticism he has received this week on Twitter, accepting some of this criticism as well-placed, but defending himself as well. I’ll put his tweets together into paragraph form for easier reading:

Back in 2003, I was afraid to lose my job, nuke teammates with things that would be denied and near impossible to prove…I wasn’t the writer I am now. I was young and stupid and naive enough to believe baseball policed itself…The rule was never speak of team behavior outside the locker room, no matter how bad. if you did and caused drama you’d get cut, or worse…You’d get branded (ask Bouton) and subject to every form of frontier justice the game had… beaten and beaned for breaking the code . . .I didn’t write that SoE piece to accuse anyone but myself. It’s not an attack or an apology. It’s a recounting… an admission of what was . . . It’s an expose’ of baseball’s code of silence on sexist behavior, which I was a part of just as much as anyone else, and I own that…So, yes, I realize I look awful. Some think I’m a coward for speaking late. Some think I’m a rat for speaking at all…I realize how bad I look, but the truth isn’t always convenient for those who tell it. If it was, more of it would be told. Thank for reading my stuff, your support, and for putting up with this long thread of tweets invading your feed.

This is one of those situations where I can see everyone’s point of view to some extent. I do wish Hayhurst had spoken up sooner but I understand why a person in his situation didn’t. I do think he painted with a very broad brush, but I also understand that his intent — even if it wasn’t necessarily successfully pursued — was actually not to call out anyone specific (and some who complain in Brudnicki’s piece about the broad brush seem more upset about Hayhurst writing about his experiences in baseball than what he wrote here specifically). It’s a hard subject that involved failures on Hayhurst’s part. I’m not sure there is any way he could have written this which wouldn’t lead to criticism of some sort. I hope (and believe) that he knows that.

From the outside-looking-in, however, I am still glad Hayhurst wrote this, even if it wasn’t anything anyone truly wanted to read. The excesses that can and all-too-often do take place inside sports are very real and need to be talked about. Ideally, they’re talked about when they occur and when something can be done about them. But short of that, I hope that they can still be talked about so they can help us deal with this stuff in the future.

Must-Click Link: Big Brother is Watching Ballplayers

Big Brother
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Over at Vice Rian Watt has a great story about how technology is changing baseball. No, it’s not about sabermetrics or statistical analysis. At least not as you all know and understand those things. It’s about how the players themselves are now becoming the data. About how wearables — little devices which monitor everything about an athlete’s behavior — and analysis of that behavior is changing clubs’ understanding of what makes baseball players excel.

Which is fine if you approach it solely from a technological standpoint and do that usual “gee, what a world we live in” stuff that such articles typically inspire. Watt, however, talks about the larger implications of turning players into data: the blurring of their professional and personal lives:

Welcome to the next frontier in baseball’s analytic revolution. Many of this revolution’s tenets will be familiar to anyone who works for a living—the ever-growing digitization and quantification of things never-before measured and tracked, for instance, or the ever-expanding workplace, the blurring distinction between the professional and the personal, and the cult of self-improvement for self-improvement’s sake. These broader trends are colliding with baseball tradition on backfields and in training facilities around the major leagues, and those collisions have raised questions about privacy, security, and what employees owe their employers.

Players already accept drug testing and rules about personal behavior. But can a club, armed with knowledge about how it affects a player’s performance, make rules about how he sleeps? What kind of shoes he wears off the field? Everything he eats?

I’m the last person to fall for slippery slope fallacies. In most instances there are lines that can be drawn when it comes to regulating the behavior of others and making new rules. But in order to draw those lines you have to ask questions about what is and what is not acceptable. You also have to acknowledge that it’s really easy for technology to get ahead of our ability to comprehend its ethical implications.

Vin Scully recites the “People will come” speech from “Field of Dreams”

James
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You all probably know my thing about “Field of Dreams.” Specifically, that I hate it. Maybe my least favorite baseball movie ever. And I have sat through “The Slugger’s Wife” at least twice. That’s really saying something. At some point I’ll watch it again and liveblog the experience to explain my position on this — I know all of you think I’m nuts for not liking it — but just accept that I don’t like it for now, OK?

