The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Rice Rice Baby

The local free press just covered Jim Rice’s Hall induction, and, as is par for the course with this valueless rag, they took a happy moment and tried to load it up with as much leftist hand-wringing poseur bullshit as they possibly could. Their angle on this story? That Boston is incredibly racist because Jim Rice’s induction celebration wasn’t big enough.

Now, let’s ignore the fact that "OMG Boston is racist" is number four on the Top Ten List of hackneyed bullshit stories that lazy journalists like to write. Their complaint wasn’t that Jim Rice’s Hall induction was ignored. The complaint wasn’t that people were protesting in the streets that a coloured man could be considered good at baseball, clearly the white man’s game. No, the complaint is that the "level of excitement" was not as high as it was when Carlton Fisk was inducted into the Hall in 2000.

This is an important complaint. I checked Carlton Fisk’s Hall of Fame Excitement Level (HoFEL) on Baseball Reference, and it’s an amazing 1.315 (!!). Jim Rice only gets a .835, which is a lot lower than I expected, but it turns out that the formula in fact docks Rice .097 for getting in on his fifteenth ballot, .063 for playing an easy defensive position, and an astonishing .617 for being black. I didn’t believe it either, but there you are, folks: science does not lie, and this completely objective statistical measurement tells the whole story. I’d like to thank high-quality reporter Alan Bisbort for calling our attention to this important and frequently overlooked element of racism. I didn’t even realise how much I hated Jim Rice for being black before I read that article. It seems like just the other day when I was writing about how Jim Rice was my favourite player when I was a kid. Fortunately, through the magic of statistical analysis, I now know that, in fact, I only kind-of sort-of liked him.

The best part of the whole thing, of course, is that, even assuming that this bullshit "level of excitement felt lower" claim is accurate, he goes on to list a some non-trivial reasons why that might be the case which are not "because Jim Rice is black," but then pooh-poohs them in favour of his preordained conclusion. Seriously. He talks about Rice’s embattled relationship with the Boston media, and he mentions that Rice got in on his fifteenth ballot (meaning he retired twenty years ago, meaning a whole lot of people don’t really remember Jim Rice or never got to see him in the first place). But then, out of the blue, he decides that the only answer is racial enmity.

Supporting evidence? Why, he once saw Rice get race-baited by white people! At… an away game. And those white people were Yankees fans. Seriously, dude. The Yankees fans taunting the Red Sox’s top slugger and team captain (yes, jackass, he was the captain of this horribly racist team) are not doing that because they hate black people. They’re doing that because they hate the Red Sox, and they’re trying to get him worked up so he doesn’t goddamn destroy their team in his next at-bat. You don’t think so? Then riddle me this: did they taunt Reggie Jackson the same way? Oh, they didn’t? Weird. ‘Cause, you know, I thought he was black, too. Though I freely admit that I have a documented history of being bad at this. Oh, and while I’m on the subject: how again does the fact that Jim Rice got race-baited by Yankees fans at Memorial Stadium prove that Boston is racist? You do seem to realise that the Yankees are not a Boston team and that Memorial Stadium is not in Boston. Are you sure this anecdote supports the point you’re trying to make, which is that the Boston Red Sox from Boston are racist toward black people in Boston? Next time, pick an anecdote that involves Boston. It will work better, I promise.

And, just to deal with your final straw man: yes, we know the Red Sox were the last team to integrate. Everyone knows this, because people like you will not stop flagellating us with it. What that does not mean is that, fifty years later, that same institutionalised racism that prevented the team from integrating for twelve years prior was responsible for making Jim Rice wait a few years to get into the Hall. Jim Rice, who was, I repeat, the captain of this hopelessly racist organisation in this hopelessly racist city.

No. Jim Rice took fifteen years to get into the Hall because he pissed off a lot of reporters — who are, by the way, the people who decide who gets into the Hall — and because his numbers were very borderline. But he did get into the Hall, and this is almost entirely because the fans — the Boston fans, mind you, because he played his entire career for the racist Boston Red Sox from racist fucking Boston — loved him so much that eventually the BBWAA caved and let him in. If his "level of excitement" was lower than Pudge Fisk’s, it was probably mainly because he retired twenty years before his induction, which Pudge did not.

In conclusion, fuck you. And also in conclusion, here’s a fun fact. You know what specific anecdote people think about when they think of Jim Rice? What one single feat he performed that really sticks in people’s minds? It’s not an awesome catch, or a monster home run, or a silly clubhouse prank. No, people remember the time Jim Rice saved a child’s life through the sheer power of awesome. They think about this. Fuck you we don’t appreciate Jim Rice because we’re racist.

July 28th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments

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