The Pot Calls The Water Black Again: On Shysterball and Cherry-picking
I've leveled a number of criticisms at Mr. Calcaterra, and yesterday he responded to ... well, not any of them, but he demonstrated a remarkable amount of hypocrisy in his reply:
Fifth -- I realize you can't stand me and I'm fine with that, mostly because the basis you cite for not standing me are comprised of the most egregious forms of cherry picking and overreaction. Hey, it's your blog, and when you comment on mine, it's your comment, so you can say what you want.
Now, let's recap my "cherry picking and overreaction."
I've criticized the Shyster for his practice of attempting to warrantlessly discredit Dave Zirin's writing, which he has done every time he has linked to Zirin. In "A Complete Lack of Evidence: The Surest Sign a Conspiracy is Afoot," Calcaterra compared Zirin to UFO conspiracy theorists for his article, "Boss's Boycott: The Bonds Vanishes." Zirin's central argument in the piece is that in the wake of Bonds surpassing Aaron's career HR record and the expiration of his contract with San Francisco, Bonds - despite still being a quite valuable player - appears to have been de facto boycotted en masse by MLB owners, and many significant reminders of his presence were quickly erased by the San Francisco Giants.
Calcaterra's response effectively only replies to this portion of Zirin's argument:
But it’s not just Magowan trying to “disappear” Barry Bonds. He has been blackballed in a blatant and illegal act of Major League collusion, a bosses’ boycott. Yes, Bonds’ fielding has become painful to watch in recent years, as the seven time gold glover limped around the outfield on knees grinding together without cartilage. But despite the agony of movement most of us take for granted, Bonds still hit 28 home runs in 340 at bats, led the NL in walks, and had an on base percentage of .480. Since 1950, only Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Norm Cash, and Bonds himself have recorded higher OBP’s. ...Calcaterra's response centers around his assertion that "Bonds can't play defense anymore. He really can't, which eliminates more than half of the teams in baseball as potential suitors." As a LF, Bonds was an all around +84 run player from 2005-7 according to Rally's numbers, being -10 runs defensively versus an average LF in 1812 innings, over 200 games worth. According to Fangraphs, he was also +84 runs from 2005-2007, including being -12.6 in bUZR. In 2008, Carlos Lee, Adam Dunn, and Manny Ramirez all played LF in the NL with considerably worse defensive numbers from 2005-2007. Calcaterra further dismisses the need for AL teams to upgrade at DH; AL designated hitters batted .256/.339/. .435 in 2008; the AL as a whole batted .268/.336/.420. Can't blame Texas for going with Milton Bradley, but any other team in the AL would have benefited on the field from signing Bonds, period.
Maybe Bonds can no longer roam the outfield, but there are at least a dozen AL teams that could use a designated hitter with a .480 OBP, not to mention a player whose every game would sell tickets and every at-bat would provoke baited breaths and empty bathrooms.
The rest of Calcaterra's argument hinges on interpreting Zirin's article as a claim that a 1980's style collusion memo was circulated warning teams not to sign Bonds. Calcaterra cites Bonds' status as a pariah and the fears of general managers that the ensuing controversy would cost them their jobs as the reasons why no such collusion exists. This is a gross misreading of Zirin, and demonstrates Calcaterra's resort to the perpetrator perspective. Calcaterra thinks if the intent to collude cannot be established, then there is no collusion, and anybody who uses the word is a wacko conspiracy theorist:
Bonds was unable to negotiate for a contract that would pay him his fair market value, and the reason appears to be that all of the major league teams chose not to offer him one. Calcaterra excuses their behavior precisely by pointing out that the GM's don't have guts (or that the GM's with guts are vetoed by ownership). That's exactly what collusion is - a group deciding to pursue a reality (Bonds shall not play for my team) collectively for business reasons that harm the customers. Calcaterra entirely neglects Zirin's discussion of the media's role in ensuring the owners can get away with it by fanning the flames, perhaps because that is the role that Calcaterra himself is playing.
There is a boatload of circumstantial evidence that Bonds took PED's, just as there is a boatload of circumstantial evidence that all sorts of other players still employed by the league. As a Dodgers fan, I was wronged by Ned Colletti giving $36m to Andruw Jones instead of signing Bonds. I do not care whether the source of the collusion was Bonds' status as a pariah derived from media coverage that has been outlandishly biased for at least the past decade. Bonds is a good baseball player, and if guilty, he is guilty of lesser crimes than Rafael Furcal and guilty of an equal crime to Guillermo Mota, who was actually caught as opposed to indicted in the public eye by a massive media investment in a take down that hinged on illegally leaked grand jury testimony.
If Calcaterra wants to nitpick and argue that Zirin's arguments do not necessarily warrant the terms "collusion" or "illegal," then I have no problem with that - let the discussion flow. Instead, Calcaterra made Zirin out to be a tin-hat fool. Zirin's point was this:
The idea that baseball owners would ruin their own team’s chances because they have collectively agreed to “turn the page” is a violation of Bonds’ rights and the unwritten social contract they have with fans. And when one considers the absence of saints on Major League Baseball teams, even on the God Squad in Colorado, it is all the more drenched in hypocrisy.
...The overriding ethos of the sports world is that of the meritocracy. If you are good enough, then you get to play. Yet a man who can get on base 48% of the time, has been told to go home and a new generation of fans will never see the Mozart of the batting cage. This is about more than a baseball player. It’s about people in power deciding on utterly unjust grounds, who gets to take the field, who gets to be heard, and even who gets to be remembered.
It is simply unjust that Bonds was denied the opportunity to continue his career, and cowardly GM's, his antagonism of a white-owned media full of blowhards, and assertions that he could not play the field do not constitute just reasons to end his career. The reasons Bonds was kept out are indistinct from the reasons black players were kept out of baseball in the segregation era. White owners and GM's were not willing to break the unwritten rule, and they were able to cite bogus claims that the players were simply not good enough to defend their actual position, which was that. The commisioner then, like the commisioner now, refused to step in to rectify the situation and instead added fuel to the fires of de facto collusion. Segregation did not begin to end until a team said it didn't give a damn about a player being treated as a pariah since it could gain a competitive edge - that's how the collusion to segregate baseball stopped. No such faux courage to act in the interests of the team could be found in the 2007-8 offseason, 2008 season, or 2008-9 offseason.
If you step outside the perpetrator perspective and consider reality from the perspective of those harmed by it, you open yourself to truth, instead of cherry picking excuses for the cowards in MLB who won't stand up to the media's stoking of racist flames. MLB kowtows to the media that kowtows to it because they collude - no conspiracy necessary - to profit off of the wrongful monopoly that was a 14th amendment violation to start with. Social contract to provide top-quality baseball - the very basis of the antitrust exemption - be damned.
A complete lack of intelligent consideration for other perspectives is the surest sign that no conspiracy need be afoot for people with great power to have their way at the expense of people with lesser power.
