An important note on nostalgia

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Bob Ryan tweeted this a little while ago:

Such sentiments are so common. And not just the specific sentiment about the pre-division pennant races. I’m talking about the general sentiment that that which happened during one’s youth was the best thing ever.

Most of us are guilty of this from time to time. Of advocating the notion that what occurred when we were kids — or, more often, when we were in our 20s — was the greatest version of said thing ever. Bob Ryan was 21 when the 1967 Sox won the pennant so of course he loved it. People love almost EVERYTHING when they’re 21. The Braves beat out the Giants in the last non-wild card pennant race in 1993. I was 20 then. People my age tend to think that was when pennant races were pennant races and, God, it’s all been a load of crap since. You can bet that someone who was 21 when game 163 was played a couple of years ago will one day tell their kids about how amazing that was.

But there’s a subtle difference between saying that you enjoyed the stuff of your youth and claiming that it was superior to everything that came after. In the former case you’re just being human and looking back at your salad days with rose colored glasses. That’s harmless and understandable. It’s why I’ll never not talk about old “Night Court” episodes or British synth-pop from the 80s.

But the latter case — saying that the stuff you enjoyed was better than all of the stuff now — is just old fogeyism. Sad and somewhat pathetic old fogeyism too inasmuch as you are devaluing that which other people enjoy simply because you do not. God, don’t do that. Don’t ever do that. No one says you have to like the new stuff — I sure as heck don’t like a lot of things that people in their 20s like today — but don’t claim that you have some monopoly on taste and that today’s youth are misguided. Or at least don’t claim that it’s bad that they are. Being misguided about stuff is a damn important part of being young. An enjoyable one at times. And a state of being which makes all of the things that are great about being young possible.

But whatever the case, learning the difference between “I love the stuff I enjoyed in my 20s” and “the stuff that happened in my 20s was THE BEST” is pretty key to one’s happiness. And is essential to one continuing to learn and enjoy new things as one grows old. Because it’s merely a preference. Not a stop sign.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.