18 April 2008

This Week's Hacks

All I remember about Jackie Robinson was 1972, when he died in a Connecticut suburb adjacent to ours. He was not a player I naturally warmed to, so old and serious, the ancient embodiment of adult injustice encroaching on my child's game. I remember Howard Cosell, somberly imparting what a monumental figure had left us. Cosell was, like me, from Brooklyn, and idolized ol' 42. The other thing I remember was how old Robinson looked, like a second term President. He was only fifty three.

It helps to be old, older than me, to really appreciate what Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey did way back in 1947, less than two years after U.S. troops (many still segregated) stood up against at least the principle of ethnic cleansing, and eight years before Rosa Parks actually parked her rear on the front of that Mongomery bus. Even the NBA was all white. For Rickey to pull this off, he had to be right, and smarter than everyone else - and he was. As for Robinson, I never saw him play. My father had, at Ebbets Field, and said he was very good - but not as great as Hornsby.

MLB released quite a banquet of feel good homilies to their sacrificial lion, but none more meaty than this wonderfully hamfisted political screed from Mike Bauman. Enjoy!

While the Mets plan to honor Robinson at their new park, sadder news at their old one, the latest in a line of violent incidents at Shea. I'd document the trend, but cant summon the energy to rummage through MLBlogs for old drafts at the moment.

Speaking of MlBlogs, it needs to be noted that I can now create a sidebar link on my old blog! Ta da! That only took seventeen days. Why, it should be World Series time before Mark's crackerjack team:

  • restores link list order capability (other than alphabetical)

  • restores order capability within a given list

  • restores the Tooltip option, so sidebars arent cluttered with unwanted text

  • restores Display/Dont Display capability on Link Lists, so that Lists in Draft Status dont automatically display.

  • restores image, caption and layout specifications on all photo albums created

  • restores html functionality to enable widget basics like Site Meters, Team Schedules, Weather Icons and customized color and font coding.

And that's just the sidebar, folks.

The Dbacks have opened up MLB's largest lead (3.5 g), after taking the last four series against the NL West. Tonight, Arizona would seem to be heavy favorites over Greg Maddux and his lazy lidded Padres, who lost earlier today in the longest (and perhaps dullest) MLB game since 1993. San Diego exhausted six relievers over fourteen innings, but baseball is a funny game. Just when everything's going your way...boom!

Speaking of which, a young cocky Dbacks "Acct Executive" called yesterday, trying to sell me season tickets. Poor guy.


PAUL said...

Violent incident? You make it sound like a group of toughs shoved the guy over the railing; he was sliding down the handrail of the escalator (which wasn't running) and fell.

Russell said...

I tried to comment on MLBlogs yesterday and it took me 10 minutes to wade through issues with log in and comment boxes (and not just because I'm an idiot).

Michael Norton said...

Did they have Alyssa Milano as the poster girl for Jackie Robinson Day again this year? I've been staying away.

That is what set me off last year. Like many bloggers I prepared a celebration of Jackie Robinson's accomplishments, only to find MLBlogs co-opted by Mark and Co. peddling women's wear.

Yeah, MLB is serious about its racial issues...

Michael Norton - Some Clubhouse

Jeff said...

Last year's 50th Anniversary celebration of Jackie Robinson Day was a very special event for me that I'll never forget. It was cold and overcast at Wrigley. Kyle Lohse threw a 2 hit shutout and Ted Lilly had a bite to his curveball I had never seen in person. I was sitting behind the Reds' dugout and I could literally reach out and wipe the tears from Ken Griffey, Jr's eyes during the pre-game ceremonies. To see a boyhood hero become emotional was enough to make me emotional. I agree with Bauman and second Michael Norton's disappointment with Alyssa getting more attention than Jackie.

Matt said...

Violent incident?

Paul, Violent as in "met a violent end". All parties agree this was an accident. Any foul play will be after the fall.


Nice Jr story. On Bauman, I share his basic historical footing but not his hysterical conclusions.

We need to move forward on race, but in light of hard fought MLK recognition, isnt a Jackie Robinson Natl holiday rather superfluous to this end? I dont question Bauman's sincerity on race, but suspect part of his agenda here is to elevate MLB (his employer)more prominently and favorably in the national conversation.

Some of Bauman's implications about Ferraro are as bad as what she said about Barack

The idea that African-Americans are catching breaks based on race still has some adherents among the less evolved elements of the Caucasian population

Less evolved elements? Puh-leese. Intelligent, well meaning people cant disagree on the influence of afffirmative action? Cant debate the two way merits of race based politics?

It is apparently possible to run for the second highest office in the land, to be a public figure in American life, and to still understand nothing of contemporary American society, or for that matter, of American history.