The second time Shysterball referenced Zirin, it was to laud Murray Chass (!!!), of all people, for adding perspective to the story of the MLBPA's statement that it found evidence of collusion against Bonds but was abiding by an agreement with the Commisioner's office regarding the timing of a filing. Yes, it is Chass, and not Zirin, who adds perspective to this story, by pointing out that the union generally does not wait to file complaints of collusion. Calcaterra writes, "This is all smoke right now. Let's see the fire." So if the Union alleges what Calcaterra perceives as a conspiracy, Calcaterra demands that it file its case before collecting further evidence. The point of a conspiracy, of course, being to suppress the evidence of its existence for as long as possible to evade culpability.
The third time Calcaterra referenced Zirin, he applauded his "takedown of the Bonds prosecution" to validate his own previous writings on the DOJ's case. I'm not sure whether I've made clear my disdain for Calcaterra's careerism, but this is certainly another example. He goes from making Zirin out to be a nut on this topic to citing him when it validates his own writing. He doesn't want "to feel alone," so he'll cherry-pick those authors that agree with him, even as he disagrees with them.
In the comments to that post, Calcaterra wrote "Zirin’s line about 'African American athlete' is a non-seequitor and is irrelevant to this analysis." He then proceeds to argue that Bonds should have been prosecuted, and that his arguments about the prosecution are premised on the idea that the prosecutors simply screwed up and didn't do a good job and went forward in an embarrassing and appalling fashion. The failure to connect these two strands of thought is what is truly embarrassing and appalling. The DOJ, embroiled as it has been in a myriad of scandals, did not have a hell of a lot to lose by going after Bonds with malice. The idea that the justice system does not have a long and continuous history of going after African-Americans with disregard to the 4th Amendment and with the political motivation to marginalize and disenfranchise African-Americans is laughable. For example, the manufactured myth of the crack baby - in part a historical product of the death of a prominent African-American athlete from powder cocaine - led to myriad practical suspensions of the 4th Amendment and a further explosion of the prison population, disproportionately imprisoning people of color and African-Americans in particular. The promulgation of this myth by a largely non-conspiratorial alignment of academic publishing bias, media absurdity and ratings pushes, policy driven by pandering to white voters, and the profiteering of the linked prison industry and the law enforcement and judiciary industries. The careerists inside these white-created and white-sustained industries all colluded to promote a myth of the social death of the black masses, generating enormous political and economic profits.
How, exactly, can we analyze the Bonds prosecution only in terms of the alleged failure of the prosecutors to carry it out successfully, especially from an outsider's perspective that has no access to the evidence the DOJ actually has at hand? How are we supposed to blame the prosecution for letting Bonds "ramble" in illegally leaked Grand Jury testimony, when the evidence that the DOJ had a stronger case to make and hence a stronger ability to corner Bonds and limit his responses is lacking? The whole purpose of Bonds' grand jury testimony was to entrap him; he refused to testify on 5th amendment grounds, and was forced to testify with the understanding he could only be prosecuted for perjury. Is it not realistic to assume that the DOJ let him ramble in hopes that he would perjure himself, knowing they didn't have the goods to make him perjure himself?
When people act in appalling and embarrassing fashion, we need to consider the sociogenic component of their actions. Prosecutors who are predisposed to see a Black man as a pariah - both through the specific media coverage of Bonds and through the general functioning of racist sociogeny in the white-dominated US media, political system, legal system, education system, and so forth - are likely to enact that sociogenic code with their actions. The failures of the DOJ - and IRS agent Novitzky's characterization of Bonds, rather than the ring leaders of BALCO, as their "Al Capone" - can be attributed to a heck of a lot more than their sloppiness. What motivates their sloppiness, and why did they pursue this player as opposed to the others who were alleged to take steroids? Why did they feel that their BALCO case rested on his testimony? Isn't a more likely reading that they were going after Bonds all along, given the "pariah" status that Calcaterra not only admits but bases his arguments upon? And how, in the white-dominated US with a centuries long history of making black people not just pariahs but the very embodiment of what it is to be a pariah, can we describe a reference to Bonds being an African-American as a non-sequitor?
There is no cherry-picking here. This is a serial failure on the part of Calcaterra to consider a highly salient issue. He does not devote his time to reading the relevant literature on race, the criminal justice system, and social death. Rather, he asserts that race is not an issue. My point all along is that his readers - and, specifically, the readers of a website like THT with a well-deserved reputation - deserve much, much better. This is precisely why Shysterball is inappropriate for THC - it has already taken the perspective of the legal system in analyzing the complex cultural, economic, and political elements of baseball. And the discussions of Bonds, which are certainly among the things that Calcaterra is most known for and that have driven his traffic time and again, have been deprived of reality and truth by his perspective.
Consider Edgardo Lander's critique of the Social Sciences and their origins in the colonial societies of the 19th and 20th centuries (from Nepantla, Views from the South, volume 1 no. 3, 2000, pp. 526-7):
The problem with Eurocentrism in the social sciences is not only that its fundamental categories were created for a particular time and place and later used in a more or less creative or rigid manner to study other realities. The problem lies in the colonial imaginary from which Western social sciences constructed its interpretation of the world. This imaginary has permeated the social sciences of the whole world, making a great part of the social knowledge of the peripheral world equally Eurocentric.7 In those disciplines, the experience of European societies is naturalized: Its economic organization—the capitalist market—is the “natural form of organizing production. It corresponds to an individual universal psychology” (Wallerstein 1996, 20). Its political organization—the modern European nation-state—is the “natural” form of political existence. The different peoples of the planet are organized according to a notion of progress: on one hand the more advanced, superior, modern societies; on the other, backward, traditional, nonmodern societies. In this sense, sociology, political theory, and economics have not been any less colonial or less liberal than anthropology or orientalism, disciplines where these assumptions have been more readily acknowledged. This is the basis of the cognitive and institutional network of development and of structural adjustment politics promoted by the Washington consensus.8The same problems are endemic in American legal discourse, and the Critical Race Theory movement has examined these in great detail and with remarkable patience in dealing with their critics. If we are to analyze how Barry Bonds has been prosecuted - much less treated in the media and by fans - it simply will not do to use the paradigms elaborated by white racists with the minor alteration of retroactively declaring these to be colorblind.
It is a colonial system of knowledge that expresses and legitimizes the modern colonial world-system. Europe’s dominating position in the world structure of colonialism established a monopoly of the locus of enunciation of “objective,” scientific knowledge about the modern world (Mignolo 1995, 329). It is a perspective with only one subject (white, European, with the exclusion of every other subject and every other form or style of knowledge). This leads to the naturalization of this power structure, which comes to be explained as resulting from hierarchical differences in race, culture, or other classifying systems, which always envision the modern West as the maximum expression of human development. Any difference between the cultural patterns of the hegemonic powers and the rest of the world is seen as the expression of the intrinsic inferiority of all others, or as hindrances to be supplanted (forcefully if necessary) through the European-led civilizing or modernizing process. This system of knowledge has proved to be long-lasting and has outlived colonialism as a foundation of today’s worldwide hegemonic structure of power (Quijano 2000).
