Day Nine: Change of plans, and a few fun things.

So after nine days of this experiment I’ve realized that this is going to be a mentally and physically exhaustive challenge. I’ve also noticed that, by virtue of forcing myself to write everyday, the thoughts and ideas I’d like to convey weren’t given enough time to ferment. What’s the point of writing if the stuff you’re writing isn’t as good as it can, or should, be?

I’m hoping to continue working on essays and features for some sites and publications, and as a result, writing here everyday won’t be as feasible – I don’t want to write just to write, I want those words to express something meaningful. For now, my goal will be to write here once or twice a week, pieces that have been given more time to be thought out and better researched, plus, as you’ll learn momentarily, I’ll share some of my favorite things of the past week each Friday.

Anyway, I hope you continue to come back to this space, as I appreciate all of your support.

Now, on to my favorite things this week! (In no particular order of favoritism.)

  • Leigh Cowart’s (@voraciousbrain on Twitter) essay on committing baseball adultery.  Like Leigh, I’ve also been committing adultery of the baseball kind in recent years, as I’ve been watching more and more of the Oakland A’s (the same team with which Leigh cheats on the Tampa Bay Rays). I don’t, however, consider my particular situation to be adulterous, but rather that I’m in a committed, polygamous relationship with both the New York Yankees and the Oakland A’s. Part of it is, oddly, for social reasons, but also because, as an adult, I’m sort of over the concept of single team loyalties, and prefer, mostly, to watch sports (almost any sport, really) for enjoyment, rather than out of a sense of commitment to a single team. (This is something I hope to explore with more depth in the near future.)
  • Malcontent!Twitter Friend Erik Malinowski (of Fox Sports, but more importantly of Rule #1 fame) has a new daily newsletter, and it is predictably awesome. It’s as fun of a newsletter as Erik is nice, and he’s a pretty swell dude. You can subscribe here.
  • Move over, Dylan, Sophia Grace is the greatest rapper of all-time, cuz she spit hot fire.
  • The fantastic Nitasha Tiku of The Verge wrote a piece about the lengths she was willing to go to in order to interview CEO Dick Costolo. Instead, she just fell in love with SoulCycle. Also of note: “All tweets are inherently thirsty.”
  • Brian Phillips, aka @runofplay, wrote a terrific essay for Grantland on the tragicomedy that is the final chapter of Kobe Bryant’s career
  • Speaking of Kobe Bryant, Liverpool’s young star, Raheem Sterling, has something in common with Kobe Bryant in that he’s been arrested for violent crimes against women, and, like Kobe, his story seems to be getting forgotten by fans as he progresses into one of the finer players in the world. Some schlub named Bhavin Bavalia wrote about Sterling and cognitive dissonance for The Classical 
  • Marcus Thompson wrote a piece on how Draymond Green went from undervalued second round pick out of Michigan State (and one of my favorite college players of all-time) to one of the most valuable players on, arguably, the best team in the NBA. Draymond’s about to get paid this summer, and it couldn’t happen to a better person.
  • Hamilton Nolan on why terrorism works. (Because we let it.)
  • The great Jorge Arangure on Adebayo Akinfenwa, who is essentially the Jared Lorenzen of English football, and my new favorite person.
  • The unparalleled David Roth (not that one) destroyed the Mueller Report and the NFL’s delusions (I’ve twice seen people refer to it as an “ether.”). David also edited my piece for The Classical and, honestly, made it way better than anything I’ve written has business being. He’s a great dude and and even better writer, so if you don’t follow his work you’re missing out.
  • The Roast of Tommy Craggs is ongoing at Deadspin today, it it is predictably Deadspin-ish. Craggs, who naturally ruined Deadspin, is probably one of the best writers in the game, so, on a selfish level, it kinda sucks that he’ll be doing even less writing when he takes over as executive editor for all of Gawker Media.
  • Lastly, an interview with Deray Mckesson (@deray) on the merits of hashtag activism and the democratization of protest. This sort of internet activism can actually be effective, as opposed to the virtually useless #BringBackOurGirls or #Kony2012 campaigns which literally do nothing. You can subscribe to Deray and Netta’s newsletter here.

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Day Eight: Read me on The Classical!

So instead of reading me here tonight, head on over to The Classical, where I wrote an essay on Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, a young midfielder from England (by way of Jamaica) and one of the most promising young footballers in the world.

