Josh Hamilton, SBNation and the insincere business-based apology

MLB

How many crackheads just out of rehab do you see the Texas Rangers giving gainful employment? How many cocaine addicted street hookers pimped out by their drug dealers and offering quick services in Lower Manhattan are getting lucrative baseball jobs in an effort to save them? What are the job prospects of a known addict who can’t be trusted to carry cash?

It’s hard for people with these issues to get any kind of a job, let alone one that pays them as well as what Josh Hamilton is paid.

So let’s not act as if the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Rangers or anyone else who’s dealt with Hamilton on a professional basis was indulging in a philanthropic attempt to assist substance abusers. This isn’t a societal cleanup nor is it a selfless attempt to save a life. The Angels gave Hamilton that $125 million contract because they felt they could use his bat and he’d maintain his sobriety. They were wrong. The Rangers took him back for a pittance because they’re a reeling organization, saddled with terrible contracts, and declining fan attendance. Maybe Hamilton can help them with one or all of those problems.

There’s a reason why all of this is happening and it’s not human kindness. He was allowed to nearly toss his career away with drugs and given numerous other chances because of the same gifts that made him the first overall pick by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1999 draft. Whether the self-abuse has finally caught up to him physically is something that will be determined once he’s back on the field, an event that should be coming in the next several weeks. He’s getting chance after chance because he could once hit a baseball nine miles. If that wasn’t the case, his former employers might be willing to help him, but there would be a clear limit to how far they’d go.

While most people in baseball will say they hope for the best for Hamilton, there’s also an undercurrent of head shaking and “you did this to yourself” finger wagging. The political correctness that rules the day will preclude that from being clearly stated by the vast majority, but it’s there.

This leads directly into the deleted blog post by the Halos Heaven blog on SBNation. While the general reaction to the post was that it was heartless and cruel, it’s indicative of the declining level of discourse in our society, the lack of accountability, the fearlessness that comes from (probably) never having to face the people attacked on the internet, and the lack of training as a reporter and its consequences of everyone having a forum and playing “writer.”

The explanation – not an apology – that the author of the original post gave was illuminating as to what led to the post in the first place. It’s not meanness. It’s not a lack of caring. It’s a complete absence of accountability and focus on the self in opposition to providing intelligent foundation for discourse. It was an angry Angels fan who had undoubtedly said equally incendiary things about other subjects in the past but got away with it because there wasn’t the enraged backlash as there was to this last, blaze of glory act that ended up getting him tossed from the site.

Let’s not turn SBNation into a credible news organization. It’s a forum and a niche site with advertising, promotion and significant financial backing. That doesn’t make it credible. We’re not talking about a New York Times or Wall Street Journal editorial. It’s not even a Keith Olbermann Special Comment. It’s a schlock site with a vast proportion of fans who are expressing themselves. Sometimes that will come out as offensive.

There’s an arrogance that comes from public attention and the perception of success regardless of the quality of what’s presented. Those who find themselves getting paid for what these sites truly need – content and web hits – equate paid writing gigs with an ability to write; to analyze; to editorialize; to assess. In today’s world, there’s often not a connection between the two.

Had it not been so fresh an issue and no one paid attention to what was written, then there wouldn’t have been the uproar. They fired the writer. He claims they mutually parted ways. Their version of SBNation’s oversight was to reference the platform’s policies when it comes to content. The reason this happened is, as with most bloggers, there was no actual interaction between the writer and the subject.

Because this was dealt with in a way to assuage the masses who felt that the post was line-crossing, it doesn’t mean that there’s true regret.

Had the percentages been reversed and the public reaction to Hamilton’s relapse been 90 percent as disgusted with him as the Halos Heaven writer was and 10 percent calling for compassion, there would have been applause instead of public shaming and a loss of employment. That’s the reality. The person who ran Halos Heaven was bad for business and that’s why he’s gone. Not due to the Hamilton post. That’s simply a byproduct.

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On the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic, We Have the Marlins

All Star Game, Ballparks, Cy Young Award, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Hall Of Fame, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MLB Trade Deadline, MVP, Paul Lebowitz's 2012 Baseball Guide, Players, Playoffs, Politics, Prospects, Stats, World Series

The questions that surrounded the Marlins amid their winter spending spree and afterglow of the completion of their new ballpark were expected to crop up at some point, but no one could’ve predicted that they would start immediately, happen all in a row and risk the season before it began in earnest.

Let’s go down the list. Bear in mind that it’s only April 15th and they haven’t played 10 games yet.

  • The SEC is investigating the financing of the new park—you can read details of how it might go in this SBNation column.
  • Owner Jeffrey Loria was pilloried for using Muhammad Ali to take part in the first pitch ceremony on opening night.
  • Manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended by the team for statements praising Fidel Castro; protests calling for his firing continued regardless of Guillen’s apology.
  • Their on-field issues—a shaky bullpen and terrible defense—have already cost them games.

