Friday, September 12, 2008

Hey Boz! Turn Off the ESPN Classic and Watch a Ball Game Will Ya?

Say what you want about Dukes, but the guy certainly draws attention. Nationals Journal gets over 120 comments for the first time since like May, every blogger weighs in, and now Tom Boswell, the Washington Post's 'Nationals columnist' gets out of the rocking chair to pen a column on the hometown nine--his second such article in two months.

The funny thing is that as rarely as Boswell writes about MLB and the Nationals, based on this, I think he watches even less.

(As the 200 or so souls who still visit here most days know, I've already weighed in ad nauseum about the Dukes faux-flap from Wednesday, that Dukes's behavior was indeed boorish and rude, but is being totally blown out of proportion by a media biased in favor of sensationalism. That's not what this post is about.)

Here's how Boz describes the early-innings developments Wednesday:
Dukes responded to his homer by showing up the Mets, blowing a kiss toward their dugout. Basic "disrespect" isn't a new concept. In his next at-bat, the Mets brushed him back, as any team since 1869 would and should. Many pitchers would have thrown at his head. The Mets didn't.
As Odalis Perez showed us after Chase Utley's Jack Tatum job on Jesus Flores, the retributive plunking is alive and well in MLB. But "many pitchers would have thrown at his head"?? Sorry, but maybe that was true of Bob Gibson 40 years ago. It probably hasn't been true that "most pitchers" would throw at someone's head for any reason since before WWII.

Boz continues:
One standard doesn't fit all sports. In the NBA, trash talk and anything short of throat-slash gestures is colorful, part of the game. Fine. But just try blowing a kiss to Bill Belichick after you catch a scoring pass against the Patriots or mocking an NHL team as you skate past its bench.

Terrell Owens can taunt a Redskins crowd to boo him louder and it's considered byplay. But, in baseball, players and fans are too close to one another for too many hours on too many days for players to think they can take on a city.
What game is he watching? On pretty much every single play all season there are antics on the field that far exceed a "blown kiss" in the NFL. Does he have any idea what NFL wide receivers do after catching a TD pass? (BTW--what's a "scoring pass?" Is that what Don Hutson used to get?) Blowing a kiss? Chad Ocho Cinco stages mock weddings! (BTW2, can someone please tell that guy that the Spanish words he's looking for are ochenta y cinco? But I digress.)

Ken Griffey Jr., hardly known as a show-boating jerk, did a throat-slash this very season, directed at broadcaster Jeff Brantley. It was such an outrage in MLB that it prompted a 124-word blurb in the next day's local paper.

Boz says baseball is different because the fans are closer. Really? Closer than the NBA? Hey Boz, you might remember seeing Jack Nicholson sitting courtside at Lakers games back in the 1980s. He's still there! Check out a game! Lots of games are on this new channel, TNT.

He concludes the column with this almost laughable fit of fuddy-duddy-ism:
But when he beats his chest after a walk-off walk, infuriating the pitcher, or glares at the home plate ump as his walk-off home run is still leaving the park, the Nationals' room grows darker.

The choice is clear. Soon, Dukes has to grow up. Not totally, but enough. Adults adapt. Elijah, you have to be the one to change, because the game, like the world, never will.
Um, Boz, have you ever seen Manny Ramirez admire a homer?
Have you ever seen Frankie Rodriguez celebrate a save? You may have flipped on the highlights of a Barry Bonds homer or two over the last few years. He tends to celebrate a bit, and I guess you could throw at him to retaliate, but since he's wearing more body armor than a marine in Afghanistan it's not going to do much. Do you have any idea what passes for acceptable celebrations following a walk-off in MLB these days? Chest-beating is pretty tame stuff these days.

You may not like it, but the game has changed. And it's gonna change more, my friend. Personally, I too could live without all this extra junk too, but it's all part of the culture now.

As for Dukes, you're wrong when you say he needs to stop "having nights such as Wednesday's when the combustible, immature traits that scarred his past, and made the Nats the only team that would touch him, come to the surface and make you fear for his future."