He’s one of my favorite players right now, but he also has a problematic history of violence against women which makes watching him play an internal struggle between right and wrong. I’m proud of the piece and I think it’s important insofar that the conversation I’m trying to have about Raheem Sterling is relevant to guys like Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Jameis Winston, Adrian Peterson and so many other disgraceful but supremely talented athletes.

I hope you enjoy it.

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I’m currently staring at three different Visa gift cards that I received for the holidays. I’m not complaining about receiving gifts, but why the hell do they have to be in the form of these meaningless gift cards? If you’re going to do that, why not just give me cash? Or an Amazon gift card? At least with that I can see how much money I have left on the card from my account and use the remainder on my next purchase. With these things I have to keep a tally of how much I’ve used on them, which make them almost useless for using on small, everyday purchases. Which basically means that you have to use them on medium-to-big purchases.

But honestly, what’s the point of these “I wasn’t creative enough to buy you a gift, but at least this shows I made a small amount of effort to not be the scumbag who gave you cash”-gift cards? The only purpose the Visa Gift Card serves is to make you feel slightly better about having no creativity or just not giving enough of a shit to make a enough of an effort. Like, why purchase $25 Visa Gift Card, really? You mean you couldn’t pick up a couple of decent craft six packs, or a hardcover book on one of the millions of things I’m interested in? Shit, even buy me something you *know* I’ll return – at least it forces me to make a purchase at your store of choice. The point of receiving Christmas gifts is that I’m not supposed to do the work. I have no earthly idea what I’d like to purchase, and I’m definitely not gonna be the asshole who uses a Visa Gift Card to pay his bar tab. Don’t buy me these gift cards and force me to buy my own gift, that goes against the very ethos of Christmas. (I may not understand Christmas very well.)
So in conclusion: fuck you bad gift-givers. I wish you a lifetime of Visa Gift Card-filled Christmases.
[I should note that it’s perfectly acceptable for parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/old people in general to give these as gifts. I’ll take one of these over a New Jersey Devils sweater any day.]

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Day Six: Yes, You’re Racist; or Don’t Be an Asshole.

(image via KOLR, h/t Gawker, Mediaite)

(image via KOLR, h/t Gawker, Mediaite)

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you have to say “it’s not racist to…”, it is absolutely, positively racist. But in case some folks need reminding: yes, white pride is racist.

The question most racists love to ask is something along the lines of, “well, if blacks and Latinos and Asians can have their own associations, why can’t whites?” And the answer to that requires an understanding of the concept of racism, as it is experienced in American society.

Racism is an institution whereby one group in the majority asserts social, political and economic power over others. That power is wielded outwardly to oppress minorities through policies such as red-lining or various immigration acts that allowed for more European immigrants than ones from Africa or Asia or South America, but also through subconscious decisions born of xenophobic, racist pathologies. (And, it should be mentioned, it is because of the systemic nature of racism that whites can never experience racism in this country. They can certainly experience anti-white biases, but nothing systemic or institutional in the same manner that non-whites experience racism. Okay, glad I got that off my chest. Let’s continue.)

As Sendhil Mullainathan pointed out in the TimesThe Upshot this weekend, these pathologies have infected every inch of American society:

■ When doctors were shown patient histories and asked to make judgments about heart disease, they were much less likely to recommend cardiac catheterization (a helpful procedure) to black patients — even when their medical files were statistically identical to those of white patients.

■ When whites and blacks were sent to bargain for a used car, blacks were offered initial prices roughly $700 higher, and they received far smaller concessions.

■ Several studies found that sending emails with stereotypically black names in response to apartment-rental ads on Craigslist elicited fewer responses than sending ones with white names. A regularly repeated study by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development sent African-Americans and whites to look at apartments and found that African-Americans were shown fewer apartments to rent and houses for sale.

■ White state legislators were found to be less likely to respond to constituents with African-American names. This was true of legislators in both political parties.

■ Emails sent to faculty members at universities, asking to talk about research opportunities, were more likely to get a reply if a stereotypically white name was used.

■ Even eBay auctions were not immune. When iPods were auctioned on eBay, researchers randomly varied the skin color on the hand holding the iPod. A white hand holding the iPod received 21 percent more offers than a black hand.

You don’t have to be racist to have been influenced by a racist pathology – locking your doors while driving is not racist in and of itself, but purposely doing so while driving through Newark is racist because society has been trained to fear young black men. Again, it doesn’t mean that you are racist, it just means that society has taught you to subconsciously act on racist sterotypes. What those studies show is that racism affects the lives of people of color every day in some of the most benign ways, regardless of the intentions of whites.

