Colin Cowhered was on his ESPN radio show today talking about criticism of Dan Jennings getting the job as the manager of the Miami Marlins. For his part, Cowherd rejects the notion that a guy with Jennings’ lack of experience can’t manage in Major League Baseball. Why? Because he does not buy the argument that the sport is “too complex” as so many people like to say.
He probably has something of a point about that. I didn’t care for the Jennings hire but, separate and apart from that, there is a somewhat annoying tendency of inside-baseball people to almost, I dunno, fetishize baseball’s complexity. Sure, you and I couldn’t play or manage and there’s a lot we don’t know. But I sometimes think that sentiment goes too far and rests a lot on arguments from authority as opposed to real facts. Maybe Dan Jennings won’t work out, for example, but at the same time, I question whether the magic keys to managing are really SO magic that any number of front office people couldn’t, if given the chance, do just fine.
But that’s another conversation altogether. And maybe it’s one Cowhered will decide to have one day. But today he decided that it’d be a better bet to simply illustrate baseball’s alleged lack of complexity by arguing that, hey, a bunch of durn foreigners do it!
“It’s too complex? I’ve never bought into that ‘baseball is too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic.”
The video of him saying that is over at Deadspin and it cuts off right after he says it. I cannot at the moment find a longer video of his comments (the show just went off the air for the day), so it’s possible that he went on to explain what he’s saying here and that it’s NOT a baldly racist slam at Dominican people. I just can’t for the life of me imagine what it could be. If someone was watching or listening and Cowherd somehow saved himself after this, by all means, let us know and I’ll update.
Short of that, however: great hire Fox. I’m sure the baseball players who are asked to do in-dugout interviews and stuff will love it if you incorporate him as a part of your baseball productions once he makes the move from ESPN.
UPDATE: Reader Mathias Kook was good enough to send me more of the audio from Cowherd’s thing. I don’t think the added context helps him. Here’s Cowherd in context:
“It’s too complex? I’ve never bought into that ‘baseball is too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world class academic abilities. A lot of those kids come from rough backgrounds and have not had opportunities academically that other kids from other countries have. Baseball is like any sport. It’s mostly instincts. A sportswriter who covers baseball could go up to Tony La Russa and make an argument and Tony would listen and it would seem reasonable. There’s not a single NFL writer in the country who could diagram a play for Bill Belichick. You know, we get caught up in this whole ‘thinking-man’s game.’ Is it in the same family? Most people could do it. It’s not being a concert pianist. It’s in the same family.”
After a break, presumably after he started to catch flak for his comments, Cowherd tried to backpedal, it seems, going on about how ALL baseball players are dumb. Arguing that only four percent of the sport has college degrees and that a third of the players don’t speak “the primary language of this country, so communication can be tough, but everybody plays it and gets along fine.”
Not that he fixed it well. He went back to the idea that “baseball is massive in countries where there are, you know, third world living conditions. Rough academic situations. Where young people don’t have the opportunities American kids have. Yet they come to the sport and they flourish. They dominate it. Because it’s a sport on instinct, it’s individual instinct. You know, so stop the fake controversy.”
There are some truths in there about the academic level achieved by baseball players and the tough conditions in non-U.S. countries. But his whole point began with Dan Jennings and managing, not Dominicans and playing, so I’m not sure where he was going with this. And the whole “pure instinct over intellect” stuff is classic racial garbage to begin with.
And, of course, all of this is apart from the fact that Cowherd clearly doesn’t understand baseball. And that a HUGE part of it is game theory, in terms of knowing what pitches are coming next and which pitches to throw next, the study of film and opposition tendencies and being able to keep any number of options in mind when on the basepaths or the field in terms of what to do if the ball is hit where.
But it’s Cowherd we’re talking about here. And Colin Cowherd, has not been known in my lifetime as having world class academic abilities.