It is not the same to assume that the historical patrimony of the social sciences is merely parochial as to conclude that it is also colonial. The implications are drastically different. If our social-science heritage were just parochial, knowledge related to Western societies would not need any questioning. It would be enough to expand the reach of the experiences and realities to be studied in other parts of the world. We could complete theories and methods of knowledge which thus far have been adequate for some determined places and times, but less adequate for others. The problem is a different one when we conclude that our knowledge has a colonial character and is based upon assumptions that imply and “naturalize” a systematic process of exclusion and subordination of people based on criteria of class, gender, race, ethnicity, and culture. This perspective introduces crude distortions not only in knowing others, but also in the self-understanding of European and northern societies. (Emphasis added.)
Instead of attempting to engage those who discuss the Bonds case in the context of racial or colonial dynamics, Shysterball merely asserts that they are wrong to raise these issues at the same time that he cherry picks those parts of their writing.
I read every Shysterball post from the time it began running at THT until May 13th. I did not begin reading it with the intent of smearing the author. I restrained myself from commenting on his "non-sequitor" non-sequitor in those comments, despite seeing it as obviously faulty, because I was decidedly not looking to pick a fight. Furthermore, I myself had had only a passing interest in the Bonds prosecution, and had not really gone out of my way to consider it in its full context. When a white writer, particularly one trained and employed by the legal system, starts asserting that things have nothing to do with race, however, I see a clear obligation to investigate.
When Calcaterra brought Zirin up for a fourth time in Zirin on Bonds and the DOJ, I thought it more than appropriate to remark on the non-sequitor he devoted one of his three paragraphs to:
I don't buy Zirin's frequently-repeated charge that the Bonds prosecution is a racial thing. That's mostly because I haven't seen a shred of evidence -- or a shred of convincing argument from Zirin or anyone else -- that race is, in fact, a factor as opposed to Bonds' sheer stature and his general unlikeability, neither of which are traits on which any one race has a monopoly.There is a severe lack of thought in Calcaterra's comment. Firstly, he attributes a "frequently-repeated charge" to Zirin on only the vaguest of terms without citing any examples. Zirin has never, so far as I can tell, written that the intent of the prosecutors was first and foremost to go after a prominent black man. Zirin's writing on the subject simply attempts to put the prosecution in its political and social context. In doing so, he's pointed out time and again that the context of the prosecution is enmeshed in a media that has gone after a player who is perceived in a manner that is markedly different in white and black communities. The idea that these subjects should only be broached and discussed if it can be demonstrated beyond doubt that race is "in fact a factor" is ridiculous. In the context of a justice system hell-bent on incarceration as a cure to social ills that locks up black people in severe disproportion to their percentage of the population, talking about the racial dynamics at play in a case that is being pursued almost entirely for publicity reasons is frankly essential. That the prosecutors have gone after an alleged individual user demands such consideration, in light of the shift in the 1980's toward an irrational and racially-motivated focus on "user accountability" in US drug policy. While the evidence that people of color use drugs in disproportion to white people in the US is non-existent, their colonial situation in this country makes them more vulnerable to police searches, prosecution, and incarceration. Is this the sort of thing that Calcaterra has not seen a shred of evidence for? If it is, then one wonders what sort of cave this lawyer lives in. Or whether he reads his own state's statistics.
Calcaterra does not specify what sort of "shred" could convince him that it is a "racial thing." He does not specify what he means by a "racial thing." He only pats the back of the white readers who want to rule out these questions from the discussion. In the context of the legal system and in the context of baseball and its media coverage, to rule out these discussions is to ignore wholesale the implications of the racist histories of their formations.
To stipulate that there is no racial monopoly on having Bonds' stature or "unlikeability" is to once again adopt the perpetrator perspective to distort one's view of reality. Indeed, Bonds' stature as perhaps the best baseball position player of all time can only realistically be shared by other African-American players - Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, or Rickey Henderson. According to Rally’s WAR figures, Barry Bonds had amassed more career value through 1999 than all but three players in the Retrosheet era, with 109 WAR. More than Mike Schmidt or Frank Robinson amassed in a career. Only Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Rickey Henderson had exceeded what Bonds had done through his first 14 seasons. The only white player of similar merit post-1947 was Mickey Mantle, and to conclude that the difference in regard for Mantle and Bonds stems from the likeability of the former is to be profoundly blind to racial dynamics in the US.
What makes a player unlikeable, in this case, is not his skill as a ballplayer but his demeanor toward a white-dominated (and, in terms of ownership of mass media, a white monopoly) media. How can one posit that race ought to be more or less ignored until The Smoking Gun court document that everyone was out to get Bonds because he was black? Simply by having a perspective cultivated by the coloniality of sociogeny, by miseducation. Calcaterra sees no need to rebut the analysis of those who raise the issue - he sees need only to assert that they are without a shred of evidence without stipulating what a shred of evidence would constitute. This is simply decadent thinking.
What has Zirin actually said about Bonds and the question of the "racial thing"?
I don't think that everyone against Bonds is a racist. I don't think every sportswriter who wants Bonds punished is a racist. And I certainly don't think anyone who believes in harsh penalties for steroid use is a racist. One can hate Barry Bonds and also spend Sundays singing "We Shall Overcome" with the Harlem Boys Choir before reading select passages from Go Tell it On The Mountain. But to argue that race has nothing to do with the saga of Barry Bonds is to practice ignorance frightening in its Rocker-ian grandiosity.Then consider the Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, that Zirin has called out. Mukasey thought it right to go after Bonds for allegedly perjuring himself in Grand Jury testimony that seemingly had the purpose of incriminating Bonds on perjury charges. Yet, when it comes to corruption in his own ranks - corruption to support the white-dominated GOP - here is what he had to say:
...There is no question that Bonds has spent his career treating the press the way a baby treats a diaper. But Bonds is not the first athlete to sneer at a reporter or two. In fact Mark McGwire was a notoriously surly personality who was presented to us like a grinning Paul Bunyon. It's not who you are, but who the media tells us you are. When it comes to Bonds, the press has called for everything but a big scarlet S on his chest, all of which has the appearance of a hellacious double standard. When a prominent ESPN talk show host says, "If [Bonds] did it, hang him", the perception is that this is little more than a railroad job of a prominent and outspoken African-American superstar on the precipice of Ruth and Aaron's records.
...Is this racially motivated? The question is too simplistic. The fact is that Bud Selig is deflecting criticism off the owners by putting the heat on the most prominent player in the game who happens to be Black. Whether this is conjured up in some back room or not is beside the point. MLB owners seem willing to sacrifice Bonds if it keeps Congress and the public off their backs. This is why some prominent baseball people are loudly speaking a word rarely said in the world of sports: race.
...Matt Lawton, who unlike Bonds has tested positive for steroids, said, "If (Bonds) were white, he'd be a poster boy in baseball, not an outcast."
...A couple years ago, Bonds said, "This is something we, as African American athletes, live with every day. I don't need a headline that says, 'Bonds says there's racism in the game of baseball.' We all know it. It's just that some people don't want to admit it. They're going to play dumb like they don't know what the hell is going on."
