The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet


That boy ain’t right

Alex Remington is a pretty smart guy. Knows a lot about baseball numbers. Unfortunately for the world, he would rather write endless cloying articles about how unjust baseball is — and that’s socially unjust, which, as most people who don’t know anything about anything will tell you, is the worst kind. Here’s the new polemic, in which Alex utterly fails to see the forest for one big fucking tree. Let’s take a closer look!

Milton Bradley and the "Race Card"

Do you see what I put myself through for you people? You better appreciate this.

"In 1987, on deck in Boston, and I was called an Alabama porch monkey… I’d like to be able to say yes [to the question of whether racism has declined], but my mail and my telephone calls suggest otherwise."
– White Sox GM and former White Sox center fielder Kenny Williams, September 22, 2009

Kenny Williams is an idiot and I don’t care what he thinks, but it’s worth noting that this quote adds nothing to the article no matter how many doubts you give him the benefit of. Fans of the opposing team trying to get under a hitter’s skin and distract him? Say not so, Kenneth! Oh, and it was in 1987. Topical. Current.

"I was a prisoner in my own home."
– Milton Bradley, March 9, 2010

Somehow I don’t think there were gangs of white supremacists hanging out in Milton’s neighborhood and forcing him to stay indoors. I mean, I guess maybe there were.

Milton Bradley was a complicated man. The usual word was "controversial"; it accompanied stories about him as often as the phrase "race card."

The usual word, actually, was "asshole." It’s just something that gets edited out of print articles is all, Alex.

Bradley was rarely happy and always seemed to mention race, appearing time and again in stories in which he criticized people for making racially inappropriate remarks.

Let’s see if we can unpack an important truth from this statement. So Bradley always mentions race. Bradley is frequently cited accusing other people of racism. Hmm. Nope, nothing yet. Let’s hold on to this for later.

I think that the frequency of these stories tended to dilute their impact.

Frankly, I wouldn’t be particularly impacted by any alleged adult whining about other dudes being mean to him.

Many people found it hard to take Bradley seriously — he was frequently awful, and it was easy to believe that he was just blaming other people for his problems.

But how could that be? If there’s one thing I learned from The Curious Case of Luis Castillo, it’s that black people never suck at baseball. The only reason our stupid white data thinks they do is because it’s fucking racist.

But with Bradley, it was never just about baseball. "Me being an African-American is the most important thing to me — more important than baseball," he told USA Today in 2005, during an interview in which he said his teammate Jeff Kent "doesn’t know how to deal with African-American people." Most people viewed this episode as yet another example of Bradley sounding off.

Another bit of info for our file: Milton Bradley considered being black more important than playing baseball. Milton Bradley also said that his problems with Jeff Kent weren’t caused by Jeff Kent not liking him, but by Jeff Kent having a problem with all black people.

But that may have been unfair to Bradley. Kent was disliked by many of his teammates, and in 2001, Salon’s Joan Walsh asked why Jeff Kent received more favorable media coverage than teammate Barry Bonds, despite the fact that both were rather famous for being jerks.

Hmm. Why steroids would the media be less favourable to Barry steroids Bonds than Jeff porn mustache Kent? I have no steroids idea. Must be steroids racism, then.

"The two crucial differences between Bonds and Kent: One is that while Kent may not chat up fans and kids or make nice with his teammates, he always talks to the media," wrote Walsh. "The other key difference is that Kent is white and Bonds is black."

Hmm. Hmmmmmm. Now, I realise I’m white, and therefore automatically racist, but doesn’t it seem like one of these differences is perhaps more key than the other?

There are two crucial differences between the Core i7 and the 80088. One is that the Core i7 is much, much better at everything that’s actually germane to this discussion. The other is that the 80088 has more 8s in its name. So clearly tech writers are all 8ists. QED

Later in the interview about Kent, Bradley expressed the belief that many people refuse to see racial tension before their eyes: "White people never want to see race — with anything."

Don’t capitalise after a colon, Alex.

Sorry, sorry. I know. More to the point: Alex Remington is white, and he wants to see race with everything. And he ain’t the only one. But we’re men of science, here — what about data? What does the data we’ve been collecting throughout this article tell us? It tells me that Milton Bradley is fucking obsessed with race. You really think racism is the only possible explanation for not getting along with legendary clubhouse dickhead Jeff Kent, Milton? Wow.

Also, not to stir the pot, but when Milton Bradley makes these blanket statements about how "white people" do this and this and that… that’s not racism? Did words start meaning different things sometime in the middle of this article?

While he was in Chicago, Milton Bradley spoke of being taunted with racial epithets from the stands and on the street, and of receiving racist hate mail — and, because former Cubs Jacque Jones and Latroy Hawkins made similar claims, as has White Sox GM Kenny Williams, in the quote I gave at the beginning of this article.

VERB WANTED. Apply within.

Bradley’s mother, Charlena Rector, said that Bradley’s three-year old son had also faced vicious abuse: "Parents, teachers and their kids called him the n-word."

Not saying she’s lying or nuthin’, but I think the definition of "vicious" might be suffering from mission creep here.

