Thursday, January 10, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Stretch -- Willie McCovey, 75. The best hitter in the league just as I was starting to follow baseball, although I was definitely too young to appreciate it. Great, great, player, from an era in which the Giants really did produce more talent than they knew what to do with.

On to the good stuff:

1. No, I have no idea why Elliott Abrams is treated as a respected person. Ali Gharib catches Abrams behaving just like Elliott Abrams would behave (can't think of anything worse to call it).

2. A very nice piece on the GOP, the budget, and more, from Jonathan Chait.

3. Pew's piece on religious affiliation in the 113th Congress.

4. A big deal: JSTOR opens up a little.

5. "Mike Piazza" on the HOF vote.


  1. re the Peanuts series: Charlie Brown and Linus sit silent in severe depression for several frames until Charlie Brown leaps up and cries unto the heavens: "Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?" (Repeat for 2ft, 1 ft on subsequent days). That's after McCovey's line drive to Yankee 2nd baseman Bobby Richardson with 2 on/2 out ended the 1962 World Series.

    1. No, even though it happened before I was born and the Giants won in 2010 and, it really wasn't necessary for you to remind me of it.

  2. The Piazza case is interesting, because it neatly illustrates how vexing the anabolic steroid issue is for the Baseball HOF. If it were as simple as "some fans are opposed and some aren't", that might be easily solvable. Piazza shows how complicated the issue is.

    Complicated first because the sportswriters are supposed to be responsive to the interests of the fans, who are fiercely divided on PEDs. The sportswriters are also supposed to represent the interests of "The Game", but surely that means nothing more than what keeps the fans interested...arguably what the fans don't know (and isn't illegal) can't hurt them.

    Which is where Piazza comes in and gets tricky. According to Jeff Pearlman's expose of Clemens' use, Piazza too was a big-time user whose symptoms manifested in a shocking case of back acne. Don't see that every day on adults at the beach; probably a good thing. I assume there are no extant photos of Piazza's alleged back acne; also probably a good thing.

    There was a lot more to the Piazza story, allegedly, but like the back acne, it was stuff that Joe Average Baseball Fan didn't see. If the fans didn't see it, as caretakers of the game, weren't sportswriters obliged to hide it? OTOH, if Pearlman wrote about it, was it "seen", and something that needed to be investigated or discussed further?

    That's bad enough, but this conversation leaves out another crucial constituency: fellow players, fellow Hall of Famers. If Piazza was sportin' the shocking back acne, that would be hard to hide from his teammates, and given the connotation with steroid use, from the insider community. Indeed, Pearlman included several unattributed quotes from players who thought Piazza wasn't a particularly good hitter without the chemicals.

    None of which is to come down on either side of Piazza's candidacy. To market the Hall of Fame (or even just generally the sport) of baseball, you need the cooperation of the fans, the players, and the media that connects the two. As Piazza illustrates, the anabolic steroid era renders that system a giant clusterboink.


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