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Minor league team shows video portraying Congresswoman as ‘enemy of freedom’

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The Fresno Grizzlies, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, showed what can only be called a political propaganda video to fans during a Memorial Day tribute on Monday during a doubleheader against the El Paso Chihuahuas. Carmen George of the Fresno Bee tweeted about it at around 7:30 PM PDT:

The video, which George linked in a subsequent tweet and will not be linked here, can be found on YouTube. It mostly contains standard images and symbols of military pride, but about three minutes into the three-minute, 35-second video, the voiceover of Ronald Reagan talks about “the enemies of freedom” while images are shown of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Fidel Castro and . . . Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Someone, apparently a protesting American, wearing an Antifa hat is also shown.

It’s one thing to take political issue with a sitting United States Congresswoman, of course. Many people do, especially with this Congresswoman. But by casting her as an “enemy of freedom,” the maker of that video, whoever it was, is, by definition, engaged in political propaganda, portraying a merely dissenting viewpoint as a threat to America. By showing that video, obviously, the Grizzlies gave fans the impression they were weighing in with that viewpoint.

After receiving much-deserved criticism, the Grizzlies issued an apology shortly after midnight Tuesday morning. The team said:

We are aware of the problem with the Memorial Day tribute video shown in the ballpark between games of Monday’s doubleheader.

A pre-produced video from outside our front office was selected; unfortunately what was supposed to be a moving tribute ended with some misleading and offensive editing, which made a statement that was not our intent and certainly not our opinion.

We apologize to our fans and to our community for the error and for not properly vetting the video. We also apologize to those who have served and are currently serving the country for the undue distraction on such a solemn day.

That apology was lacking in specificity. In a follow-up tweet posted about 40 minutes later, the Grizzlies said, “We’re embarrassed we allowed this video to play without seeing it in its entirety first. We unconditionally apologize to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) in addition to our fans, community and those we hurt. It was a mistake and we will ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.”

I subscribe to Hanlon’s razor, a philosophy that roughly suggests we not attribute to malice that which can more easily be attributed to ignorance. The likeliest scenario seems to be that a Grizzlies employee put in charge of this little project was scrounging around the Internet for a Memorial Day tribute video to show on the big screen for the fans and chose the aforementioned video without watching it all the way through. Especially in the minor leagues, these employees — like their baseball player counterparts — are overworked and underpaid. This is not to excuse that the video was played; this is simply to provide a likely context. The Grizzlies should still check to see if there was intent behind what otherwise appears to be a mistake borne out of laziness or hurriedness, though.

So much for “stick to sports,” huh?

John Henry tries to justify the Red Sox’ trade of Mookie Betts

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Red Sox owner John Henry issued a lengthy statement to fans today trying to explain and justify the team’s trade of Mookie Betts. It’s a master class in distortion that will, in all likelihood, make no one happy.

Henry starts by talking about “challenges.” The “particularly challenging” offseason the Red Sox had, the “extraordinary challenges” the Red Sox faced, and the front office’s handling of these “challenges.” He goes on to talk about how he knows the “challenges” affect the fans and how he sees it as his job to protect the organization from these “challenges.”

There’s a lot of passive voice here, and at no point does Henry note that the primary challenge at play here was the team’s decision to cut payroll and get it below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. It’s just a thing that happened to the Red Sox, apparently. They had no agency in this at all.

For what it’s worth, the team keeps denying that the CBT was the motivating factor:

This is laughable, of course, given that Henry himself began the Red Sox’ offseason by specifically saying the team needed top do just that. His exact words from late September:

“This year we need to be under the CBT . . .  that was something we’ve known for more than a year now. If you don’t reset there are penalties so we’ve known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done.”

Three days later, Kennedy himself said it’d “be difficult” to keep both Betts and J.D. Martinez and accomplish that goal. When that all went over like a lead balloon with the fans Henry and everyone else tried to walk it back, but you have to be an idiot not to see what happened here:

  1. Owner demands team get under CBT;
  2. Team president says it’ll be hard to do that without one of the superstars leaving;
  3. Martinez declines to op-out of his deal;
  4. Betts is traded.

They can cite all the “challenges” they want, but they traded Betts in order to slash payroll and they slashed payroll simply because they wanted to, not, as we and many others have demonstrated, because of any compelling reason.

Instead of talking about that, Henry spends the bulk of the statement talking about how baseball’s financial system — free agency, basically — requires teams to make tough choices. Henry:

In today’s game there is a cost to losing a great player to free agency — one that cannot merely be made up by the draft pick given. . . . we felt we could not sit on our hands and let him go without getting value in return to help us on our path forward.”

Losing a player to free agency stinks, but nowhere in the entire statement does Henry mention that the Sox could’ve, you know, not lost Betts to free agency next November.

Nowhere does he note that the Sox had a full year to talk to Betts about a possible extension nor did he mention that the Sox — who print money at a faster rate than anyone except the Yankees — could’ve bid on him in free agency too. He simply does not allow for the possibility that a 2021 Boston Red Sox team could’ve done what the 2020 Washington Nationals did, for example, and sign one of their big, would-be departing free agents in Stephen Strasburg. Nor, for that matter, does he allow for the possibility that they could do what the 2019 Washington Nationals did with their all-but-certain-to-depart superstar in Anthony Rendon: hold on to him in his walk year and win a damn World Series. Guess it was a “challenge” to go into all of that.

Of course, as we’ve seen across baseball this past week, it’s really, really hard to explain something when you don’t want to admit the facts and accept the consequences of it all. That’s maybe the toughest challenge of them all.

The full statement: