Thanks for making it a memorable one, Andre.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Thanks for making it a memorable one, Andre.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Over at Sons of Steve Garvey, Orel relayed a story that started on the MLB message boards, got picked up by a Nationals blog called Federal Baseball, then by Big League Stew. And now I'm mentioning it. The gist of it is this: a Red Sox fan was heading down to D.C. for the Sox/Nationals series, and he asked Nationals fans if they could recommend a bar. They recommended a gay bar, the guy went there, everyone had a good laugh.
Except for me, of course, because I am the killjoy when it comes to homophobic content, no matter how vague it may be. Here's what I wrote in the comments section over at SoSG:
My first reaction was to laugh about this. But then the gay rights activist in me was like, "Okay, so he was sent to a gay bar. So what?" And the guy had to get out of there as fast as he could, I guess just in case he was raped or something. Those gay boys just can't keep it in their pants, am I right?
I guess my issue just lies in the idea that the worst possible punishment the Nats fans could think of for this guy would be to send him to a gay bar. And as long as this is the prevailing mindset, I'll continue to have an uphill battle.
I'm not trying to get totally up in arms about this because it's certainly not the most blatant example of anti-gay "jokes" I've seen, particularly since I spend my time reading a lot of sports blogs. Fanerman, another SoSG reader, responded with this:
...maybe it's just easy for me (a straight male) to say, but it doesn't seem that... bad.
The joke does play on homophobia (and the guy seemed to have some), and that mindset does indicate the uphill battle. But, to me, it doesn't feel much more than the kind of politically incorrect practical joke that guys do to each other. As far as how bad the punishment is, how many kinds of bars are there?
Yes, we could get into the whole "oh, everything has to be so PC now that no one can make a joke argument," but I don't know if I have the energy for that right now. The bottom line for me is that the mindset is the problem, and as long as it's considered even borderline acceptable for jokes of this type to be made at the expense of gay people, we have a problem.
Any sort of event that furthers the attitude that it's okay to make fun of gay people, however innocuous the joke may be, is grounds for complaint from the gay side of things. The idea is to change people's minds, and to make them see that we are the same as everyone else, and only want equal rights. Now, you might say, "okay, if you're the same as everyone else, then we should be able to make jokes about you." But the thing is, a lot of people aren't joking. A lot of people see the "gay rights movement" as a call to arms, a reason for them to stockpile weapons and spew hate whenever they get the chance. And if we continue to further this notion that "gay" equals "stupid" or "wrong," we simply lend credence to the idea that gay people are somehow less than human, and therefore not as deserving of the same rights the rest of you get.
Steve Sax of SoSG wrote me and had this to say:
[Maybe they were] just sending him someplace they figured wasn't consistent with what the BoSox fan expected (whether they knew for a fact or assumed). It's like Victoria Beckham rolling into town and asking for a furniture store and sending her to Ikea.
That is definitely a fair point. But when you actually go to read the message board (which you can find here), there is one post that jumps out at me. After the man came back from his gay bar adventure, and posted a comment thanking the fans for directing him there, one fan had this to say:
The original poster wanted to know of a good bar near the park, I just recommend [sic] the place where I thought a Red Sox fan would feel most comfortable.
Since it's clear the Nationals fans had a problem with the Sox fan asking for some advice about their city (their absurd reaction is an entirely different post that I won't bother with), you can almost create a syllogism out of this thing:
All Red Sox fans are stupid and awful for invading our ballpark to cheer for their team.
Gay people are stupid and awful.
All Red Sox fans are gay, and would therefore feel "most comfortable" in a gay bar.
Does that make it more obvious why this would bother someone like me? Hey, I'm not innocent, believe me. I have called someone who offended me a "fag" (though not to his/her face, ever) on more than one occasion, and I can't promise I won't do it again. So I'm part of the problem, for sure. But I'm working on it, which is more than I can say for most everyone else who makes these kind of jokes. This country is almost completely desensitized to the use of "gay" as a pejorative, and that doesn't make the fight for equal rights any easier.
I felt like I had already written about this, and it turns out I was right, as this post (the important part is after the baseball stuff, halfway into the post) from this time last year ago attests. And damned if that post isn't much, much better than this one.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The whole thing lasted about 30 minutes, with guys asking different questions about Jeff Weaver (he's starting on Saturday, and the Angels are sending his brother, Jered, to the mound), Jonathan Broxton (wasn't available last night because he got a cortisone shot for a toe problem), and a few other topics. If I had been on the ball, I could have transcribed them and gotten quotes to you last night, when they would have mattered, but I didn't get that done, so I won't bore you with them today.
I was standing next to Dan Shaughnessy the whole time, and didn't see him write a thing down, or use a tape recorder, for the majority of this time. I wasn't entirely sure what he was doing there, actually (after Torre was done, another reporter asked Shaughnessy if the Red Sox were in town, which is exactly what I had been thinking). Then, right near the end of the chat, Manny Ramirez was mentioned (he'll start his rehab assignment next week). That's when Shaughnessy perked up and finally started writing things down. Guess that answered the question as to why he was there at all.
Oh, and then something big happened. The subject of pitch counts came up somehow, and I decided to ask about Clayton Kershaw. So, after Torre had spent some time discussing how strike zones have changed over the years, we had the following exchange:
Me: Other than learning the umps, is there anything specific you're doing with, like, say, Kershaw, to keep him from throwing 77 pitches in four innings, like on Tuesday?
