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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Glanville: Baseball, Faith and Doubt

Doug Glanville, on Melky Cabrera, Pete Rose and our game.

This is why I never bought one of the arguments in support of Pete Rose regarding his ban from baseball and the Hall of Fame for gambling on the sport. In comparing him to some of the less admirable men who were in the Hall, the argument goes that gambling was less offensive than, say, Ty Cobb’s racism. But gambling destroys the game itself, to its core. People question if what they see is real because anyone and everyone could be on the take. Was that error intentional? Was that strike really a ball? Cobb reflected a culture of his times, one that through today’s lens, seems disturbing and unfortunate, even dangerous. But the game can shrug that off. Cobb was not baseball. His opinions and prejudices were his own and at times, aligned with those of his times. But gambling on the game is considerably bigger. It brings into question every play, every player and his ability to directly influence the game. It changes the game from pure competition to patronizing choreography. Once revealed, doubt becomes certainty.

Reasonable doubt is doubt that makes us believe that something could have happened to support the possibility of innocence. That’s how Ryan Braun was exonerated. But the true danger is in spiritual doubt. The kind of doubt that creates an existential threat to the game. The day when a critical mass of fans decides that the game is really an incubator of these problems, that it celebrated these transgressions, allowed and even supported them — on that day the game is irreversibly at fault. “Reasonable” becomes certain. That will be a day that will change the game forever. Maybe even end it.

I would like to think that will not happen, that the game will remain bigger than any individual, that it can retain its aura of divinity and thrive through the very human acts of its participants. Maybe the game can absorb Cabrera as it has done with a litany of marquee players before.

Still it is probably safe to say that no currency, no matter how magical, is infinite. Eventually, enough players, or a certain kind of player, could send the game downhill, brakeless and irretrievable. We could reach that point where one player’s choice is the final, and fatal, element of doubt that creeps into the game.

I hope we never get there.

Repoz Posted: August 18, 2012 at 01:29 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2012 at 02:43 AM (#4211213)
Once again, Melky Cabrera is not a marquee player. Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, ARod, Sosa, and Braun have all been hauled in front of the court of public opinion and found guilty yet baseball attendance and revenues hold steady and go up in a depressed economy. Baseball is about to sell their national broadcasting rights for an obscene amount of money and MLBAM appears to be a major cash cow. The Marlins, of all teams, just managed to get a new publicly-funded staidum. The San Diego Padres -- small market, low revenue, no star players, no great history and I assume a non-astronomical broadcast package -- are being sold for $800 M. $800 M for the San Diego Padres. The deal with Moorad that fell through in 2009 was for just $500 M. Maybe rich people are getting bored buying nothing but T-bills.

The day when a critical mass of fans decides that the game is really an incubator of these problems, that it celebrated these transgressions, allowed and even supported them — on that day the game is irreversibly at fault. “Reasonable” becomes certain. That will be a day that will change the game forever. Maybe even end it.

Glanville is right but (see above) there is no evidence this is happening. Yes, a group are being turned off but apparently they are mostly not baseball fans or they're fans who didn't go to games or they're being replaced by a group of new fans that's at least as large or maybe us steroid lovers are just buying tickets in droves now.

Given the parade of stars linked to steroids already and Glanville's own example of Rose and the historic example of the Black Sox, it's hard to imagine what could push things towards the tipping point. The only things I can think of are if a third of the league tests positive or the entire starting lineup of the WS champs.

It continues to amuse me that football players get massive, strong and fast and there's very little innuendo and I don't see articles foretelling the pending illegitimacy of football.

   2. Steve N Posted: August 18, 2012 at 05:24 AM (#4211224)
Glanville was never one of my favorite players but he is no dummy and knows how to write.
   3. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 18, 2012 at 09:48 AM (#4211248)
Football's pending 'death' takes a different route, brain injury, that *may* ultimately run through steroids.
   4. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 18, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4211286)
Glanville only ever had one very good season, but I remember the Philly press luuuuuurrrrrrvvvved him. I assume because he was local and fun to talk to. When I was younger, this kind of thing used to bother me a lot. Now I understand it better.
   5. Bob Tufts Posted: August 18, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4211396)
As has been said by Zig Ziglar, “Economists have accurately predicted something like ten of the last two recessions.” This applies to those predicting the end of baseball.

The love for Glanville dates back to his UPenn days. One of the stories that made him appreciated in the media was when he didn't play in a doubleheader due to having to deal with coursework in systems science and engineering despite scouts being on hand to see him.
   6. GregD Posted: August 18, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4211445)
Glanville only ever had one very good season, but I remember the Philly press luuuuuurrrrrrvvvved him. I assume because he was local and fun to talk to. When I was younger, this kind of thing used to bother me a lot. Now I understand it better.
I too used to be irritated by the love for a guy who was a meh player, but like you I kind of get it now. Sportswriters on the whole are at least average in education and sophistication, and baseball players I would guess on the whole come in well below average in both. Not talking innate intelligence but the things education brings. It would get old talking to dumb people all the time, not to mention the proudly dumb. I can just imagine the relief when they got someone like Glanville who was an actually interesting human being for things that had nothing to do with his ability to run fast.
   7. tjm1 Posted: August 18, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4211455)
I too used to be irritated by the love for a guy who was a meh player, but like you I kind of get it now. Sportswriters on the whole are at least average in education and sophistication, and baseball players I would guess on the whole come in well below average in both. Not talking innate intelligence but the things education brings. It would get old talking to dumb people all the time, not to mention the proudly dumb. I can just imagine the relief when they got someone like Glanville who was an actually interesting human being for things that had nothing to do with his ability to run fast.


