David Ortiz feels bad for Jose Reyes. Why on Earth should we give a crap?

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One thing you learn after a while is that when a guy says someone they know is “a good person,” they are really saying nothing more than “they’re a friend.” In some instances we know that our friends have done bad things but we just can’t bring ourselves to say so. In many others our friendship with them blinds us to the bad things they do or makes us focus on our friends’ end of a bad situation as opposed to someone else’s.

That’s about as charitable as I can get with respect to these comments from David Ortiz, who talked about Jose Reyes, Aroldis Chapman and Yasiel Puig, who are in the crosshairs of Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy at the moment. Asked about this by Bob Nightengale of USA today, Ortiz said:

“These are good guys, I feel so bad for them. I know Jose well. Jose is not a trouble maker. He’s a good guy . . .We’re not perfect. We all make mistakes. That’s no excuse, but people are judging him without knowing everything.”

As, I might add, is Ortiz. He may know Jose well, but he was not in the hotel the night Reyes is alleged to have beat his wife. Those other statements may be true — that people aren’t perfect and we all make mistakes — but they’re non-sequiturs. Ortiz’s friendship with and knowledge of Reyes has no bearing whatsoever on the events in question. And if Reyes did do what he is accused of doing, he is a bad guy. Sorry about that. I realize people don’t like such judgments, but if you beat your wife, you lose the right to be called “a good guy.” Even if you are, otherwise, good in every other way.

But I’m stuck mostly on Ortiz’s comments and how comments similar to his tend to work to discredit victims of domestic violence. It’s this sort of thing — the “oh, he’d never do that, I know his heart” stuff — which is what keeps us as a society from taking domestic violence, sexual assault, rape and other behind-closed-doors criminal acts seriously. We take character witnesses like Ortiz seriously when their view of the matter is wholly irrelevant. We allow accused abusers to make self-serving statements about how they are good to their mother and their daughter without much pushback or criticism when such things are meaningless when it comes to the matter of whether or not they committed an act of violence. What’s worse is that we are far more likely to believe such irrelevant things over actual first-hand accounts of victims. Especially when the accused is a celebrity.

I don’t think that David Ortiz had much if any of this in his head when he made those statements. Ortiz has always said exactly what he felt without any filter and, in some cases, reflection, and I’m sure this is just one of those times. He is friends with Jose Reyes and we say nice and supportive things about our friends when they’re in trouble. We all do this.

But his words should be totally meaningless to us here. David Ortiz’s impression of Jose Reyes makes zero difference to this situation. A stranger to an incident’s vouching for the character of the accused is of almost meaningless weight compared to the actual evidence at hand. We almost always accept this when other sorts of crimes are discussed, but we so often forget it when matters like domestic abuse and, more often, rape are involved.

Let’s not give men accused of such crimes free PR help. Let’s acknowledge that such statements, even from a big famous athlete, are meaningless. And can often serve as distractions or apologia for criminals.

(Via Fusion)

 

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.