Odds and Ends

1) I know I am late to this, but the final game of the World Series was interesting from the standpoint of the walking-Ortiz question. In the key sequence, in the bottom of the third inning, with a runner on second and one out, Ortiz was walked.  Can one say the strategy back-fired, because three Red Sox, including Ortiz, came around to score? We’ll never know how the inning would have played out. But here’s what we do know, in retrospect – even if Ortiz had hit a two-rum homer, and everything else had stayed the same, the Sox would have scored the same three runs. When you walk a guy, you’re not just avoiding him. You are putting an additional runner on base. That matters far more than most observers realize. As my friend JB said, in summing up my earlier post, no one’s going to get fired for pitching around Ortiz. But if Wacha had pitched to Big Papi, and he’d doubled or homered, or whatever, Cards’ manager Mike Matheny would have been pilloried. As it stands, however, the walk was more or less regarded as a non-event in the context of a three run inning whose culminating play happened three batters later.

2) Prep superstar Andrew Wiggins, who will be biding his pre-NBA time at Kansas this year, killed any suspense that might have attended his status by declaring yesterday, before he’s even played a single college game, that this will, almost certainly, be his only season playing college basketball.

What a colossal waste. BIll Self is a highly successful college coach. But please don’t tell me that Wiggins is going to learn any profound basketball or life lessons in his one year pretending to be a student at Kansas.

David Stern has decided that his extraordinarily rich owners must be shielded from the adverse consequences of their own bad decisions as much as possible, including misjudgments about 18-year old players. That is more important, naturally, than the rights of the 18-year olds themselves.

3) There’s been lots of chatter over the past 24 hours about the twitter feed of former NFL player Hamza Abdullah. From SI.com, here’s a condensed version of some of what Abdullah tweeted:

F— you NFL for doing your former players the way you’re doing em…. F— you NFL for lying to these people and denying the fact that football causes brain damage. … Every player understood the risks of playing football, and we did it, and would do it over again! … We just thought/assumed we would be taken care of after we were done. … F— you NFL for denying players their benefits and making us go through all these f—ing hoops. … F— you NFL because you are the plantation and WE are the slaves!!! #IfYouThinkOtherwiseYouAreDelusional … F— you NFL for that slave trade you call the “NFL COMBINE”, where you strip us of our manhood. … F— you NFL for wanting players to kill themselves so you can show the “SLAVES” what life off the plantation is …

There’s a reason 80% of former players either go broke or get divorced within 5 years of leaving the game. … It’s not poor choices by the player, it’s the f—ing NFL loading the gun, and us pulling the trigger. … F— you NFL for not taking care of players families. … How many former players have to kill themselves before you guys f—ing realize, that they’re pushing us to it. … I’ve thought about that, and the only reason I won’t, is because I’m Muslim. … But I do think about if my families life would be better, if I wasn’t here. Every time I go to sleep, I pray that Allah takes care of my family, just in case I don’t wake up. … And quietly, I’m disappointed sometimes when I do wake up.

Mike and Mike this morning devoted their discussion of Abdullah’s rant to the proposition that he was doing his cause more harm than good by being profane and by generally failing to engage more constructively. I’m not sure that’s really true – Abdullah’s probably gotten more attention than he would have had he expressed himself in more measured terms (he did apologize yesterday for some of the language he used). But Mike and Mike’s focus on decorum speaks well to what’s so warped about public discourse in the United States. Powerful institutional actors might get away with monstrous crimes, political actors might willfully lie and distort with tremendously adverse consequences for countless people, but what’s really important is that things be said nicely. Sure, the NFL stands accused of having engaged in a systematic effort to cover up the effects of playing football, with implications for the kinds of medical attention players received over many years. And now many retired NFL players are suffering grievously, very likely as a result of some of these practices.

But what matters is how politely one discusses those life-changing debilities, not the fact that they are happening.

Yup, Abdullah’s use of F-bombs on twitter -an otherwise unfailingly family-friendly medium. That’s the big story here.



  1. Jonathan–I’ve given a lot of thought to the issue you highlight in the discussion of Abdullah. At UNC, as you know, administrative and faculty leaders have deceived, covered up, and falsified the historical record in public and in the presence of Faculty Council members. The few who have complained out loud about the legerdemain have been attacked for the “tone” and “tenor” of their protests. Best to “move on” goes the refrain. It’s baffling that this should go on in a democratic culture. The conclusion I’ve come to, the only one that makes any sense to me, is that the system–and by that I mean virtually every American institution–is so massively corrupt that the majority have come to believe that no one can be blamed for participating in the corruption. Hence, the priority is not to expose the truth but, rather, to save any and everyone in power from the burden of being held accountable. This is a collective abdication of responsibility that should make every citizen ashamed. It’s not just “the Man” who’s corrupt, it’s all of us. The only solution, if there is one, is to cheer on the Abdullah’s of the world. Those who are not “constructive” are the ones seeing things clearly. (What’s the bumper sticker? If you’re not mad as hell you’re not paying attention.)

    1. Jay,

      You are right – if we don’t want to upset the apple cart, we have to considered complicit in some way.

      Your point here speaks to something I’ve been discussing with friends for many years: the question of good intentions. Lots of folks are willing to give those with power a pass if they believe that the people wielding power are well-meaning. But at a certain point, don’t we need to judge folks by their actions or, more to the point, the consequences of their actions?

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