That is absolutely right. It's not defenders of Bonds who are putting race on the table, but whether you are a Bonds supporter or not, all anti-racists need to take it off.
Former Justice Department officials will not face prosecution for letting improper political considerations drive hirings of prosecutors, immigration judges and other career government lawyers, Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Tuesday.Here is what Hilary O. Shelton of the NAACP had to say about Mukasey's attempts to rile up opposition to fixing the racist crack-powder disparity in sentencing:
Mukasey used his sharpest words yet to criticize the senior leaders who took part in or failed to stop illegal hiring practices during the tenure of his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales.
But, he told delegates to the American Bar Association annual meeting, "not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime. In this instance, the two joint reports found only violations of the civil service laws."
Attorney General Mukasey’s characterization of people currently in prison for crack cocaine convictions, and of the impact that a potential reduction in their sentences could have on our communities, is not only inaccurate and disingenuous, but it is alarmist and plays on the worst fears and stereotypes many Americans had of crack cocaine users in the 1980s.What kind of person insists upon seeing some smoking gun showing that the government specifically wanted to target a black athlete? What kind of person shouts down those who try to explore the issue, all the while generating traffic for his blog by linking to it without substantive discussion - traffic that helped him land a gig with the media giants at NBC?
The treatment of Bonds has been riddled with double standards, but allusions to his race in a country with a continuous history of racial double standards are unwarranted? The treatment has hinged heavily on a white dominated sports media - as Norman Chad wrote,
We're whiter than Newt Gingrich's Fourth of July barbecue. ... [Four black editors] out of 305? That sounds like Gilbert Gottfried's hit rate at a singles bar.
... I've heard the arguments over the years -- "we can't find qualified minority candidates blah blah blah." Oh, really? Well I've read your sports pages and you're certainly finding unqualified non -minority candidates. So how hard is it to find unqualified minority candidates?
In his fifth reference to Zirin, Calcaterra links to a Zirin piece that had this as its central point:
From the juvenile to the pious, President Obama's press flack Robert Gibbs took time out from explaining why torturers are above the law to tell us, "It's a tragedy, it's a shame." There is a tragedy and a shame afoot, but it is not rooted in the choices of one player. It's in a baseball culture that continues to think embarrassing individual players and feeding on the resentment of fans is the best path to cleaning up the sport. Manny has now joined Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and many others as permanently stained with a scarlet S. No Hall of Fame, no old timers' games and a life as a cautionary tale.I would gladly compare this reasonable approach to Calcaterra's rush piece saying the Ramirez suspension was good for the game, if only it hadn't apparently been scrubbed from the web.
Meanwhile we all get taken to the cleaners. We have billionaire owners making scapegoats of millionaire players to soothe our anxieties about the game and our lives. Meanwhile these same owners sit like pashas in a baseball palace that could be called the House That Steroids Built.
...As baseball writer Adrian Burgos (Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line) said, "What continues to fascinate me is how MLB leadership is willing to allow individual players to take the full brunt of the collective failure of leadership. Today, pundits have ranted in at times rabid tones about the players who make millions for their role while those who make the hundred of millions (and even have billion- dollar stadiums constructed for them on the public dole) continue to profit. How many stadiums have been built since then and at what cost? All the wealth that has been accumulated at that level is in my mind just as, if not more, offensive, since the owners act as if they were not enablers and co-dependents as their players shot up, ingested and otherwise partook in performance-enhancing drugs."
Calcaterra's blog post linking to this piece read:
I'm not a big fan of Dave Zirin -- I think he's going on his 50th straight column in which race, class, Bush and Nixon are prominently mentioned, and that's overkill even for me -- but you can't say the guy isn't passionate about his subjects.Since Zirin was not, in fact, even remotely close to 50 straight columns that mentions these topics (let alone prominently), one wonders why Calcaterra would say it was "overkill even for me" - even for you, Craig? You show next to no tolerance for columns on these subjects; it seems strange that you would imply that it was only their repetition ad nauseam (though not the actual case) that raised your ire. One wonders why Calcaterra attempts to paint Zirin as some sort of anti-GOP partisan for a column in which he goes after Robert Gibbs and the Obama administration. And one wonders what Calcaterra means by saying that "race, class, Bush and Nixon are prominently mentioned" when the column does not use the words race or class.
Calcaterra could have simply taken issue with Zirin's statement that, "The sports radio and comment boards have been cesspools of racism. It's always easy to hate, especially someone who plays a game for a living and makes millions of dollars." It is fair to argue that Zirin did not flesh out what was meant by this statement, and I'm not particularly interested in going through the hundreds of thousands of message board comments that had been made about the suspension when Zirin wrote the piece. However, of the ones I have reviewed, Ramirez has been regularly described as "stupid," "dumb," "idiot," and "scumbag." It was repeated ad nauseam in these boards that Ramirez had tested positive for steroids, which he had not. Perhaps from Craig's vantage point it is easy to see these comments as above the ground and having nothing to do with racist perceptions of Ramirez. I would respectfully disagree with such a perspective.
Zirin does discuss "class" in the context of players vs. owners vs. fans. I'm not clear on why anyone would omit such a discussion, especially since the owners have yet to state authoritatively why Ramirez was suspended and could count on the over-reaction of fans who chose to "hate" without all the facts.
Zirin references Bush and Nixon in his second-to-last paragraph:
We should always remember that former Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush made steroid persecution a recurring theme of his time in office, as long as owners were spared the spotlight. The hypocrisy should shame owners toward contrition--but they will happily crack some golden eggs, as long as it means that the goose that laid them lives. Even though come contract time, it's all about the numbers on your stat page, and not the number of clean tests. As baseball fan and poet Martin Espada told me, "Baseball is the Main Street of sports. (Think Cooperstown.) It's full of history and nostalgia, and paved with the bricks of hypocrisy. Now it's the rhetoric of the 'Drug War,' handed down from the Nixon White House forty years ago to MLB and ESPN today."Exactly why should the continuity of drug war rhetoric from the COINTELPro Nixon administration to former MLB owner Bush's administration be ignored in making the point that it is the steroid policy itself that is the problem, and not the players suspended under it? Are we to ignore that Nixon's southern strategy, taken up by Reagan and the Bushes, was an appeal to white voters that demonized and disenfranchised black people in order to retain political power? Are we to ignore that the owners have profited from player PED use while pursuing a remedy to it that punishes players alone? Are we to ignore that the GOP's political strategy of cutting the government programs that emerged out of black struggle in the 1960's and criminalizing a gigantic portion of the population with drug laws that have racially skewed enforcement and prosecution amounts to a divestment in black communities and an investment in white profiteers? Are we to ignore that MLB may have an interest in taking down the "problem players" in the eyes of many in management and the media, and are we to ignore that MLB may have gotten away with writing a policy that will forever taint these players without evidence of PED use? If the powerful people in MLB can suspend a player for being prescribed a banned substance - without evidently taking that substance, and without clear evidence that it was taken to mask PED's or to counteract PED side effects - why should we not consider that such a policy is stupid and unduly influenced by the politics and symbolism of a racist drug war?