But just because a movie stinks doesn’t mean every aspect of it is bad. I loved Burt Lancaster in everything he did and he did an excellent job in “Field of Dreams.” Same with James Earl Jones for the most part. I thought he did a great job playing a character which, at times, didn’t have as much to work with as he could’ve had. No, there are good elements of “Field of Dreams.” If there weren’t — if it were just a total turkey — it wouldn’t inspire the feelings I have about it. If it were an unmitigated disaster, I’d occasionally re-watch it on a so-bad-it’s-good theory.

The “People will come” speech is good. Not necessarily for its content — there’s some hokeyness to it — but because James Earl Jones does a great job delivering it. He could read the dang phone book and make it compelling

Yesterday Major League Baseball launched a partnership thingie with the Field of Dreams site in Iowa. Part of that effort involved having Vin Scully recite the “People will come” speech over some baseball footage. Watch and listen:

Personally, I’d prefer Vin to tell some kooky story about an opposing player actually being a part time flautist or what have you. He’s had many monumental moments, but Scully is Scully for the way he makes the workaday and the mundane sound poetic, not because he takes the already poetic and elevates it further.

Still, this is good. Even to a hater like me. And I’m sure a lot of you will love it.

The Yankees release former prospect Slade Heathcott

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Slade Heathcott #71 of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait on February 27, 2016 at George M Steinbrenner Stadium  in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Yankees announced last night that they have given an unconditional release to outfielder Slade Heathcott. They needed room on the 40-man roster and he was seen as expendable. There is no indication that they’re going to try to re-sign him or anything. He’s just gone.

Heathcott was the 29th overall pick in the 2009 draft and at one time was considered the second best prospect in the Yankees’ system. Injuries and decreased production as he climbed the minor league ladder took the shine off this particular apple, however. He had a nice little cup of coffee with New York last season, but he’s hitting a mere .230/.271/.310 at Triple-A this year in his second go-around.

Heathcott can play center field and has good tools, but he’s going to have to use them working for another organization.

Pete Rose says no one ever told him not to gamble on baseball anymore

Former Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose poses while taping a segment for Miami Television News on the campus of Miami University, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Associated Press
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Pete Rose will soon be inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame and have his number retired and all of that jazz. To mark the occasion, Cincinnati Magazine interviewed the Hit King. And, for, like, the 4.256th straight time, Rose shows that he’s in complete denial about why he was banned in 1989 and why he was not reinstated last year when Rob Manfred agreed to review his case:

In this time of limbo after the ban, did you worry about your legacy? I normally don’t ever worry about anything that I’m not in control of. I wasn’t in control of anything in that situation. I went through a period when I got suspended where I didn’t even go to the ballpark. It’s not because I didn’t want to. There were so many restrictions on me, I just didn’t want to put people through that. It didn’t feel good to me.

Sure he wasn’t in control of anything. He was a tiny boat, cast out onto the waves, left to drift in a sea of uncertainty and powerlessness.

But it gets better. Rose was asked about how he changed his life after his ban:

But you still bet on baseball, albeit legally. It seems like the commissioner’s office has taken issue with that fact. Have you considered not betting on baseball anymore? That’s a good point. You remember reading about Bart Giamatti telling me to reconfigure my life? OK, no one has ever told me—including Manfred, including Selig—what does that mean? I guess my point is, just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it. I’m in control. Just tell me. If I want to bet on Monday Night Football, and that’s the way I enjoy my life, why is everybody so worried about that? I’m 75 years old, I have to be able to have some form of entertainment. I’m not betting out of my means. It’s not illegal. If you don’t want me to bet on baseball or anything else, just tell me.

If they told you that— I’d do it. Absolutely. But no one has ever explained “reconfigure your life.” I have taken responsibility for it. I have apologized for it. I have shown I’m sorry. But there again, no matter how many times you say you’re sorry, not everybody’s going to hear you. All I can do is imagine what they meant when they said reconfigure my life. And evidently, no one’s willing to tell me what that means.

So it was all a big misunderstanding. A man who was in his late 40s was banned for gambling on baseball and was told to straighten up yet he had no idea, for 26 years, that maybe it’d be a good idea for him to not gamble on baseball anymore in order to get back into the good graces of the folks who banned him. Damn, why did they pose such impossible riddles to him! If only he had a clue as to what sort of behavior would have improved his chances!

But really, guys: Rose is ready to stop betting on baseball. All you have to do is tell him. If he had known before now, well, we’d be having a TOTALLY different conversation, I’m sure.