It's more than that, though. Glanville is way smarter than most sportswriters, and sometimes that plays badly with writers, but Glanville is also polite and humble and extroverted - the kind of guy who is both likeable and makes the jobs of the writers easier. Also, he was always hustling - it wasn't like he was capable of hitting .350 with power and just wasn't putting an effort in.
   8. GregD Posted: August 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4211460)
It's more than that, though. Glanville is way smarter than most sportswriters, and sometimes that plays badly with writers, but Glanville is also polite and humble and extroverted - the kind of guy who is both likeable and makes the jobs of the writers easier. Also, he was always hustling - it wasn't like he was capable of hitting .350 with power and just wasn't putting an effort in.
That's true. People like Carlton or Quiz or Dick Allen were plenty smart; that didn't help them much with the press. On the whole I'd guess now that you say so that the guys who cut off the press entirely are probably on the whole the smartest people. Just as a reasonably intelligent sportswriter would get tired of trying to "talk" to an idiot like Len Dykstra, so too would a genuinely smart player get tired of the inane nature of the questions sportswriters ask.
   9. tjm1 Posted: August 18, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4211467)
That's true. People like Carlton or Quiz or Dick Allen were plenty smart; that didn't help them much with the press. On the whole I'd guess now that you say so that the guys who cut off the press entirely are probably on the whole the smartest people. Just as a reasonably intelligent sportswriter would get tired of trying to "talk" to an idiot like Len Dykstra, so too would a genuinely smart player get tired of the inane nature of the questions sportswriters ask.


Some others: Mike Marshall, Ted Williams. Bill Lee was well-liked by about half the media and hated by about half. Carlos Delgado wasn't afraid to call out stupidity in the media, although I don't remember it ever really coming back on him.

I had thought Quisenberry had a good relationship with the media. Maybe it was just Denny Matthews he got along with.
   10. GregD Posted: August 18, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4211471)
I had thought Quisenberry had a good relationship with the media. Maybe it was just Denny Matthews he got along with.
I could be wrong. James talks about how Quiz was misunderstood by the media for telling them when their questions were silly.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: August 18, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4211474)
I could be wrong. James talks about how Quiz was misunderstood by the media for telling them when their questions were silly.


I think Quiz generally got along with everyone, though as a lovable wiseass.
The three players with the most difficult relationship with the media during his era were Carlton, Eddie Murray and Jim Rice.

And if Pat Jordan's piece was accurate, I think Carlton did himself a favor by clamming up.

   12. jwb Posted: August 18, 2012 at 04:53 PM (#4211515)
Carlos Delgado wasn't afraid to call out stupidity in the media, although I don't remember it ever really coming back on him.

Don't you remember the beating he took in the press for opposing Gulf War II?
   13. tjm1 Posted: August 18, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4211533)
Don't you remember the beating he took in the press for opposing Gulf War II?


Well, I think what really got him in trouble was hiding in the clubhouse during "God Bless America", which was related to the war, but a bit different from just saying that he opposed the way.

What I meant was that I don't remember him ever getting a lot of flak for saying thing like that the "White Jays" article was one of the stupidest things he'd ever read.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: August 18, 2012 at 05:37 PM (#4211548)
Don't you remember the beating he took in the press for opposing Gulf War II?


Honestly, no, that's not how I remember it. And when I googled Carlos Delgado protest, I didn't find anything that was critical of his stance, and many that were very complimentary.

He did get crap from Yankee fans when it was discovered, but the Times article that alerted them to his stance was, for example, quite positive.

   15. rr Posted: August 18, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4211549)
The three players with the most difficult relationship with the media during his era were Carlton, Eddie Murray and Jim Rice.


Not as famous as those guys, but also: George Hendrick.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: August 18, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4211576)
Not as famous as those guys, but also: George Hendrick.


Beat me to it. I keep hoping to hear more from him, I think I heard an interview once after a Cardinals game, in which he was at Mike Shannon's with a couple of other guys, but not 100% sure on that. I know that he gets quoted by Horton from time to time which makes me wish he would speak up once in a while.

Honestly, no, that's not how I remember it. And when I googled Carlos Delgado protest, I didn't find anything that was critical of his stance, and many that were very complimentary.

He did get crap from Yankee fans when it was discovered, but the Times article that alerted them to his stance was, for example, quite positive.


The mainstream press didn't really beat him up on it, it was the tv blowhards(Fox news) and the blogosphere that went after him. The press mostly reported it and that was it. I do think that the anti-god bless america crowd(who I'm a proud member) made a bigger deal out of every little minor negative comment than the actual mood of the country.
   17. Bob Tufts Posted: August 18, 2012 at 11:33 PM (#4211705)
Quiz on the life of a closer:

"A manager uses a relief pitcher like a six shooter, he fires until it's empty then takes the gun and throws it at the villain."
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: August 19, 2012 at 12:44 AM (#4211724)
"A manager uses a relief pitcher like a six shooter, he fires until it's empty then takes the gun and throws it at the villain."


If he throws it at Superman, he'll flinch. :)

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