Perhaps it would be cherry-picking of me to only discuss Calcaterra's blind spot for Zirin. But I have seen no Calcaterra posts that intelligently addressed the points that Zirin raises. Where are the Shysterball posts that critically analyze the idea behind the steroid policies, as opposed to the technical points of their enforcement in a lay-ified legalese? As tacitly acknowledged, Calcaterra has never linked to dwil.
I have also "cherry-picked" Calcaterra's misreading of Milton Bradley's comments and biased reading of the pitch f/x article. Calcaterra responded to none of my arguments. Allow me to restate: Calcaterra warrantlessly characterized Bradley as a person addicted to proclaiming his own victimization; he suggested that pitch f/x could be used to prove that Bradley had not been victimized by umpires thus far this season. The comments that Bradley made, however, did not state that he attributed his relative lack of success in the 100 or so PA to date to unfair umpires. He was blunt about acknowledging that umpires could indeed "try to ruin Milton Bradley," although he was of course prompted to speak on the subject. Allen's piece did not investigate what Bradley said in terms of the pitch f/x data, but rather what Calcaterra said. Allen did not look at which calls came with 2 strikes, the specific statement Bradley had made. Nor did Allen look at the location of pitches that Bradley had put in play, which is a major red flag because Allen concluded by blaming Bradley's poor numbers on hitting too many groundballs and not enough line drives. If umpires are causing him to chase pitches he would otherwise lay off, then this is an obvious thing to investigate. Further, Allen fit his analysis into Craig's hypothesis by claiming that Bradley's strike zone overall had not increased in size. Such a claim is highly problematic because it rests on the assumption that there is a significance to the top of Bradley's zone shrinking. The basis for believing his zone had shrunk in this manner, looking at the graphs, are TWO individual pitches that were in the high and away portion of the zone. The context and type of pitches are not examined; rather, the lack of pitches in that area of the strike zone lead Allen to conclude the zone had not expanded. The number of low pitches outside the strike zone called strikes on Bradley outnumber these two pitches considerably, and in realistic terms a couple of favorable called balls up in the zone do nothing to compensate Bradley for having more called strikes low and away; the umpires did not inform Bradley that his strike zone had simply moved. Dissenting commenters at both Baseball Analysts and Hardball Times were ignored by Allen and Calcaterra, respectively. To recap: the hypothesis tested was mostly unrelated to Bradley's comments, and the vetting of the evidence centered around the faulty spatial reasoning of Allen's regression, ignoring common sense interpretations of the data at hand.
Further, I've taken exception to one of Craig's favorite recurring themes, Chief Wahoo. Craig's position is that Chief Wahoo is racist and that he should therefore slide slowly into obsolescence and erasure. I find such a position offensive. What is the point in asserting that Chief Wahoo is a racist caricature, without broadening the discussion? Calcaterra gets to take the high ground without engaging the implications. The significance of Wahoo should be crystal clear - the majority white fans and supermajority white owners of MLB are ok with supporting MLB even as it continues to lean on and glorify its racist past. This is a broad cultural indictment. Why are we, as baseball fans, still supporting the MLB monopoly, even if its roots are in segregation and those roots contribute to a setup today where a small group of very wealthy white men make money off of simply owning the teams? Why should it suffice to relegate this racist history to a column 20 years from now on those wacky old-timey uniforms? Why don't we acknowledge that baseball is still largely determined by its racial/colonial context?
The troubling implications of Chief Wahoo need to be discussed, not ignored in the search for a logo that can be deemed inoffensive. To suggest that the place for symbols of racism is the dustbin of history is to deprive present and future generations of agency and cultural memory; why are discussions of the symbolic functioning of racism relegated to films like Ethnic Notions that are unwatched by the vast majority of white people? My point is not that I am calling for the Indians to leave Chief Wahoo in place so we all have an ever-present reminder of its racism. My point is that independent sources of baseball analysis need to push further, need to consider these questions in a deeper and broader context, and need to issue demands for action beyond "Hey guys, I know this is controversial, so try to keep phasing it out."
I think a better historical memory is imperative for cultural growth and the overcoming of racist ideologies. Calcaterra - who treats the Mennonites stripped of their land by the railroad industry as the tricksters, rather than the railroad industry that pledged to return the land - seems to have this as a significant weakness.
As alluded to above, I also think it is questionable for Craig to use his THT blog as a platform to link daily to his pieces for NBC. I would not object to Craig doing this on his old blogspot page. There is no precedent at THT for a writer to use his THT gig to get a major media gig and continue to use THT to generate traffic for his gig with the major. That the writer in question makes the sort of questionable statements I have discussed above without responding substantively and adequately to criticisms, something I have long considered a hallmark of THT, compounds this dynamic considerably. I've loved THT and its community since it began, and it is their decision to give Craig this forum that has made me step away and take a self-imposed sabbatical from the site that I had read compulsively since its inception.
Now that I have gone through the egregious cherry-picking and overreaction that Craig has accused me of, let us return to Craig's comment to the previous post:
But please don't claim the mantle of objectivity for yourself or those you admire.Before continuing, let's pause on this request. I have not raised any mantle of objectivity. Objectivity is not a characteristic of human being. I do not claim to be more objective than anyone else. Objectivity is a standard for study, evidence, and criticism. Frankly, my original intent was to write a very long and very restrained evidence on the problems with Shysterball's approach, something I have been considering for months. I continued to put off the writing of such a piece because, without doubt, Craig's arrogance in responding to me on his site has angered me. Whether he perceives me as arrogant or angering is a fair question, as well. I did not want to write from a place of anger.
That changed on May 31 when I began my Sunday morning with an old ritual, checking out Rich's Weekend Baseball Beat. (OK, Rich's site is called Baseball Analysts and updated primarily during the week, but for whatever reason, I still just read the past week of posts on the weekends for the most part.) I simply could not believe how faulty was the logic in Allen's post, and I was enraged that such an ill-conceived and poorly executed study was done to test a hypothesis by Craig that was a fundamental misreading of statements by one of my favorite players. I chose to write from that anger. I chose to write from my perspective. I chose to turn off the damned filter. Whether Craig is too much of a self-proclaimed "pitch f/x moron" to understand my criticism, my points were quite valid. Objectivity had flown out the window in Craig's Bradley cycle. Or rather, objectivity had been redefined so as to not reflect the real world: the spatial correlation argument stood in place of actual analysis of the expansion of the strike zone, and the validity of Bradley's comments was made to hinge on whether his lackluster early season numbers were exclusively the result of umpires' calls, a claim he never approached making.
Objectives are used to evaluate evidence. They are used to determine how to collect evidence. Objectives are themselves all socially produced, and as such cannot represent eternal standards for knowledge but rather contextual demands for rigor. Craig and I are equally objective as human beings. I find his criticisms to lack objectivity for the reasons described above; he finds mind to be lacking in objectivity for... well, in this case, not repeating comments and criticisms that were made on dwil's blog that I saw no need to comment upon because they did not diminish his argument. We will return to this point below.