The reason why black or Latino or Asian associations exists is precisely because ethnic communities feel the need to work together to better one another, to achieve a level of privilege that WASPs have enjoyed in this country for centuries.

So whiteness is the thing to aspire to. Not everyone does, of course, but many minorities have a conflicted longing for WASP whiteness or, more accurately, for the privileges of WASP whiteness. They probably don’t really like pale skin but they certainly like walking into a store without some security dude following them. Hating Your Goy and Eating One Too, as the great Philip Roth put it. So if everyone in America aspires to be WASPs, then what do WASPs aspire to? Does anyone know?

That quote is from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s phenomenal novel, Americanah (which I named my favorite novel of 2013), and it perfectly describes why minorities find the need to associate with one another and employ one another: we’re trying to get on your level. (If you also need to know why people of color need their own magazines and publications, there’s also this quote from Americanah.) We do these things because these aren’t privileges we’re afforded in society, at large; we have no representation in local, state or federal government and so we look to one another for help and opportunities.

White pride organizations are racist because there’s nothing left for white people to accomplish in this country – you have all of the privilege and security one could ever need. You’ve faced no oppression in your lifetime. (Yes, Irish, Italians and Jews have all been oppressed at various times in our history, but they’ve all now been accepted into the greater construction of “whiteness” [though, of course, anti-Semitism still exists in some pockets of society]. You’re not losing out on job opportunities in 2015 because your last name is Murphy, but you are if it’s Muhammad.) You’ve inherited wealth, sometimes for generations. You’ve even got advantages in online dating. None of this is necessarily your individual faults, but this is a level of privilege that no one else is afforded. We should all be given the same opportunities, and that’s not happening if white pride organizations – through which whites continue to assert their social, political and economic dominance by hiring and electing other whites or by segregating communities – continue to exist.

Listen, we get it. Being white is AWESOME; it doesn’t mean you’re inherently better, but it’s pretty clearly better to be white in America. I mean, you can’t dance and your rappers suck (and still benefit from the privileges of whiteness), but I understand why you love it. Thing is, you’ve already won, white people. You’ve achieved a level of privilege and security that everyone else aspires to. That everyone else is fighting for. Congratulations.

Just don’t be assholes about it.


Filed under 365 Days, Essays, Race

Day Five: A Simple Flow Chart for Hall of Fame qualifications.

Here’s a quick flow chart for all of the criteria one needs to vote for the Hall of Fame:

Screenshot 2015-01-04 19.37.33

That’s it. That’s all you need. I don’t give a shit if the player in question was a dick to the press, or if someone thinks they took something illegal (even if they have no proof). Was the player, within the context of his era, great at playing baseball? If yes, he’s a Hall of Famer; if no, he’s not. It’s pretty simple. Self-aggrandizing assholes don’t need to be complicating this.

Anyway, here’s how I’d vote if there were no restrictions on how many players one could vote for: Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Johnson, Kent, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, McGwire, Mussina, Piazza, Raines, Schilling, Sheffield, Smoltz, Sosa, Trammell, Walker.

That’s a lot of players, and unfortunately you can only vote for ten. If I had a hypothetical ballot, I’d likely go the same route as Twitter-pal-with-an-actual-vote, Mike Berardino, who voted strategically and left off Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson (who were essentially guaranteed entry to the Hall) and used his vote on players in danger of falling off of the ballot.

All of that said, this is probably how I’d vote if I had the privilege of doing so: Bagwell, Biggio, Edgar, Moose, Piazza, Raines, Trammell, Walker (like Mike) and then McGwire and Sosa over Schilling and Smoltz, mostly because Schill will stay on the ballot and eventually get in and Smoltz is getting in this year (why he’s in over Moose and Schilling I’ll never understand), while Sosa and McGwire are in serious danger of falling off the ballot.

Just for good measure, in a world that makes sense, one where I wouldn’t have to game the system, my actual ten-man ballot would be: Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Johnson, Edgar, Pedro, Moose, Piazza, Raines. (Moose over Schilling simply because of preference; I consider them equals.)

And, just to make a prediction, I’m guessing Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio all make it. Mike Piazza and Tim Raines will both be close, and (I hope, otherwise Jonah will kill everyone) they’ll get in next year.

Okay, now that that’s done, I’m gonna go ahead and mute all Twitter discussion of the Hall of Fame after the announcement on Tuesday.

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