Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Google Images Search for "Cleveland Indians Racist"


I came across this hat today (which is a real thing and caused a bit of controversy a few years ago, because, I mean, just look at it). This prompted me to run a quick Google images search for "Cleveland Indians Racist." Below is some of the best stuff I found.


I'd totally wear the New York Jews hat.





You get my point?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why We Hate LeBron (according to one guy)


Not a citizen

I think LeBron James is a schmuck. He will undoubtedly retire as one of the greatest players of his generation--probably one of the best players ever. I have no qualms with that, because it is an objective fact that he is able to do things on the court that few others can.

But for many (including me) it is hard to overlook his narcissistic prickishness. Simply put, taking an hour of national airtime to inform your former team and the entire city of Cleveland that you are "taking your talents to South Beach" is a huge dick move. So now a lot of people hate LeBron James. This is old news.

To the most lispingist man on Around the Horn, Bill Plaschke, however, it's much more complex than that. Plaschke speculates that maybe we don't like the Heat because we can't tell LeBron apart from Dred Scott*:
I know where it starts, of course. We all know where it starts. It starts, and possibly ends, with Dirk Nowitzki versus LeBron James.

Even though he hails from Germany, the Mavericks star Nowitzki is viewed as an all-American player. Humble, deferential, shaggy hair, floppy walk — he's Jimmy Chitwood with an accent.

Even thought he hails from middle America, the Heat star James is viewed as a foreigner. Dark stare, hulking frame, intimidating swagger — he's Ivan Drago with a headband.
I know that Plaschke is actually attempting to critique this view, but the ease with which the words appear to roll off his fingers is chill-inducing. Later in the article, he backs away from this characterization.
Not a citizen either
Far be it from me to actually defend people against the charge of racial bias, but Plaschke is just wrong on this one. People hate LeBron because he's a nonpareil douchebag. LeBron is such a douchebag that douchebags insult each other by calling each other LeBron. This is a point he raises (in so many words) later in the article, but also backs away from.

Really, Plaschke's article is an example of a terrible piece of sportswriting more than anything else. It is terrible in the way sportswriting is typically terrible: offer a theory for a phenomenon you are attempting to understand, dismiss your own theory; offer another theory for the phenomenon, dismiss your own theory again; offer another theory for the phenomenon, dismiss the theory again; conclude with a wishy-washy statement that doesn't actually bring the reader any closer to understanding the phenomenon you set out to dissect in the first place. Read the article, you'll see what I mean.

It's like post-modernism without the highfalutin twaddle.
_____

*It is perhaps worth noting that both James and Scott have famous "decisions" associated with them. 

See also: Bill Plaschke tries Bill Simmons on for size

Friday, June 3, 2011

Where have all the black catchers gone?


Last of the black catchers

Last week, the San Francisco Giants' wunderkind catcher and the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey, got his leg all kinds of fucked up in a collision at home plate with Marlins rookie Scott Cousins. Posey will be out for the season with a fucked up leg, which has sparked a debate in baseball circles about home plate collisions. Namely, should they be outlawed and, if so, how do you go about outlawing them? "The home plate collision is as old as the game itself," the traditionalists argue, "we cannot alter the very fabric of our hallowed national pastime." On the other side, are those who maintain that player safety is paramount. "Player safety is paramount," they say.

Personally, I tend to side with the "player safety" camp, but others have raised an important question. Home plate collisions have been happening for decades--more than a century, even--with catchers sustaining severe injuries relatively infrequently, so why are we just now beginning to have a serious discussion about outlawing the home plate collision? If Buster Posey wasn't young, handsome, and extremely valuable to his team, would we even be having this debate? If it was, say, Rod Barajas who got lit up at the plate, would anyone have even noticed what happened?

Let's take this one step further. (For, what kind of racial provocateur would I be if I didn't take things one step further?) If Buster Posey was black, would we be having this debate about home plate collisions? Well, yeah. Most likely, if Buster Posey was still young, handsome, and extremely valuable to his team, and the only thing that was different about him was that he was black, we probably would still be having this debate. BUT, the problem is this would never happen because there are no black catchers (and by this I mean there are no African American catchers).

Russell Martin of the New York Yankees has an Afro-Canadian father, but under my rigid and admittedly arbitrary system of classification, he cannot be counted. In fact, if my research is to be trusted, the last African-American catcher to play at the Major League level was Charles Johnson. Johnson last appeared in a Major League game in June of 2005 -- nearly six years ago. Where have they all gone?

It is not news that African American participation in baseball has dwindled in recent years. But one would think that at least some of the comparatively few African American players to reach the big leagues in the last six years would be black. Perhaps this speaks to a concerted effort at lower levels of play to shepherd black players away from the catcher position and towards other parts of the diamond. Perhaps a similar set of racial mystifications that surround the quarterback position -- concerning the qualities that are believed to be required to succeed at the position and the people who are believed to possess those qualities -- also surround the catcher position. After all, the catcher is called "the coach on the field". Or maybe it's just the luck of the draw.

Whatever the case, I'll be here waiting patiently for the arrival of the next Charles Johnson.