One thing that makes me laugh harder than almost anything is when someone tells me to “stick to baseball.” No. Why should I? I’m a human being like anyone else and I got opinions, dang it. Sure, the farther I stray from my areas of expertise (e.g. baseball, the law, cats, bourbon, 1980s sitcoms and the facts supporting the incontrovertible proof that the moon landing was faked) the more likely I am to be wrong, but that’s a risk we all have in life.
So, no, I take no issue with noted hockey crazy person Don Cherry weighing in on the Bryce Harper–Jonathan Papelbon fight. He, like me, treads on thin ice in talking about sports he doesn’t know as well (note to Don: we call them clubhouses, not “dressing rooms”) but the man is entitled to his opinion, even if it’s dumb and wrong. That’s what the Constitution guarantees, and according to people who yell at me on the Internet, that applies even in Canada.
So, without further ado, Don Cherry’s wisdom on the Harper-Papelbon thing. He put it in nine separate tweets and that’s hard to follow, so I’ll clean it up for you (tweets here):
How anybody could blame Papelbon for confronting Harper boggles the mind. Alright, Papelbon shouldn’t have done what he did to Harper on the bench. He should have waited for him in the tunnel and choked him there . . .
. . . People who criticize Papelbon, rightly so for doing it openly, never played the game. Never, never, ever openly criticize your teammate no matter what he does. In the dressing room that’s ok, yes but what is said in the dressing room stays in the dressing room. Some people say they can understand how Harper just jogs down to first on a pop up. They say well, hey they have already played 152 games. The guy is getting 10 zillion dollars a year, at least he can hustle to first base.
The most remarkable thing about this entire controversy — apart from some people, like Cherry, thinking that there’s a right place and a wrong place to choke someone — is the belief by so many that Harper actually dogged it to first base on the play in question. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post was at the game and he wrote quite clearly that Harper did not, in fact, dog it to first base in anything approaching an unusual or extraordinary way. If the ball had been dropped, Harper would have been safe. Which is all that is really required on such plays unless you worship at the altar of False Hustle.
But of course, we know this wasn’t about hustle anyway. This was Papelbon looking for a pretext to go after Harper based on his comments last week.
Anyway: good to see Don Cherry branching out. I worry sometimes that there isn’t enough work for ill-informed hot take artists in sports media, so him putting in the hard work to stretch himself like this is inspiring.