My site here began because I decided I wanted to return to baseball writing without indulging in publicity . I told about 10 writers that knew me and that I respected about it; I specified from the start that it was recreational. A few of them have linked to me (including Studes at Craig's own site earlier this year), and a couple put me on their sidebars though I stated I was uninterested in that. My brief experience with a foray into the semi-commercial baseball writing world led me to want nothing to do with it. I am not interested in a career as a baseball writer, part time or otherwise, though last year while my father was dying and I had quit my job out of exhaustion, I considered doing it again for a while.
As such, this blog has been written under a pen name - one that makes it quite easy to discover my actual name, but one that I prefer because baseball writing is a minor part of my life and is something that I would like to do in the context of my fandom and not something I would like to have stand as a summation of my intellectual interests. This blog has also never had any sort of traffic meter; if someone links to me or reads me I only know if I happen to see the link or if the reader leaves a comment. This blog has been written with only cursory editing, and no post on it has been anything but impulsive, including this one.
Throughout the history of the blog, I have been content to write my reactions and my oppositions. I have been uninterested in conforming the blogs to any conventions designed to garner more readers. I have taken aim at the decadence and low standards at Baseball Prospectus, and, for a brief time, Fangraphs (Fangraphs in the months following upped its efforts considerably and addressed my criticisms, and I have since used this blog to laud them as the best baseball site around.), but above all else, I have taken aim at Ned Colletti. I have not seen my job to be to report on everything they do but rather to voice my opposition as situations arose.
After writing the Bradley post, I realized that there was no reason to wait out my anger and write something white washed to appeal to as many people as I could. I have no delusions of grandeur. I told myself to just write my reactions. When I read that dwil piece, knowing that Calcaterra had never linked to him, I figured it appropriate to raise the issue on this blog and put it in the context of what I think baseball blogs can do and where I think they should be headed.
Use objectivity to consider what I wrote. Do not castigate me for failing to meet your arbitrary standards for what constitutes objectivity. My previous post was about the need to consider radically different perspectives; that is an important objective, and I thought it only fitting to be upfront, to write with a tone that would indicate that I was attempting to offer a radically different perspective.
Continuing with Craig's comment:
Contrary to your assumption, I did read Dwil's piece.Fine. You certainly can't fault me for doubting you would read it, considering you've never linked to him or mentioned him before. And it's not clear whether you read it independently or in response to me writing about it; if you only read dwil because I prompt you to, that's some evidence that I have a point, no?
And while I agree with him wholeheartedly about Greenberg being an idiot for what he said (and I'd argue on general principles too, but that's another topic) Dwill is dead wrong to take Greenberg's statement about a "special wing" for Negro League players at face value. There is no "special wing." Indeed, in a special bit of poetic justice, Satchel Paige's plaque is right next to Tom Yawkey's -- the man who worked his ass off to keep the Red Sox white -- in the room which honors inductees.There are an awful lot of assumptions that Craig makes here that he does not come close to examining. It should go without saying that Craig here is guilty of cherry-picking in response to a fairly long piece of criticism. Instead of responding to the substance of dwil's post, he calls dwil out for not investigating whether such a wing existed as Greenberg had stipulated. Dwil "isn't interested" in following up on the claim of one of the most heard sports broadcasters in the country, a claim that neither his cohost nor whatever fact checkers ESPN employs for the show disputed - agreed; he's interested in discussing what Greenberg's logic means.
Even inductees who, unlike Paige, spent their entire careers in the Negro Leagues are honored along with everyone else. There is no asterisk. There is no qualification. While their inductions may have been, as a general matter and in the first instance, inspired by some white guilt rather than a genuine appreciation of their skills, the Hall of Fame and many, many baseball scholars have worked very hard to assess, evaluate and honor their on-the-field accomplishments as accurately as possible. There people who have full time jobs combing old news reports, compiling stats databases, and doing hard work to make sure that the men who played in the Negro Leagues are given the same due as those who were allowed to play in the majors.
But Dwil isn't interested in that. He's more interested in jumping at an easy, erroneous target (Greenberg's ridiculous "wing") and using it to beat a drum I'm guessing he's beaten before. And it may very well be worth beating. But I would hope that someone who, like you demands such exacting standards of accuracy from guys with whom you disagree likewise demand it from guys with whom you agree.
Dwill tars the Hall of Fame baed on a lie that is conevenient to his politics. Is that not a problem for you?
Why does Craig assume I linked to the article without knowledge that dwil had jumped the gun in taking Greenberg at his word? The fact that no such wing exists was mentioned in the comments on his post hours before I read it. I was well aware that no such physical wing to display Negro League plaques existed. Why was it my responsibility to level this criticism at dwil when it was already in the comments on his post - comments to which dwil responded at length? Perhaps you see the claim the the HOF is racist as another drum to bang, but using such a wing as evidence of the hall's racism was quite clearly not the point of his post. The point is quite clear:
Now, I have railed against racism in the media since the beginning of Sports On My Mind. And really, I am sick of doing it. Just as I am sick of pointing out the effects of gambling on sports and how easy it is to fix games, and how various people in a and around sports have, over the decades, intimated that many games are, in fact, fixed.Note the massive difference between dwil's point about Greenberg and Calcaterra's restatement of it that Greenberg is being an idiot. Calcaterra's version completely ignores dwil's arguments about Greenberg and instead makes things into a question of intelligence instead of participation in "the Western tradition of racism." Dwil criticizes Greenberg's racist logic - and all Craig wants to talk about is Greenberg's factual inaccuracy.
But with racism, the matter obviously transcends anything else in sports because it is a reflection of the United States, just as it is a reflection of Western culture.
Why is racism so damn important?
Racism is one of the foundational aspects of Western culture. Racism is the “automatic” every person in the world must deal with each day. Either you are a beneficiary of racism or you are a victim of it. Either you fight against racism or you are a progenitor of the foundational aspects of racism. Every day of your life. No questions asked, no way around it.
And by dismissing racism in baseball’s Hall of Fame, Greenberg is a progenitor of the Western tradition of racism.
The statement Craig likely most objects to is this: "So why is there a special wing for the victims of racism in baseball? Because baseball, like the rest of our society, like Greenberg specifically, is inherently racist." The point clearly still stands as an argument about the racist logic employed. Calcaterra prefers to call Greenberg an idiot, as if that somehow does anything constructive to deal with the permeation of racist logic.
Reread the post. Dwil's point was clearly not that the baseball Hall of Fame was racist because of the new development that it has a special wing. He asserts that such a special wing would be evidence of the HoF's racism, but as even Calcaterra quasi-admits Dwil has argued that the hall is racist for a long time, and not because of the physical layout of the plaques. Calcaterra is much more interested in criticizing dwil for not honoring the works of the Negro League historians (and more interested in implying things like that dwil thinks there are asterisks on the Negro League plaques) than in taking the argument and, most importantly, dwil's perspective seriously. I fail to see how I could prove my argument better than Calcaterra ignoring the substance of both my points and dwil's points to criticize both of us for not noting Greenberg's factual inaccuracy. My previous post was a call for all of us to take seriously the liminal perspectives on baseball; Calcaterra responds by arguing, in essence, that they are not worth taking seriously because at times they don't check all the facts.
