Tag Archives: self-respect

Where Have You Gone, Ernest Hemingway? Of Baseball, Tanking, Winning, Trying, And Life…

This essay is only incidentally about baseball, but like so many things that sieve through my brain, it was sparked by a conversation about baseball. On the satellite radio MLB channel, one of the interchangeable hosts—I really have trouble telling them apart: some are ex-general managers who nobody will hire, some are ex-players, and a few are sportswriters, but they all seem to say the same things, though one says them with a bilateral lisp—was interviewing a New York sportswriter. That alone would normally prompt me to switch to the Beatles Channel (or the weather), but as I reached for the dial I caught one of the writer’s comments. He was talking about the fact that the New York Yankees’ opponent at the time, the Tampa Bay Rays, were almost a .500 team, and were competing despite a tiny payroll, unlike many other teams this year, which have adopted the controversial strategy of fielding cheap and crummy teams (called “tanking’) in the hopes of getting high draft choices as a reward for  miserable won-lost records.

“I guess you have to admire the Rays,” he said, “though in this day and age, it makes no sense to try to be a .500 team.”

What a nauseating, unethical position, and how characteristic of the downward trend in American values and spirituality!  It makes no sense to try be a .500 team? This sentiment warps so much in American life today. It translates into the envy, resentment and anger that typical, normal, healthy Americans lug around on their souls all day because they aren’t rich like the people they see on TV, or the neighbor down the street who had wealthy parents and left him a bundle.

It makes sense for the Rays to try to be a .500 team because it means the team is doing the best it can, despite limitations beyond its control, to give its fans something to cheer and care about. It makes sense to try to be a .500 team for the same reason it makes sense to aspire to be the kind of steady, honest, hard-working middle class American who raises happy and well-adjusted children in a stable home but will never win any major awards or be the subject of features in their local newspapers. It makes sense to try to be a .500 team for the same reason it is right to work hard and well no matter what your salary, or whether you are being paid at all.

Ambition is a great motivator, as long as one understands that achieving one’s goals is often as dependent on chance and chaos as it is on industry and talent, and if you prepare yourself to be bitter about that, bitter is how you are likely to wind up.

I learned to love baseball passionately following a .500 baseball team–indeed a sub-.500 baseball team— that seemed like it would never be anything but. This was in an era where the New York Yankees literally won the pennant every year, with a rare exception now and then. The system was rigged to favor them, and had been for decades. The Boston Red Sox began every season knowing that getting to the World Series was a pipe dream, and their fans knew it too. Nevertheless, they tried. As an almost good team, they had a chance to win every game—not a great chance, when they were playing the Yankees, but a chance. Often the Sox made a good fight of it while going down: our hopes were raised, and there was that wonderful-horrible moment that is the beating heart of baseball where anything can happen from a miracle to a tragedy as the ball is hurtling toward the plate and fate’s resolution. Life is like that, and the sooner you realize and accept it, the better off you are.

The best hitters make outs 60% of the time, and the best teams still lose at least 35% of their games. The typical players and teams do worse than that, just like the typical American, indeed human being, loses a lot more often than he or she wins. The important thing, the thing that undergirds ethics, and integrity, and responsibility, and honor, is that you do the best you can, and pick yourself up when you fail, and try again. It’s not a bromide. It’s the only way to live without going crazy, becoming a serial killer, or surrendering to despair. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Daily Life, Ethics Heroes, Literature, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee

Rhodes-College

“As a leading scholar and author in the areas of race, class, gender, culture, and the South, Dr. Zandria Robinson’s comments are sometimes provocative, controversial, and debatable. Dr. Robinson was hired for a faculty position in the Rhodes Anthropology & Sociology Department that calls for expertise in particular areas, specifically gender studies and social movements. Her expertise in these areas, her extensive understanding of the complex problems of race in American society, her deep roots in the Memphis area, and many years of successful teaching experience, made her an attractive candidate for the position.”

Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, announcing that it has hired racist Zandria Robinson as a member of the faculty. Robinson had been kicked off the faculty of neighboring University of Memphis after repeatedly condemning whites, writing that “whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror, ”  and tweeting that she did not want her daughter to attend a university with “snotty privileged white'”students.”

Yes, racists are attractive candidates to mold young minds, aren’t they?

Two simple words suffice to describe the ethical, indeed mandatory response to this: WALK OUT. No white student should debase herself or himself by paying a cent of tuition to an institution with this total absence of respect and regard for them as human beings. No black student whose conscience and sense of decency hasn’t been thoroughly rotted through by being taught and indoctrinated by mentors and teachers like Robinson should remain either. This isn’t diversity, and it isn’t academic freedom. It is an endorsement of racism.

Yes, the college is literally saying that racist sentiments demonstrate extensive understanding of the complex problems of race in American society. No, they don’t. They demonstrate bigotry, hate and ignorance. Robinson is as much a component of America’s race relations dysfunction as Al Sharpton and Dylan Roof. Her brand of anti-white brainwashing is the cultural poison that persuades weak-willed, insecure dupes like Rachel Dolezal decide that she is ashamed of her family, her heritage, and her physical body. No responsible school of any size or mission should allow someone like Robinson to come in contact with students, much less teach them, except perhaps in an interactive exhibit called “This is Black Racism. Ugly, Isn’t It?”

Rhodes isn’t a responsible school, though, or a competent one. It is deluded. Here is the rest of its jaw dropping announcement of its new, white-hating scholar:

When Dr. Robinson was previously at Rhodes during the 2008-2009 academic year, she was well received by students who appreciated her ability to challenge them to think about society with fresh eyes.
There’s nothing fresh about bigotry. What’s fresh, I guess, is arrogant and pampered African American scholars who think that they can express exactly the kind of generalized, stereotyped hatred of a race that white racists spewed for centuries, and be rewarded for it.

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Race, Rights