Professional sports are not my personal choice for entertainment, but I do enjoy the side benefit that it provides steady employment for some consistently entertaining writers. As, for example, Tom Scocca at Slate, in a post subtitled “I Know Why I Cheer for a Birther Moron, But Why Does ESPN Cheer for Him?”
Last week, Amy K. Nelson of ESPN wrote a long profile of Scott, who she identified as “one of baseball’s most complex characters” and someone who “will require a deeper line of thinking.”
Nope. Luke Scott, as he showed Nelson while roaming around Florida with her during spring training, is a standard-issue ignoramus, whose otherwise unfurnished mental spaces have been filled in with white-exceptionalist superpatriotism, gun-fetish paranoia, and assorted other fantasies and delusions scavenged from the county dump of red-blooded One-Hundred-Percent America….
But Amy K. Nelson is interested in his character. Here are the complex-ish parts: he’s a white ballplayer who is friendly with his Latino teammates and speaks fluent Spanish—having grown up poor in Florida. He does charitable works “with no publicity,” except for the publicity that comes from letting that fact be known to a reporter profiling him for the biggest sports-media outlet in the country. And…well, no, that’s it. He has nice manners.
Did I mention he hits baseballs hard? Being a sports fan, and a baseball fan in particular, means you are emotionally invested in a certain aspect of the lives and successes of people who have been rewarded, with tremendous amounts of money and fame, for doing (and being) what they did (and were) as 14-year-olds…
Screwing around with guns in front of a national reporter, while a case of manslaughter or worse was hanging over his ballclub, was a piss-poor cognitive decision. Some leagues would find a way to discipline a player reckless and self-centered enough to do that. But Scott seems hell-bent on becoming the Carrie Prejean of baseball, and it won’t do the Orioles any good to help him along the way.
And the inestimable Charles P. Pierce, discussing the same article about the same ballplayer:
Leaving aside the learned disquisitions on constitutional law — “Godly principles”? James Madison just chugged a whole bottle of Madeira in the Beyond. — This Blog was most struck by this passage:
“Most of Scott’s childhood friends are in prison, he says, or in the military; he would have been a Marine sniper had baseball not panned out. But it did.”
Wait. Hold on a minute.
Luke Scott “would’ve been” a Marine sniper, but he got too good at baseball to try out for the job? This Blog calls horse-hockey here. Assuming Scott is marksman enough to make the grade, if he wanted to be a Marine sniper, he would be a Marine sniper. He decided he preferred to play baseball for a living. Period. This Blog is not aware of any rule in the Corps reading to the effect that: “An applicant shall be denied entry to the Corps, and shall not be considered for specialized duty, if said applicant can hit .267 lifetime.”
The barstools, alas, are full of guys who would’ve joined the military if it wasn’t for etc. etc. etc. And, if you’re going to run a quote like this, you should really get a statement from the Tillman family.
Click through to the links for much more excellence, including talk about actual baseball.