Torre: It's gonna be a process with him. Last night I thought he was very good. But still, as you see, his pitch count was a hundred. 'cause you don't count the intentional walk stuff because if you count that, you'll start counting warm-up pitches, too. He's just gonna have to feel for that. You know, and it comes down to trusting your stuff, and just the mental approach to the fact that, you know, you sit here and watch batting practice, and they know what's coming, and they don't hit every ball out of the ballpark. You know, but that's too simplistic to try to sort of compare the two. But that's what it amounts to. You have to trust your stuff, and make him hit the ball. But I just think the mentality has to change. I still think we're in a place where we're trying to keep 'em from hitting the ball, or even swinging at it.
But I did not stop there, friends. No way. Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times said something about the 1971 World Series, and how a pitcher had batted for himself in the eighth inning. Torre said that would never happen today, so I took that opportunity to ask him another question.
Me: Did you think about pinch-hitting for Kershaw in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game, when the game was still scoreless?
Torre: Um, you know what? I thought, a couple of things. I liked the way he was pitching. The fact, and a bigger part of it was that the first and the third hitters were left-handed the next inning. And tie game, to me, I still felt I had an advantage, being at home like that.
And with that, the chat was over. I had asked two questions, which was two more than I ever thought I would, and I didn't sound like a moron doing it. That was pretty damn cool.
So, as you know, the game ended badly, and I packed up my stuff and headed down to the clubhouse. I asked the guard at the door where Joe Torre's office was, but I didn't really understand his instructions, so I figured I would just follow the other reporters, because surely they would go listen to Torre talk about the game.
No joke. Except it was a little quieter in the Dodgers' clubhouse.
I crowded around Hiroki Kuroda while some other reporters asked him questions. They asked him how he feels since his return from the DL. He said, "Physically, I feel fine. I think I had stuff in me to throw one more inning, or two." He said it just happened that his spot in the batting order was coming up, and that's why Torre pulled him. Kuroda also said that, after he gave up some runs, he "maybe put a little pressure on [himself] and may have overthrown a bit."
After the Kuroda interview was over, I started to walk away, and ran into the reporter who had earlier admonished me not to be shy. I looked at him, then glanced back at Kuroda and said, "He bit me. I don't know if you saw that." I got a big laugh from that one.
Matt Kemp was asked if he feels like the Dodgers are never out of any game, what with their comeback abilities this year. He agreed with that, but also said, "I think we need to start scoring runs earlier." He admitted that the Dodgers "didn't take advantage" of mistakes the Athletics made.
Some reporters were interviewing Casey Blake, but I avoided that one because I saw how sad he looked as he stared into the locker when I first walked in the room. I guess he didn't like the fact that he was the final out in a one-run game, and I wanted to leave him alone.
I stood around a little more, then realized I didn't see most of the reporters in the clubhouse anymore. I couldn't hear Torre speaking, and I didn't know where the hell they had all gone. I know I could have asked, but I already felt awkward enough being there, and I had gotten enough of a high from the pre-game conference, so I figured I wouldn't miss much if I skipped out on this one. So, I headed out, followed closely by Rafael Furcal, who was already dressed in street clothes and ready to go home.
The one thing I didn't do was find Steve Lyons, to see if he was going to follow up on that wink. Oh well. There's always next time.
The slideshow is below. As always, click on it and you will be taken to a site (on a separate page) that allows you to view bigger pictures.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
- I'm still mad at Obama. I sent a penny to the White House in the mail today, as a symbol of the "lost change" that seems to be plaguing the administration these days. A meaningless token, yes, but it's a good start nonetheless.
- The Dodgers are winning, but they're not really hitting. They're headed home for three games this week to face the Athletics (and then on to Anaheim, which could be tough), so maybe the bats will welcome the rarified air of Chavez Ravine. We've got to get it going somehow.
- The Sox have a great bullpen, they've beaten the Yankees in all eight games they've played this season, and they just took two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies (aka the defending World Champions), so things are good.
- Remember when I wrote about the DodgersWIN initiative, and how I felt that the specialized broadcast, hosted by Jeanne Zelasko and Mark Sweeney, was condescending and rather sexist? Well, I did end up getting a response from Josh Rawitch, who essentially said that it's not sexist, and the intention is to engage female fans, and that it's a good thing that the Dodgers have a woman in place for a play-by-play position. It was a good email, and very nice of Josh to respond, and I can't say that I disagree with anything he wrote. I don't want to continue to rant against the organization on this particular topic, so my final word on the matter is this: I think it's great that Zelasko has the job; I love the idea of a female announcer. What I think my issue was with this whole thing was the way in which it was marketed. The press should have been more about the idea of Zelasko in the booth, and less about how she would be teaching all these uneducated women while on the job. No one likes being talked down to, but the Dodgers might have avoided that if it had just simply been hyped as "check this out, a female broadcaster! Another first for the Dodgers!" No need to tell us that she's there to make sure the little ladies understand the game; in a way, that is implied, and by stating it outright, we cross the sexist line. Okay, that's all on the subject.
- The Dodgers are offering free parking this week for the A's series. And they are promoting the hell out of it, for sure. Do I think free parking is great? I sure do. But as I said to a friend over the weekend, "Frank McCourt offering free parking for Dodger games, and then expecting credit for it, is like the arsonist expecting a reward after putting out the fire he started." Free parking wouldn't seem like such a big deal if the price weren't so atrocious to begin with, and if McCourt hadn't raised it almost 100% since purchasing the team. I've had plenty to say on the parking situation at the stadium in the past, and it hasn't gotten any cheaper (or more efficient) since then, so I guess there really isn't a point in beating a dead horse.