Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Second step

... to the Extra-Strength Head-Scratcher, from ESPN's Jeff Pearlman.

Pearlman spends the entire column describing what he calls "dangerous morons," and then moves into a few paragraphs of telling why he thinks Detroit's Gary Sheffield is one - in fact, "the ultimate dangerous moron of our times."

This is a lot to heap on a guy who swats baseballs for a living; in fact, I would go so far as to say that it buys into the very attitude Pearlman scorns for most of the piece - to quote him, "The dangerous moron looks out at the microphones and TV cameras pointed his way and thinks, 'Gee, I'm something special. Allow me to enthrall the nation.' Then he starts talking."

[Sheffield's talk (printed in GQ, of all places) basically theorizes that blacks make a lower percentage of major league ballplayers now compared to 20 years ago because blacks can't be controlled as easily as Latino players. It apparently has nothing to do with blacks choosing to go into other sports, or into other professions entirely - and nothing to do with Hispanics now outnumbering blacks in the overall American population. It has nothing to do with Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Carlos Beltran being absolute mashers.]

"Here is the point where Clich├ęd Columnist Rule No. 28-6 demands that I slam Sheffield; that I call for an apology, question his worthiness as a human being, and challenge Bud Selig to come up with some sort of a suspension."

Seems to me that he's already done most of this. No apology call, true - and no challenge to Selig, who would be challenged by your average dollar menu at the drive-thru - but the whole article has basically ripped Sheff a new one.

"This is how it's worked in the sports media for eons: We bitch and moan that players are little more than mantra-spewing robots. We long for a guy who'll speak his mind. We find a guy who speaks his mind. We rush toward him. He speaks his mind. He's a dangerous moron who says inane things... Then we hang him. Well, I'm no longer playing that game. I refuse to bash Sheffield for his words because, quite frankly, the man is a dolt."

To recap, kids - Pearlman is no longer playing this game, as of the end of an entire column in which he plays the game like a master. He refuses to bash Sheffield because, well, ok, one more lick couldn't hurt: "the man is a dolt."

Dolt or not, Sheffield is harmless - a ballplayer, whom everyone knows as a serial malcontent burning out his welcome in clubhouse after clubhouse. He's hardly dangerous. This man, however, is attempting to become President of the United States.

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