There are other underlying problems just below the surface. Carlos Zambrano isn’t looking any better on the field in Marlins’ fluorescent glow of blue, red, orange and yellow than he did in Cubbie blue. Josh Johnson and Heath Bell have been awful.

The concerns about Zambrano, Johnson and Bell are overreactions. The Marlins aren’t paying Zambrano anything and can release him if he pitches or behaves poorly—he’s a worthwhile gamble that had as much chance of succeeding as failing. Johnson, if healthy, should be fine. The same argument that says anyone can close also applies to proven closers who are struggling. Bell will begin converting saves.

But the team simply doesn’t look right. They’re not cohesive. They’re a glued together mix of personalities that may not gel before it’s too late, if at all.

Was the Castro gaffe the last thing that Guillen is going to say and do to get himself into a cauldron of simmering Ozzie-juice? History proves it’s not. And if he tones down his personality to prevent himself from getting into trouble, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of hiring him?

Did the Marlins not know that Edward Mujica was prone to the home run ball before installing him as the set-up man? He allowed 28 homers combined for the Padres in 2009 and 2010 and 7 for the Marlins last year. They have a pitchers’ park and leaguewide power numbers are down, but that hasn’t mattered with Mujica.

It takes awhile for teams that have been drastically altered to come together as a unit, but this was a powder keg before the season and it’s a powder keg now with sparks threatening to ignite before May. If they come together and get past the off-field controversies, will that repair their horrific defense and inconsistent bullpen?

In spite of assertions to the contrary, Jose Reyes is only one wrong step away from an extended stay on the disabled list with a hamstring strain or pull; Hanley Ramirez and Zambrano are tempestuous and flighty; and Loria and team president David Samson have high expectations and a massive amount riding on this team and new ballpark being a success.

If they’re at or under .500 by June (or sooner), the fans aren’t going to come to the park and the potential is there for a top-down eruption leading to an every man for himself evacuation.

It’s not a human tragedy on a level with the Titanic, but in a baseball-sense, it’s a burgeoning disaster.

It’s very early, but they’d better change course.

Soon.

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Viewer Mail 6.4.2011

Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Games, Management, Media, Players

Gabriel writes RE Buster Posey and Scott Cousins:

What people don’t really see is that Posey did not suffer a concussion nor a separated shoulder. He was injured because of the awkward position he assumed when trying to defend the plate. It’s a shame Buster is lost for the season, but people should not satanize Cousins because injury was not his goal.

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Pookah writes in response to Gabriel and RE Brian Sabean’s comments:

Gabriel, the injury could have been way worse. Unfortunately, it would take a way worse injury for the rule to be changed.

Though Sabs (as we call him) shouldn’t have said any of that, I don’t fault him. He lost his best position player. He spoke out of frustration. The Giants have already apologized on Sabs behalf (http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110603&content_id=19988894&vkey=news_sf&c_id=sf). Maybe he’ll get fined, but I’m sure he’ll think it was well worth it.

Posey was in a bad position because he moved in front of the plate to take the somewhat errant throw.

Cousins had no way calculating where Posey was and deciding in that small window that sliding around him was the best option. He chose to run him over and Posey got hurt. It was an accident of circumstance.

As for Sabean’s comments, you can’t defend them in any way. You can read Pookah’s link and then you can read this link from SBNation in which the Giants press release is “translated”—more accurately, I say.

Sabean’s absolutely going to get fined; he was going to get (or has already gotten) a stern talking to from baseball’s Godfather, Joe Torre; and he made himself look like a whiny fool.

The “home team” radio silliness as if Sabean’s comments weren’t going to be picked up by the national media and this “emotional time” garbage is stoking the fires.

Posey was hurt in a clean play. He wasn’t killed in a drive by shooting led by a rival gang with low-level soldier Cousins pulling the trigger.

Enough.

Jak writes RE the Brewers and deadline deals:

Sounds nice and all, but can you name any Brewers prospects that any team is interested in? You seem to have forgotten how much the Greinke trade emptied their whole farm system. Jose Reyes would make them unbeatable, but i will bet my life that Melvin cant pull that deal.

It’s a fair point.

But history has shown that you can’t say now what it’ll take to get a player from a dealing club. Situations and demands are fluid and change rapidly.

Reyes isn’t going anywhere unless there’s a lot coming back, but with Francisco Rodriguez or Carlos Beltran, the cost would be less; K-Rod especially could be had for a young, high-end prospect who needs to mature and simply taking on the rest of his contract.

Unbeatable is a strong word. The Mets have had Reyes for eight years and have proven to be eminently beatable.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE the MLB Draft:

HAHAHA! Who will be drafted number one!?!? THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME LIKE A NAIL GUN TO THE TEMPLE! Two words for Pirates fans: Brad Lincoln.

Our best bet is to wait to see what Keith Law says as he continuously alters his mock draft with a greater frequency than PECOTA tries to run from their picking the Twins to win 95 games.

I fought the Law and the Law won.

Let’s not fight the Law.

Patrick writes RE Reyes and the Mets:

Reyes won’t make or break the franchise, but it will make or break the next three to four years.

