sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Friday, June 23, 2006

....MLB sentences Ozzie Guillen to sensitivity training.

Somehow I doubt this is the first time a manager or ballplayer has called a sportswriter a fag. Surely Jay Mariotti knew this, considering the fact that he freely chose to immerse himself in a hyper-masculine culture. What did he expect when he decided to spend his life hanging out with rich, half-naked jocks?

Still, the sports media are enraged.

Mariotti colleague Greg Couch writes "What matters is the man who most stands for this organization is throwing around such nasty and hurtful homophobic terms. The issue here is not Mariotti," while ESPN's Mark Kriedler writes "Go get him, Chicago. Drag him out of the dugout if you have to. Call it an intervention if it makes you feel better. But get it done."

But ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski adds some insight into the attitudes many sportswriters carry into the clubhouse:

"Two seasons ago I saw Guillen take a seat on the dugout bench, only to discover he was sitting on a local newspaper, with the page opened to the mug shot of a female columnist. Guillen cracked wise about the location of his rear end and her mug shot. I remember wincing. There were a few forced chuckles, but nobody wrote about it."

OK, while that might not be "funny ha-ha," it wouldn't make me wince, either, and I consider myself a relatively normal, sensitive guy. So the way I see it, when politically-correct sportswriters not only interact with ballplayers but criticize them, inevitiably the ballplayers will fight back with some not-so-fancy words. We are talking ballplayers here, not President Bush, who has also used choice words when describing members of the media.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Mariotti criticizes the White Sox but doesn't interact with them. A major spark was Mariotti's column blaming A.J. Pierzynski for the crosstown brawl, when anyone watching on TV could clearly see Pierzynski made a clean play and Michael Barrett was the instigator. (Every link I've tried on Mariotti's column kick me to yesterday's.) Pierzynski addressed the issue on Pardon the Interruption, noting that he's never seen Mariotti in the clubhouse.

For what it's worth, the Chicago Sports Review's Chris Sprow uses some Shelby Steele to put the issue into perspective:

"In his illuminating book 'White Guilt', Shelby Steele discussed the nature of evolving social morality. He uses two examples. In the first, he wonders why Bill Clinton had no trouble in the approval ratings when he had his unzipped run-in with Monica Lewinsky. As a contrast, when Steele was growing up in Chicago, he recalls a common assumption that President Eisenhower had used the word 'nigger' in an unflattering manner with friends or aides. Ike of course served out two terms successfully, just like Clinton.

"How did these seemingly horrific decisions not cripple either politician?

"Steele comess to the conclusion that Eisenhower could never possibly survive admitted sexual infidelity in the White House during the 1950's, but a common slip of the tongue with racist overtones was widely accepted during that time. It was an age of racism. Further, Bill Clinton could survive the sexual infidelity in the 90's -- a time of growing sexual proliferation and acceptance -- but if the man had ever uttered the 'n' word, he wouldn't have survived the fallout.

"As Steele writes, 'So it was the good luck of each president to sin into the moral relativism of his era … Race simply replaced sex as the primary focus of America's moral seriousness.'

"And as much as the use of the term 'fag' to address somebody has long-since fallen under the headings of derogatory and not politically correct, Ozzie Guillen is sinning into the moral relativism of his era. In fact, he's sinning into the moral relativism of any era."


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