A guy name Andrew posted the following in repsonse to my letter to the MJS sports editor, but given that the comments didn’t survive the transition that our blog made here at MVN, I thought I’d repost it and respond to it.
Forgive me for perhaps also being “naive” here, but I’m wondering if your post about your admittedly appropriate editorial did not dissolve into the very bias of which you accuse Hadricourt [sic]. While I also count myself “left of center,” and agree that most ballplayers are probably of a different political mindset, how does that necessitate that “the lot of them are…conceited, uninformed, disconnected, superficial, idiotic jerks”? That seems like a bit of a jump, sir. Unless, of course, you’re making into the same mistake Hadricourt does by “associating particular political stances for character” or lack thereof. It’s true that ballplayers are guilty of being spoiled, aloof, and shallow, but I don’t think that has anything to do with them being conservatives. If I’m mistaken, and it does, then perhaps we should also analyze how the majority of left-leaning political bloggers I’ve read are smugly, even hypocritically, self-righteous, yourself now included. If being a CNN junkie or NPR addict is enough to qualify one as a ballplayer worth rooting for in your book, and if none of them “are worth idolizing” because they are of a different political persuasion than yourself, then personally I am glad you have turned to the cold hard stats of the game.
First off, I am certainly not able to deny that I am biased, or leftist. I am both. And while my criticism of Haudricourt stands — and I think it is valid — I certainly did not mean to say that baseball players are “conceited, uninformed, disconnected, superficial, idiotic jerks” because they right-wingers politically. I think that is a separate issue. Rather, I think that they become these things because they’ve been lauded all their life for their athletic ability, have things handed to them, get filthy rich for playing a game, don’t really have to live in the real world (whatever that is anyway), etc. It happens with most celebrities to one degree or another, especially professional athletes. That privilegde very well might inform their political opinions, but that is probably too undiscernable a connection to make in good conscience. I did not mean to make such a connection, but our good reader Andrew was warranted in bringing it up and calling me out. As for myself, I may be smug. Hell, I’m an elitist. But I’m not requiring a ballplayer to be leftist for me to “like” him (would Fidel Castro have been my favorite player of all time? probably not), I’m just asking him to be more palpably human, a bit more nuanced. That’s why I always liked Dennis Rodman — yeah he loved attention, but the guy was weird, and he was honest about it. In the meantime, he was the best rebounder in the history of professional basketball. But as I said, I’ve learned to repress my need for idols (that has been a dangerous and destructive need for the human race) in favor of a more objective and comprehensive view of the game. As I see it, character has very little to do with how one plays the game, and so in the end I don’t care what Suppan thinks about political issues. If he adds wins to the team, I’m for it.