In today's game, he needs to stay out of jail. Period. If he starts doing this sort of thing more often he may wear out his welcome in DC and start churning through teams Jose Guillen / Milton Bradley-style. But he ain't going anywhere. Chicks dig the long ball, and he's got it. Unless he gets himself in some real, honest-to-goodness legal trouble, he's going to make a ton of money, and Bud Selig will keep his antics right where they are, drawing eyeballs to the park and columns from previously checked-out 'baseball writers.' Like it or not, old-timer.


Dave Nichols said...

what would Boz know about being toxic in the Nats clubhouse? this only the second time this summer he's written about the Nats.

it bothered me in Harlan's gamer how he pitted Zim's comments agaisnt what Milledge said. it's like Harlan was TRYING to create a rift.

with the constant undertones of subliminal racism permeating the media coverage of Dukes, it's no wonder the kid has an over-reaching and potentially dangerous sense of "prove them wrong" mentality. it's obviously what drives him on a daily basis, makes him the ballplayer that he is, but ultimately could drive him from the game and society.

stay classy Elijah. celebrate in the clubhouse. don't let your emotion motivate your opponent. let your immense talent do your chest-thumping and kiss blowing for you.

Hendo said...

It's far from clear to me that the Post is interested in being a credible baseball paper. (Or a credible anything paper, but let me not digress.)

But if it is, it needs a real baseball columnist. Either get Sheinin to up the frequency, or move Marc Fisher over, or turn the gamers over to an intern and let Harlan do it.

Anything besides what we've got now.

Steven said...

The racism hasn't been all that evident in the Post coverage--their bias has been more towards sensationalism.

But the St. Pete Times's coverage is really quite racist. Look at this article:

How did they decide that "dog" is spelled "dawg?"

Look at the picture of him, and that of his wife. She's supposedly a sweet little school teacher and he's basically a rottweiler.

If this is an article about a true death threat, how is it relevant to list the names of his kids and their mothers?

Why in their timeline "ten years of trouble" do they fluff up the list with crimes where Dukes is the *victim*, as if that's all his fault too?

Why is Dukes and his personal life worthy of a whole feature section of the newspaper to begin with??

The Times clearly made an editorial decision that it would help them sell papers to have a lot of headlines about "scary black man plays baseball! lock your doors!"

Will said...

"How did they decide that 'dog' is spelled 'dawg?'"

Well, as a sophomore in high school, I can say that most young people who refer to other people as "dog" or "dawg" spell it d-a-w-g when they write it. But that's just been my experience.

Steven said...

Welcome to the high school set.

It's good to see the St. Pete Times is so in touch with the youth voice. ;)

Will said...

Hey, wouldn't you want a newspaper to be up with the latest trends?

I was going to say "hip" but I thought maybe you were too old to understand that. ;)

Dave Nichols said...

by the way, good points about Scott Olson. where are the stories in the paper in every city he visits about being a miscreant and menace to society?

Steven said...


Here's the point re: "dawg." It's really unusual for any paper to use this kind of slang-y spelling, especially in a serious news story.

You also don't see serious papers spelling words to emphasize accents, like quoting George Bush as, "Al Qaeda better run. We're gon' git 'em," or Sarah Palin, "Ya know the difference between a hawk-ey mawm and a pitbull?"

But in this story they decided to use this alternative slang spelling for some reason. You're basically saying that they were trying to emphasize his youth. Perhaps. I tend to think they're trying to draw attention to his race and to associate him with hip hop culture.

Regardless, in a serious crime story, if you're going to include the content of the voice mail at all (and I don't think they should have), dog should have been spelled "dog."

PS We had "hip" in the 70s. And we had "dawg" in the 90s. Study hard, and maybe someday you'll have enough bling to get yourself some real pimpin' seats at Nationals Park. But come back to the blog any time. Your comment was off the heezy.

Will said...

Hey I was around in the '90s. Maybe I didn't take it all in, but I was there.

P.S. I've already got some ballin' seats.