Calcaterra's limited perspective allows him to refer to the fact that Paige's plaque is next to Yawkey's as some sort of validation that the Hall is not racist. From my perspective, I am absolutely flummoxed as to how a Hall of Fame that celebrates Yawkey can evade the charge of racism. Yawkey was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1980 with a considerable legacy of racism that long outlasted the integration of some players into the NL and then AL, and people today are arguing about whether PED users are too tainted to belong in the Hall?
Paul Molitor is in and Tim Raines is out. Yawkey, Kuhn, and Landis are in; Marvin Miller, Buck O'Neill and Curt Flood are out.
There is no special wing in the physical building. But there are 35 Negro Leaguers represented, whereas 38 players were elected to the hall in the first 11 years of its existence (i.e., pre-1947). Though I haven't gone through to get the exact count, the number of veteran's committee selections from the segregated era appears to trump the number of selections from the Negro League committees.
I don't understand why any discussion of dwil's post should turn on whether he took Greenberg at his word. The plaques of Negro League players all say Negro Leagues at the top, and most of them say Negro Leagues in the text. None of the plaques for players from the segregated "Major Leagues" identify them as players in White or Whites-only leagues, nor do any of them refer to this advantage (correct me if I'm wrong, I have not looked at all of them). Sure, there is no asterisk - they leave that for the Ecko ball. The idea that Tom Yawkey's plaque should be in the same room as Satchel Paige's is laughable; is it really your contention that a body that treats these figures as evil should be presumed non-racist?
Dwil did not tar the HOF with Greenberg's accusation. His position, and mine, on whether the HoF is tainted by racism was unchanged. As such, no, I am not bothered, especially since this oversight was acknowledged before I posted my piece. His arguments, however, were simply ignored by Craig. That is an oversight of much greater significance as far as I am concerned.
A day after commenting on my blog (a comment I saw for the first time early this morning), Craig (nearly?) declared me his enemy on his blog.
It just kind of goes on and on like that, as does his previous post, albeit with far more colorful language. Obsessive ShysterBall readers will also recall that the blog's author, Fifth Outfielder, has shown up in the comments to take me to task for being a tool of the racist establishment from time to time. More recently he has disappeared altogether, apparently boycotting the blog. I suppose it goes with with territory. If anything, I'm actually surprised that I don't have more people angry at me.Sorry that I don't aspire to your pithiness. I didn't just boycott the blog, I boycotted THT (where I was a subscriber to the Batted Ball Reports), and informed Craig as such in an email with my actual name. The boycott was not to cloister myself off. The idea that I was seeking to evade dialogue is confusing, since it was Craig himself who suggested, at the conclusion of our last exchange, that I should not seek dialogue with him:
Know, however, that ultimately we’re disagreeing on tone and approach, and I doubt seriously that any number of words we throw back and forth at each other is going to convince us that the other is right on this.The other comments on his blog certainly gave me the impression that my comments were unwelcome, with one saying "Hopefully somebody takes the time to read this dissertation above and make snarky comments about it." For Craig to turn around and act as if he played no part in alienating me from his comment sections is disingenuous.
His "it just kind goes on and on like that" comment is itself quite misleading, as only the first part of my post was focused on my dislike for his blog. He responds to none of the substantive points I made about his site and gives the readers the impression I wrote one long hit piece about him, when I had rather made a fairly broad call for a new approach to writing about the intersection of baseball, politics, law, and culture. Shysterball was a jumping off point, but Craig would only portray my post as vitriol.
But just because someone hates you doesn't mean you have to hate them back. Batman once tried to redeem the Joker, and Luke did the same for Vader (the Smurfs, on the other hand, never showed an ounce of empathy for Gargamel because they're callous, hateful little beasts). And to be clear: I have no ill feelings towards Fifth Outfielder. He's obviously smart and committed to what he believes in, and I respect that, even if one of the things he believes is that I have my head in the sand about racism in baseball and America at large.Let's be clear. I hate certain elements of your blog, not you. It does get a bit personal in that it would be fair to say I hate lawyers who work for governments with substantively racist policies who spend their free time denying that racism is a relevant issue in discussions of law. I did not start reading Shysterball with anything but the intention to enjoy it; I figured it would be quite good since I love THT and Dave does an excellent job of finding writers. As it turned out, the blog made a continually worse impression on me as I read it daily at work. When I raised the issue that Bonds' prosecution could fairly be seen as a "racial thing" and that Craig's unstated standards of evidence effectively precluded Zirin's perspective (as well as my responses to the Chief Wahoo post), Craig did not respond with a thirst for dialogue but rather a thirst to justify what he had already written. My previous opinion that the blog was ok but had some issues began to sour after these exchanges. After the exchange on the Manny/Zirin post, I felt it was time to move on. I felt I needed to boycott THT to stay true to my personal code of ethics, knowing that this was a tough decision. The only THT posts I have accessed since have been Craig's when I have been writing about him. I don't hate him. I think his blog and prominence (has anyone been linked to more by Neyer since Calcaterra was invited to THT?) are detrimental in that he covers topics where race is highly salient while denying that it should be discussed. As such, I see a responsibility to respond, and when the climate will not take these responses, I see pragmatic reasons to move my comments to another location.
I'm not quite sure what the sand comment was about, but I certainly do not excuse my consciousness from having been sociogenically produced by US racism. The point of my previous post is that all of us in the US (and most of us on Earth) have had our consciousnesses sociogenically produced by coloniality. Sociogeny is the term coined by Frantz Fanon in his seminal Black Skin White Masks, where he argues for a new humanism that requires a new decolonized understanding of human being. His point is not merely that racists are taught to be racists but moreso that coloniality is strong enough to sociogenically produce a myriad of subjectivities that are all rooted in coloniality's misanthropic skepticism. Fanon's work has been elaborated upon at length by numerous scholars and organic intellectuals; excellent studies expanding on his work include Hussein Abdilahi Bulhan, Frantz Fanon And The Psychology Of Oppression, (1985); Lewis R. Gordon, Fanon and the Crisis of European Man: An Essay on Philosophy and the Human Sciences (1995), and Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Against War: Views from the Underside of Modernity (2008). Carter G. Woodson's The Miseducation of the Negro is an earlier work that elaborates many of Fanon's theme in the US context. Sylvia Wynter has drawn from Fanon and Woodson to produce a large body of outstanding and provocative scholarship that takes these themes to elaborate perhaps the most rigorous and thoroughgoing transdisciplinary model for a human sciences ever conceived. The linked wikipedia page has a nearly complete bibliography of her writings; a strong introduction by Karen Gagne can be found online.
