July 23rd, 2013

Today's slate.

The Big Hurst - Patrick Corbin

skoormit - Jose Fernandez?

La Osa Rosa - Chris Capuano

La Osa Rosa: I’ll pick Chris Capuano. If I was going with the lowest ERA plan, I would pick Carlos Torres with a 0.79 ERA. But that doesn’t seem that smart. That ERA is suspiciously low!
The Big Hurst:  With regard to Ryan Braun, I feel like there's a strange kind of intergenerational warfare afoot.  Major League Baseball has declared Braun the bad guy.  The mainstream sports media has declared Braun the bad guy.  Buster Olney with ESPN suggests it's a "closed circle" and everyone who matters is clearly on board with this view.  This is harmful, wrongful groupthink, and I disagree and dissent.
  As I said before, this prosecution by MLB feels suspicious and ginned up.  I'm not the only person who noticed that Braun was "red-flagged by the league."  It seems to me that Major League Baseball management was going to persecute and prosecute Braun to the ends of the earth - fair or unfair - until he agreed to some kind of suspension or punishment.  It's not a stretch to wonder whether MLB uses the equivalent of Star Chamber or Inquisition tactics.  The inquisitors say, "It's no big deal.  Just confess, and we'll stop the investigation, the slander, and the persecution.  Your life will go back to normal afterwards."  It's clear that powerful people are willing to do terrible things to others in the name of "lawful prosecution".
   I simply haven't seen any credible evidence against Braun.  Instead, I have every reason to believe that Major League Baseball coerced him into accepting punishment and becoming a scapegoat.  "It’s clear that Braun realized he couldn’t fight the case the commissioner’s office had built against him...."  Baseball "snagged one of its two big fish."  "Baseball got Braun on Monday, got him but good."  It's like the Wild West - they were always out to "get" him.
   I don't think Braun confessed, but the boot-licking, mainstream media has been happy to throw him under the bus with barely a second thought.  Why would you believe one side over the other?  Because it shouts louder and pays better?  This media coverage has been downright mean and maliciousJerry Crasnick with ESPN wrote that Braun's "credibililty is shot" and his "reputation has been tarnished", while insinuating that Braun is an "inherently bad person" or "a serial liar."  Ken Rosenthal for Fox Sports wrote, "Braun’s name is ruined.  His reputation is shattered.  He forever will be an object of scorn."  Gregg Doyel with CBS Sports branded him "a cheater and a liar."  Tom Verducci with Sports Illustrated wrote, "his reputation is shot."  Ron Borges with the Boston Herald labeled him, "a Most Vile Person."  This is all highly ironic, because this exact same media - you, yes you - once portrayed him as "a future face of baseball ... a telegenic and articulate slugger with fan and media appeal in abundance."
   I like baseball as a product on the field, but this kind of malicious, tangential shenanigan is tremendously alienating.  I can't be the only person who feels this way.  Even from a marketing and public relations standpoint, it seems like the world's stupidest strategy to put a scheme in place to smear and tear down baseball's biggest heroes and ambassadors.  It's pointedly self-destructive.  Major League Baseball and its sycophant media are trying to paint Braun as the bad guy, one of a few fall guys for the organization's own deficiencies and internal problems.  More and more, it feels like an intergenerational war, an attack by the the baseball establishment who thinks their own members and baseball heroes - the guys from 1950-1980 - are inherently superior to or better than the current generation of players.  This feels more and more like a misguided war against the players of my generation.  Attack our generation so yours looks better.
   Braun isn't the bad guy here.  I won't have it.  Do you know whose credibility is shot?  Do you know whose reputation has been tarnished?  Do you know whose name is lessened because of this?  The Commissioner's.  The owners and management of Major League Baseball.  People like ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and their weak-willed, lily-livered mouthpieces like Buster Olney, Jerry Crasnick, Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci.  These spineless yes-men crow that it's "a great day" for baseball.  No, it's not.  This whole conflict exposes all of you.  The big baseball establishment may pay your salaries, but I won't pretend I like you, believe you, or care what you have to say.  You're a bunch of kiss-ass jerks, and I won't stand for it.  This needs a backlash in the worst way.
   I wouldn't normally get upset about this.  It's just baseball, after all.  But sports offer an excellent mirror on the world.  Sport and culture follow each other in strange ways, and this kind of topsy-turvy and one-sided coverage is becoming all too regular.  Ryan Braun is not the bad guy in this situation.  The baseball owners, management, and establishment are the bad guys, even if they have all the money and all the power.  Didn't we all learn as kids that The Empire had all the money and power, too, but was evil?  Don't you feel dirty or evil if you're working on its behalf or doing its bidding?
   Even if Braun is also a jerk and guilty as hell of this precise offense, I literally don't care.  No justice has been done here.  It's a farce and a sideshow.  No one has ever proved to me that drugs augment baseball performance.  It's all a smear, and, curiously unlike accusing someone of being a Communist or homosexual, the people doing the smearing are immune from turning the tables.  No one could meaningfully accuse Bud Selig or Ken Rosenthal of using PEDs.  It's foolproof.  More importantly, there's every reason to think that chemical use is (and was) pervasive throughout baseball, even by players the media has decided are "clean".  Didn't pretty much everyone use greenies back in the day?  In that regard, it's a witch hunt.  It's more about who gets fingered or targeted than who is guilty.  It's become a popularity contest - and the sports media loves it because they get to decide the winners and losers.
   The circle isn't closed.  It's just that anyone inside baseball, and who relies on baseball for their livelihood, knows that MLB will enthusiastically retaliate against them if they dissent or break ranks.  I can talk because I'm tiny and outside.  Still, I disagree with the way this has been handled and I feel sorry for Ryan Braun.  I feel sorry if you're someone inside baseball that wants to publicly disagree, but knows that MLB will retaliate against you if you do.  I wish the players and the MLB Players Association would speak out, or this imbalanced and unfair system will keep picking players off one by one.  This is precisely the reason monopolies, like baseball, should be outlawed.


The Big Hurst: I think I may have over-written Jose Fernandez yesterday while I was writing about Braun.  If we're logged in at the same time, the program can't handle it.  Is that who you picked?
skoormit: Yes, I had Fernandez.


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