Yet Bradley’s claims of facing racism have often been taken with a grain of salt.

So have Bradley’s claims of nearly everything else. He’s a bullshit artist, and people are sick of his act.

When Bradley made his comments to the Chicago Sun-Times about the racism he had faced, team officials told ESPN’s Bruce Levine that they were "incensed" by the story

Because — which you omit from your pithy summary, which is: naughty naughty — Milton Bradley accused an unnamed person in the Cubs organisation of writing him race-baiting letters. As in: he smeared the team. Baselessly. No copies of these letters were produced. So, yeah, they were pretty pissed about that.

columnist David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune belittled him for his claims: "Poor Milton Bradley whined again to ESPN about how hard Wrigley Field can be for black players," and compared Bradley unfavorably to Derrek Lee, whom he called "one of the most popular modern Cubs of any race."

Yeah, that article was sort of shitheaded. That’s what sports opinion writers are paid to do, though: fan the flames.

Perhaps Haugh didn’t intend it to sound this way, but that sentence implies that African-American players aren’t normally popular, and that it’s therefore out of the ordinary that a player like Derrek Lee could be beloved in the city.

What? No it fucking doesn’t, Alex. That’s insane. Did anybody — anybody at all! — reading this article honestly read that sentence and think that the deeper meaning is clearly that Cubs fans hate black people?

Another columnist, Joey Baskerville of the Freeport, Illinois Journal-Standard, suggested that few people took Bradley seriously, writing:

I may be in the minority, but I actually believe Bradley’s accusations that some Cubs fans crossed the line of heckling and shouted racial slurs at him while he played in Chicago.

What "line" of heckling? There is no such fucking "line." What planet do you people come from? Here on planet Internets, trolling does not follow your Victorian-nouveau ideas of taste and appropriateness. The whole point of trolling is to piss people off. If a dude has clearly indicated that he’s easily pissed off by a certain line of attack, people will use it.

That said: I’m sure some people did race-bait Bradley. Is that a sign that baseball is hopelessly racist? I’m thinking it’s more a sign that Bradley is super fucking touchy about race, so people harp on it when they want to wind him up. The very fact that people did not race-bait Derrek Lee seems, to my mind, to prove that they are not anti-black, but rather anti-Milton Bradley.

Now remember what an asshole Milton Bradley was the whole time he was with the team.

In 2004, with the Dodgers, he got fed up with answering questions by L.A. Times reporter Jason Reid, and called Reid an "Uncle Tom."

But not in a racist way, you understand.

Adande noted that Bradley hypocritically appeared to expect that African-American journalists would give him more favorable coverage despite the fact that he could be prickly to them.

Also not racist.

This was one of the great tragedies of Milton Bradley’s career: he viewed the world through the lens of racism, and correctly perceived that a lot of people viewed him negatively — and then he contributed to that self-fulfilling prophecy.

Aha! So now you’re going to rewrite this article and take out all the bullshit hand-wringing, right?

There is no question that Milton Bradley received racial abuse.

There is also no question that Milton Bradley has given racial abuse. So your point is… ?

He reacted badly to the abuse, but it is hard to react well to hate mail, and much of the disapprobation heaped on Bradley — chiding him for admitting that he has been the target of racism — amounts to blaming the victim.

What? Fuck right off. Bradley is the victim of his own self-destructive assholery and nothing else. In the real world — where apparently millionaire athletes and professional sportswriters don’t live — people will say mean things to you. How you deal with that shows what kind of person you are. If you prate about what a big damn victim you are, even while going on record dishing out exactly the same type of abuse, people will think you’re a shithead. Get your head right out of the gutter of collectivism and start thinking about Bradley not as a statistic on your "black baseball players" roster and as an individual man with individual actions and responses, and all your fake-o anguish melts right away.

"Some people" did not like Milton Bradley. "Some people" maybe even didn’t like him because he’s black, though they were oddly silent on the subjects of Derrek Lee, Andre Dawson, and Fergie Jenkins. Does this mean that "Cubs fans" are racist? Or that "Baseball" is racist? No it goddamn doesn’t. Cubs fans are not a homogeneous collective that can be sensibly smeared en masse. "Chicago" is not an incarnate being with motives and desires and thoughts and actions. You are a goddamn moron if you can’t wrap your head around this simple concept.

Milton Bradley is quite right when he says that many people simply don’t want to see racism. That desire not to see is exactly what has fueled the skepticism over Bradley’s claims over the years. W.E.B. Du Bois correctly predicted that the color line would be the problem of the twentieth century. Though Jim Crow is gone, our discomfort with race remains. Flawed as he was, Milton Bradley deserved better than he got.

Oh please. Spare me your simpering. Milton Bradley got what he deserved, and he tried very hard to get it. "Our" discomfort with race does not remain, on account of you have not been approved to speak on behalf of this nonexistent collective "us." I don’t give two shits if Milton Bradley is black or white or Mexican, or even a slant like that Fukudome kid.

Insisting on sorting people into categories based on their skin colour is probably the most pervasive form of racism that ever was, Alex. Think about that.

May 12th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | one comment