Craig and I both have consciousnesses awash in the sands. I cannot speak to his biography in any length, knowing only snippets from his blog. As for me, my experiences living in the country, in the city, in almost entirely white communities and white minority communities, and being a product of the scholarship class has led me to always seek out new perspectives on racism. Here is an excerpt from Prof. Wynter's essay in Not Only the Master's Tools edited by Gordon & Gordon that elaborates the necessity of considering radically different perspectives:
Here Ricoeur's parallely redefined concept of "utopia" in terms of its dialectic functioning with "ideology" identifies it as being, in all human orders, the liminal site or perspective that must be systemically excluded from the normal functioning of each specific order, as the condition of that order's stable production and reproduction. As such, therefore, the only perspective that carries within it the possibility of an escape from the prescriptive categories of each order's "general horizon of understanding" as well as of its legitimated system of authority.' Hence, Ricoeur continues, each order's mode of public knowledge or Ideology—whose function is to enable the subject of the order to know the order in terms that are adaptively advantageous to its own reproduction, and thereby to behave in ways oriented by that knowledge, and as a function that therefore calls for its intellectuals, religious or secular, to ensure the rigorous production of such knowledge—must, given its order-integrating, in¬deed order-producing and reproducing function, remain "impervious to philosophical attack"; it is everywhere the "systemic function of utopian modes of thought to challenge these modes of public and order-integrating thought from a place outside the order's mode of rationality—from utopia, that is nowhere" (Ricoeur 1979). From the perspective, therefore, of those whose exclusion—or systemic subordination as in the case of the laity and lay intellectuals of late medieval Europe—is the indispensable condition of the order's truth, and therefore of its existence. Or as in the case of our own "imposed wrongness of being," or desetre, as experienced through the Fanonian type of black self-alienation, W E. B. Du Bois's "double consciousness," or, in George Lamming's terms, our systemically in¬duced self-amputation (Lamming 1984), as the ultimate Human Other to Man over-represented as if it were the human.I understand full well that Wynter's prose can only be processed with considerable focus, and it took me quite a long time to read her ouvre and understand it. The point is that social orders, rather than biology, are the mechanism for human adaptation and evolution. Humans do not evolve slowly through breeding and genetic mutation, but rather evolve quickly through their capacity for language, narrative, and symbolic understanding that allow intra-generational reformulations of what must be done to survive. In the same law-like fashion that biogenetic evolution occurs to protect the species from extinction, culture/sociogeny functions to propel a social order into the future. The diversity of human cultures and social orders reflects the diversity of global contexts into which humans have been able to adapt. If humans exercise autonomy over their cultural modes of sociogenic reproduction, the culture will adapt to human circumstances. The "dialectic" that is consistently faced, however, is whether the modes of sociogenic reproduction are too strong to allow substantial revision and adaptation. A social order that becomes too effective in reproducing itself may soon collapse, as can be seen throughout the history of human empires. As such, a social order must listen to precisely those people who it casts outside of itself, the liminal or threshold figures of the order (for discussion of these anthropological terms, see Victor Turner and Asmaron Legesse). It is only from the vantage point of those excluded or partially excluded from the social orders that the flaws in the social order are evident, because the human beings sociogenically produced as good humans of their kind are tasked not with criticism of the social order but with its reproduction.
In the context of a world after 500 plus years of Western European colonialism that has reached every part of the globe, we are faced with a globalized Eurocentric culture/sociogeny, one that has Africans and the African diaspora as its most radical Other and symbol of social death. Its modes of sociogeny places limits on all human beings, who are inundated with Eurocentric cultural, economic, and political institutions that work as a hegemonic coalition. Such a social order may produce brazenly misanthropic systems of human organization, like a dependence on industrial military and incarceration to police the world, or the control of human production and economies by investor classes, or systems for democratic representation that systemically produce unrepresentative politics. The fidelity to the US constitution as if it were the embodiment of how any society ought to be governed in spite of the vast differences in knowledge and experience possessed by its drafters and the people who are now subjugated to it, is one example of a social order reproducing itself sociogenically so that its very premises are not subjected to widespread critical scrutiny but are rather performed piecemeal and generally long after the damage has been done. We can look at it as a system for democracy, or we can look at it as a document written by settler-colonists to preserve their power that has functioned to do so for 220 years. We can look at the US states as random geographic groupings, or we can acknowledge that with the exception of Hawaii each state was admitted to the Union only after it had become a white majority, at least in terms of those with the franchise.
To go beyond racism it is not even remotely enough to simply examine our privileges, acknowledge that racism exists, and hope to identify it when present. We must see how racism shapes our very being, how are being is not biological body + rational/independent mind but rather a life form in which sociogeny functions as law-likely as do ontogeny and phylogeny.
The analogy to the Smurfs, Batman, and Star Wars is here completely inappropriate. (And, I cannot help but add, is evidence of the ethnocentrism of Craig's response.) I do not hate what you represent and seek to destroy you with violence. I am not seeking antagonism. I am seeking a change in human life, and I am identifying baseball and its legal, political, economic and cultural facets as a crucial site for the sociogenic reproduction of our order. How we as fans develop loyalty, conceive of the individual and the group, comprehend the passage of time and opportunity and the promise of the future, are all hugely significant in our lives. We cannot let the systems devised by Landis, Rickey, Kuhn, and Selig suffice. We must seek a new epistemology and a new understanding of our existence, because the ones we have received and been taught (and, it should be clear, this teaching requires active learning - we as human beings participate in and can at all times alter our sociogenic production) are simply not adequate to create a world where our modes of sociogeny affirm the entire human species and not just the subjects considered its ideal. The disproportionate power of the breadwinner, the investor, the politician, the owner - this power is culturally produced, and at every level, and with the aid of baseball constructs like the manager and the scout. This disproportionate power puts us all at risk because these actors are produced to act primarily in the interest of their Ethnoclasses and not the interests of the human species as a whole.
My ill feelings are not to Craig, the human being, who simply struggles with the same issues as I from a different perspective. My ill feelings are toward the modes of cultural production that he has taken on and reproduced, and my anger stems from his heretofore inability to respond to criticism with self-reflexiveness instead of reactive defense. Despite the contentions of Craig's commenters, I have not called Craig "racist" or "a racist." I have sought to put his arguments in their sociogenic context, just as I seek to put every moment of my reality in its sociogenic context. I see us as in this together, but I don't think that our samenesses mean I should avoid antagonistic forms of argument. Antagonism can be highly productive. Whether my own antagonistic arguments have been productive is a question I cannot adequately answer, and I cannot remove this tendency from its sociogenic context; I have indeed been raised by an antagonistic culture.
I have not gobbled up Greenberg's assertion like candy. I have thought about it in its context, and it is telling that Craig has decided it appropriate to cherry-pick my silence on the tertiary issue of Wilson's acceptance of Greenberg at face value as a reason to discard the bulk of my contentions at the same time that he criticizes me for cherry-picking. I have called for a new approach, and Shysterball has responded by labeling me an enemy, with a slight and unenthusiastic backtrack. The exchange began with Craig disregarding fair criticisms, and he continues to stay out of their substance to focus on characterizing me, dwil, and Zirin as fundamentally lacking. It is my contention that no progress against racism can be made unless we start from the perspective of finding the value in radical criticisms of the social order; we must consider these critiques in context and not disregard them at the first sign of a comforting reason to find them lacking. Otherwise, we will never be able to see what is lacking in ourselves.