*Disclaimer: I intended to write very little about Anderson and bat flips, concentrating instead on the state of the rebuild 31 games into year three. It did not work out that way. My apologies.
I have had 56 different Tim Anderson articles in my head since this bat flip nonsense happened. In each I intended to be sanctimonious without being get off my grass guy. In each I intended on writing at least 1000 words, illustrating comprehensively and meticulously where everything has gone wrong. In each I wanted the sycophants and the jock sniffers and the millennials and the enablers to realize when they were done reading my article that rethinking the Let Them Have Fun mentality is the right thing to do.
I scrapped that idea. You're welcome.
Instead, I am going to maneuver with thrift. I am a devout White Sox fan, but I am not a Tim Anderson fan. It is possible to feel both ways. There are no real complexities here.
My realization is that saying Tim Anderson's bat flips are wrong isn't going to change anyone's mind. It is like ideology and politics. If you were to offer me 500 pages of empirical data stating that families fleeing war torn countries seeking asylum in the United States cost me $168 a year in taxes, I'd say awesome. Money well spent if I can help out people in need. If your point was we should keep those families out, you might as well light that 500 pages on fire, you aren't going to change my mind.
So, Tim. Three points and I move on to year three of the rebuild.
One, Jason Benetti (forgive my paraphrasing) said the fun police are out to get Tim Anderson. Tim Anderson wants to have fun and the fans want to see him have fun. One of my questions is, isn't seeing the home run fun? Isn't scoring the run fun? Isn't winning the game fun? If people are coming out for the bat flips, why play the game at all? Let's just do bat flips for distance, style, and rotations per second. Manny Machado and Anderson will be the bat flipping champions of the world.
If bat flipping is necessary to save baseball from irrelevance in the shadow of the NFL and the NBA, Major League Baseball is in serious trouble.
I wonder if Benetti or anyone he knows has ever been bullied. I am a teacher. I have seen kids bullied. You know what a lot of the bullies themselves had to say to justify their bullying behavior?
"Mr. Stickann, I was just having fun."
Perhaps someone will say to Mr. Benetti without provocation one day soon, "Hey Benetti, ---- you dude!!" When this hypothetical fool is asked why he decided to say something profane and vulgar to Mr. Benetti, I hope he says, "It was fun."
Two, one of the droning, argumentative, know-it-alls on sports talk radio recently started a diatribe in Anderson's defense. That seems to be in vogue now, Chicago radio guys talking about how Anderson's 'swag' is good for the game; their arguments mostly centered on 'fun' as well.
So the one nameless white bread host says to the other vanilla host, "What did your parents teach you when they introduced you to sports?" It was obvious blah-blah host #1 expected blah-blah host #2 to say "To have fun" but instead blah-blah host #2 deviated from the plan and said "Sportsmanship".
At that point blah-blah host #1 had to tell blah-blah host #2 what his parents should have said to him instead of sportsmanship. Needless to say, the whole dialogue fell flat after that. Sportsmanship is what parents should teach their children first and foremost when they're introducing them to sports. The look-at-me attitude that ESPN has brought to this culture isn't 'progress' like I've actually heard other vapid talking heads say. It's regression. It's disintegration of civility. It's disrespect masquerading as fun.
And for those who have turned this into a pseudo-political issue, are you insane? Democrats: "Bat flip, it's cultural!" Republicans: "Do what old white guys do!" Give me a break.
Who's the king of swag and trash talk and putting his opponents in their place?! Why the Trumpster himself, of course. So for those of you who think myself and people like me-who think Anderson is a look-at-me guy-are all conservatives, please give that a rest. I wouldn't vote for Trump if the Donald himself slipped me a million rubles. Wrong is wrong. So it's cool for Anderson to bat flip, but our global embarrassment of a president trash talks and it's wrong? That's illogical. That's picking and choosing when something is disrespectful, uncivil, or selfish based solely on who committed the act.
Third, the Jackie Robinson comments and comparisons? Really? Can an African American from a different generation-an elderly African American who can truly empathize with Robinson and the disgusting injustices he not only tolerated but rose HIGH above-please tell Anderson to stop. I have read two biographies on Jackie Robinson: Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season by Jonathan Eig and Jackie Robinson: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad. What I read he endured makes me physically sick to recollect. So Tim, don't do that. Jackie Robinson is Martin Luther King, Jr. with a baseball glove. He's Abraham Lincoln with a bat. He's the Tuskegee Airmen, Harriet Tubman, and Muhammed Ali. So Tim, don't do that.
I'm 861 words and I haven't even consulted my notes about the rebuild. I lied to you and myself.
I miss how different baseball was from every other sport, and the respect for the game was a part of that for me. Does that make me old? Does that make me grouchy? Does that make me a 'regressive'? I don't think so. I'll tell you what I think it makes me in a moment.
Lastly, for those who have chosen to make this a race thing, I ask, really? It's 2019 and I or someone like me can't criticize Anderson for the bat flip without it being about race? That's so sad. I feel ridiculous saying I have as many pictures of Satchel Paige hanging in my house as I do of my own children. I feel equally ridiculous admitting I have more Obama t-shirts than Malia and Sasha combined. I became emotional the first time I watched MLK's I Have A Dream Speech with my sons (they were 6 and 5 years old); the import of King's words and charisma magnetizing two little children 42 years later. I shouldn't feel compelled to mention these things as a postscript to an article about bat flipping. This isn't about race at all. It's about a special game and how it's different from every other game.
I'm a romantic-a romantic for baseball. As a fan, the game is my sanctuary, my rest, my peace, my joy, and my warm blanket.
You know what, I'm going to change something from the beginning of this blog. I'm not a non-fan of Tim Anderson. I'm a non-fan of Tim Anderson's bat flips.
Is that progress? No matter. Time marches on for all of us, and baseball, bat flips or no bat flips, remains the finest game on planet earth.
Addendum: I blame everything on Bryce Harper, the undisputed king of Look-At-Me! I thanked Rick Hahn, Kenny Williams, and Jerry Reinsdorf so profusely for not signing Machado, that I forgot extra thanks for not signing Harper. Winning (hopefully) without either of them will make it sweeter.
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