Many times, in the course of these rants, I have linked everyone to “Recommended Readings”. Today, I want you to follow this link and read a column written by Charles Pierce at SI.com. This is more than a “Recommended Reading” but obviously I will stop short of calling it a “Required Reading”. In this column, Professor Pierce eviscerates anyone and everyone who has been associated even tangentially with the sexual abuse of US gymnastic athletes by Dr. Larry Nassar and parallel offenses against athletes at Michigan St. University. It is a lengthy piece, but it is worth your time; in particular, read his quotation of the remarks to the court by US gymnastics medalist Aly Raisman during the sentencing hearing. Her statement ought to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
I part company with Professor Pierce on only one aspect of his diatribe. He wants everyone in a position of authority/responsibility in the area of athletes and student safety/security at USA Gymnastics, and the USOC and Michigan State to lose their jobs. I have no problem with that AFTER it is shown that the individual losing the job actually did something to aid or abet or cover up or excuse what Dr. Nassar did. For those folks, I have no tolerance or pity. For anyone who was truly innocent/ignorant bystanders (and not ever-so-conveniently “ignorant by choice”) I do not think he/she should be swept out with the rest of the trash.
After you have read the column from SI.com, please follow this link and read what Sally Jenkins wrote in today’s Washington Post. The culpability for the heinous things that happened to these young gymnasts goes beyond a single enabler or two; it needs to be ferreted out and expunged from existence. The USOC execs have promised an “independent investigation”; that is not good enough; this situation is so revolting that it triggers my threshold for the appointment of a special prosecutor. In addition to seeing the truly guilty folks here lose their jobs, I think some “time in the tank” might be most appropriate at the conclusion of the work done by a special prosecutor.
Given that Dr. Nassar has been sentenced to anywhere between 60 and 175 years in prison, it is a good bet that this man in his mid-50’s will die in prison. Given that he subjected tens of young women athletes to sexual manipulation and abuse using his position as a position of power/authority over them, I would not be personally offended if he spent his prison time as the sex slave of other inmates. I do know that would violate the 8th Amendment barring “cruel and unusual punishments”. Legally, the situation I outlined above would indeed be “cruel and unusual”; given the circumstances, I would see it more along the lines of tit-for-tat retribution.
The newest class of inductees into the MLB Hall of Fame was announced yesterday. Just before Christmas, I said that if I had a vote – which I do not and never will – I would have voted for 5 candidates:
- Vlad Guerrero
- Trevor Hoffman
- “Chipper”: Jones
- Edgar Martinez
- Jim Thome
The Hall will welcome Guerrero, Hoffman, Jones and Thome in July 2018. Edgar Martinez did not make the cut but of the 23 other players on the ballot, Edgar Martinez got the greatest number of votes. So, I ought to be strutting around the cyberworld here and patting myself on the back for prescience – – but I am not because the Hall of Fame voting in all the major sports is not an uplifting event.
Let me focus on baseball here because that is the most recent selection process at hand. The Hall of Fame was set up to be a place of enjoyment; I have enjoyed going to Cooperstown since the first time I was there in the early 1970s. I do not stand in awe or reverence in front of the plaques commemorating the great players of the game; I do not feel overwhelmed by nostalgia when I look at the shoes worn by Joe Flabeetz when he stole his 500th base; that sort of reaction misses the point as far as I am concerned.
Baseball is a game that has endured for more than 125 years and it is a game that has embraced it history as part of its attractiveness for fans. The Hall of Fame is a place where a fan of baseball – and not merely the fan of a single team – can surround himself/herself with the high notes of the history of baseball. Instead of feeling awe or reverence or nostalgia, I feel immersed in the game. And the annual selection process produces news reports full of bile that are hard to forget/ignore when one is trying to feel immersed in the history of the game.
As soon as the voting is revealed and the new class of inductees are revealed, far too many folks get their spleen in an uproar and go into what a former colleague of mine called BMWCG Mode. That is an acronym for Bitching, Moaning, Whining, Complaining and Griping Mode. People who did not vote for an author’s favorite player on the ballot are irredeemably ignorant about baseball and/or have some sort of vendetta they are carrying out against the player who did not make it this time. By the same token, people who voted for someone who may not have made it – – but came dangerously close to making it – – can be subject to the wrath of those who believe the player should never be in the hall of Fame without purchasing a ticket. There is no dialog and there is not discourse; there is only invective.
I really cannot pinpoint when that sort of environment polluted the day when Hall of Fame voting results were announced but I think it goes back to the 1990s. If that is the case, then I am sad to observe that these polarized stances regarding baseball players and the insulting of anyone who might hold a view different from yours have transcended baseball. It now infects our social and political dialog in a similar fashion. If you and I disagree on some social or political issue, it is not de rigueur for us to engage in an adult-style conversation about why we hold those different views. Today’s norm is for each of us to declare that the other guy is a moron at best and danger to society and the stability of Western Civilization at worst. Such denunciations do not solve social/political problems any more than the baseball equivalent harangues change the roster of Hall of Fame inductees this year.
I am not alone in thinking this way about our current state of uncivil discourse. Here is a comment from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot recently:
“Blackout: If ever there were a sign of the times, it’s the decision by LifeTime Fitness to ban cable news from the TVs in its 128 gyms. The ‘negative and politically charged content’ goes against the company’s ‘healthy way of life’ philosophy. Agreed. Of all the ways of raising your blood pressure at the gym, dropping a dumbbell on your foot is better for you than listening to toxic political palaver.
Finally, let me get out of here today on a much lighter note. Here is a comment from Rock On, the column by Brad Rock, in the Deseret News:
“It’s been a year since the story of an Australian bank accidentally depositing $1.3 million in the account of a struggling student.
“The student reportedly spent all the money on cars, strippers and cocaine.
“So we now know it’s actually possible to become an NFL player overnight.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………