Look if his price tag becomes insanely overvalued a lunatic owner looking to make a splash, like the way Boston did with Crawford and Washington did with Werth, I can’t fault the Mets for being in a thanks but no thanks mode.

However when you look at the makeup of the Mets system, the pending free agent market for 2012 and 2013, the two most direct routes to roster improvement, there is not a lot there.

Most of the Mets options for improvement are going to need to come out trades and of non-tendered guys, wise looks at other teams systems ala taking shots at guys like Pridie and Turner and roll the dice some pan out.

The trades require a deep farm system which the Mets can’t boast currently. So is it wise to lose a core asset like Reyes if you really want to be competitive.

To get Reyes, it’s a safe bet that someone will go over-the-top in a similar fashion as the Red Sox and Nationals did with Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.

For the record, I’d like the Mets to keep Reyes unless someone offers the moon for him in a trade or his demands as a free agent are in the Crawford range ($140 million).

Teams turn around their fortunes relatively quickly even after perceived “franchise-wrecking” moves were completed. The Mets can’t let sentiment and the anger and rhetorical manipulations by fans/media influence them into doing something stupid; that’s how they got into this mess in the first place.

JR writes RE the Brewers and J.J. Hardy:

Do u think the Brewers go and try to get Hardy back?

I actually thought of that.

It’s not a terrible idea. A free agent at the end of the year, Hardy’s a far superior fielder and hitter than Yuniesky Betancourt, but his offense has collapsed since the All Star beginning to his career.

The Orioles won’t do anything now, but Hardy will be available and won’t cost much.

I could see it happening.

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Mean, Mean-Spiritied, Meaningless

Books, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

Rob Neyer posted the following on Twitter yesterday about Derek Jeter:

Just to be clear about this … the issue isn’t *where* Captain Groundout bats in the lineup, but that he’s in the lineup at all.

Then, after that bit of analysis, Neyer sort of receded off into the background (much like leaving ESPN to be the lead editor—or something—on SBNation) and doesn’t provide a solution to the Yankees non-existent issue at shortstop.

So, what’s Neyer’s suggestion?

That the Yankees bench Jeter after a month?

Then what? Are they supposed to move Alex Rodriguez to shortstop and play Eric Chavez at third base? How long is Chavez going to stay healthy if he’s asked to play regularly? Statistically—what Neyer bases his interpretation on—is Chavez trustworthy after his annual disabled list forays with the Athletics over the past four years?

Or perhaps he wants the Yankees to start a controversy that manager Joe Girardi, GM Brian Cashman and the entire organization would not be able to withstand especially with all the other issues the team currently has.

Does he want them to play Eduardo Nunez?

What would he like them to do?

There’s a meanness that emanates from some stat people like Neyer and Keith Law that’s off-putting; perhaps it’s from never having played the game of baseball; perhaps it’s a bitterness that comes from writing about an activity and longing so desperately to have their way seen as correct; or maybe they’re just obnoxious jerks.

But what’s the point of such short-sighted cruelty—without a solution—based on one month for a player who has been one of the best and most consistent players in baseball since 1996 and has played clean?

If Neyer came up with an answer of what to do with Jeter and backed it up with calm, cool reasoning—even if I disagreed with it (and I would; there’s nothing the Yankees can do with Jeter apart from letting him play and hoping this is a slump and not a Wile E. Coyote like plummet off the mountain)—then fine; instead, we get this nonsense.

In a posting about the Dodgers and Jonathan Broxton, Neyer said the following:

If Jonathan Broxton was a horse, they would shoot him.

This is totally unprofessional and unfunny in my opinion. I don’t go to that level and people consider me to be a raving lunatic.; Neyer worked for Bill James and was at ESPN for a long time, therefore he’s accorded credibility. In fact, when he left ESPN, it was treated as the biggest tragedy since the Hindenburg; you’d have thought he’d died.

It grated on me because I see through the laziness and agenda in which many of these so-called baseball experts wallow. I suspect ESPN is going to survive without Neyer’s five-line postings to advance whatever it is he believes, but we’ll see.

They’d shoot Broxton?

Captain Groundout?

It turns out that Broxton is hurt with an elbow problem; he should’ve said something before, but at least there’s a physical reason he’s slumping.

Regarding Jeter, isn’t the point of stat-based theory supposed to look at the player’s career history and come to a conclusion based on a bit more than 100 at bats?

Bench Derek Jeter? Really?

I would dearly love for these writers, bolstered by their perceived untouchability stemming from being on the internet (internet muscularity and courage) to have to confront the player against whom they utter this idiocy.

It wouldn’t happen, because then they might be held accountable for that which they say, write and tweet.

Besides that, the initial statements are meaningless because it’s MAY!!! Jeter still has time to rebound; the Yankees aren’t going to bench him despite the question of why he’s in the lineup to begin with.

It’s logical to ask the question of what’s 15 years compared to one month?

What are they supposed to do after benching him?

No answer is given to the throwaway line.

Because there isn’t one.

But I guess that doesn’t really matter, does it?

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