Nothing? Ferraro understands nothing about society or history? Maybe she understands the defining moment of her own professional career was being elevated on the national stage as a gender token? Maybe she understands a little something about politics? I daresay she has a richer, more visceral understanding than Mike Bauman ever gleaned from college textbooks. I dont agree with the wholesale transfer of her personal experience to Obama, but to conclude she knows "nothing" is illogical and condescending.

What Ms. Ferraro said would be the equivalent of saying in 1947: "Robinson is only getting this chance with the Dodgers because he isn't white."

Bull. It's the difference between kicking an entire race when it's down and recognizing, in 2008, that Obama has a very compelling story to tell, a story embracing mixed race, that appeals to millions of contemporary Americans.

As one who more or less shares Bauman's position that the ravages of Jim Crow trump all, I suspect being black is still a net political (or popular) disadvantage, but far less than it was in 1947. Ferraro's remarks seem more politically than racially motivated to me, and while I disagree with them, not particularly outrageous.

PAUL said...

I dunno. I think the phrasing in the posting implies violence as in the criminal type.
"Any foul play will be after the fall."
Are you implying the legal action that is undoubtedly going to be taken by the family is going to be rife with the trickery of the Wilpon family's high-priced lawyers? If I were the Mets or any other organization the family wouldn't receive one dime. First they lied about what the poor guy was doing by saying he "tripped"; then the truth came out that he was sliding down the banister. As tragic an accident as it is, it was the guy's own fault and the Mets aren't responsible for his stupidity (or possible drunkenness) in my opinion. (The law may differ, but again, I dunno.)

Jeff said...

Did I mention I can't add? I thought last year was 1997. Whew. How time flies, eh?

Though I agree Bauman's comparison of Ferraro's statements to Robinson's situation is a bit ludicrous, I think what bothers people the most was her staunch refusal to retract her statements, which made her appear more foolish than she is. If she would have just not commented at all, people wouldn't have cared so much IMO.

Where I agree with Bauman is that we can't just blow over the Robinson Day with a few salutes and players wearing 42, just as we shouldn't blow over the passing of September 11th without really taking a moment to remember. They are two totally different situations/events, I know, but I believe they are both extremely important in solidifying the identity of our nation. A little more fanfare for Apr. 15 wouldn't be a bad thing. We, the people, owe Jackie that much.

Matt said...


thx for your comments.

I dont sense the country is "blowing over" the import of Jackie Robinson at all. Well, other than MLBLogs, maybe ;-)

He's a recognized, respected historical figure celebrated with the likes of Parks and Chavez - not just in ballparks, but in schools, popular culture (Do The Right Thing), etc.

I'm just not sure how honoring JR with a national holiday, specifically, will help solidify our identity as a nation. I guess I feel that's the role of MLK Day, something we fought hard for here in Arizona, and that a JR "day" flirts with diminishing returns; the difference between officially recognizing King's timeless ideal of racial justice and sort of beating people over the head with a redundant, half century old example of related injustice.

It's an important story, that can -and will - be told in the private sector for many yrs. From where I sit, it sounds like you just want an extra day off work ;-)

I think what bothers people the most was her [Ferraro's] staunch refusal to retract her statements, which made her appear more foolish than she is.

I didnt realize that, and it makes alot of sense. That's what got Al Campanis fired. Not the initial statement, but his failure to clarify after Koppel gave him several opportunities to do so :-)

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Russell said...

It's always interesting to me how focused on "stories" American sport is. I think Jeff said something similar re the over-emphasis on the Doug Davis cancer operation. UK sport has virtually no such sense of history in that regard, but if you were to ask an average Brit to name a black athlete who broke down barriers the vast majority would say Jesse Owens, I don't know how he and Jackie compare in US sporting folklore?

Matt said...

Owens has independent chroniclers (like Bud Greenspan's Olympiad)to sustain his legacy somewhat, but nothing to compare with an exploitive conglomerate like MLB.

Also, except for the Olympics, track is virtually invisible in the US, and increasingly crowded out by everything from NASCAR to trick shot bowling.

When I was a kid, Owens, Joe Louis and Robinson were all kinda mushed together - I think it's fair to say Owens and Lewis were revered by more whites - probably for acting like "proper" blacks. Now, I'd say the racial hero banner is held jointly by Robinson and Muhammed Ali - the earlier two are virtually forgotten.

Owens is a personal hero of mine. I have a 1936 keepsake from Berlin featuring some of his exploits, and my wedding reception was actually held on the banks of the Olentangy, just a long jump or two from OSU's Jesse Owens Stadium .

(Crazy Ohio dame, what can I say.)

Rusell said...

I think that's why you can't really have a Jackie Robinson day as a national holiday, because there are other candidates with equal claim to having an effect on society through their sporting achievments.

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