Monday, April 21, 2008

Whitlock mostly wrong on T-Bones promo

I really don't want this to be a blog that is mainly about sports. I try to cover many topics and ideas but mostly I just try to react to what the typical southern johnson county idiot is thinking about. Today's opinion column by Jason Whitlock goes deeper than sports so I thought I'd comment on it. You can reach him at

So, this morning I read Jason Whitlock's opinion piece on the T-Bones reworked promo welcoming Mike Vick to the neighborhood. I like Whitlock and his work and I miss him on the radio. I think on this one either he felt he had to say this to keep him in good standing in the black community or he is just wrong. I guess the worst thing a black man can be accused of in the community is being an Uncle Tom or afraid to stand up to the man so if that is the reason behind this column I guess I'll try to understand.

He was certainly stepping oh so quietly as to not call out the T-Bones and tried instead to make it into a comment on the fact that we all have blindspots in our sensitivities toward others but nonetheless he told the T-Bones they were wrong and insensitive to embarrass Mike Vick with this promotion. He told them they didn't understand the race issue in America.

Let's just all be grateful that we didn't get a visit from Jesse Jackson with threats and speeches and after a closed door meeting come out with an announcement of more minority hirings in the front office. The story made the USA Today ,which is where I first read it while traveling for work, so there was national publicity on the issue. All told, I'd rather take it from Jason than from Jesse I guess.

I'm not going to suggest it was in the best taste to offer the promotion but it didn't cross the line. Minor league baseball is legendary for crazy promotions and usually the crazier the better. Back in 2004, Gennaro Filice did a piece at on the top 10 craziest promos in minor league baseball. I think it is instructional. They are listed below.

1. Nobody Night, July 8, 2002 Designed to set the record for professional baseball's lowest attendance (zero), fans were locked out of this Charleston Riverdogs vs. Columbus RedStixx game until the fifth inning, when the game become official.
2. Awful Night, July 14, 2003 Attempting to produce the worst atmosphere ever at a baseball game, the Altoona Curve had music by William Shatner and Milli Vanilli, a gate giveaway of a 12-inch square of bubble wrap, pregame autograph sessions with non-celebrities, batting averages listed as "failed averages" (a .300 hitter had a .700 average) and a special presentation to the 1962 Mets -- baseball's worst team ever.
3. Silent Night, July 14, 2003 The Charleston Riverdogs went for another record against the Capital City Bombers when they tried to play the quietest game ever. For the first five innings, there was no talking. Fans wore duct tape over their mouths and held placards that read "YEAH!," "BOO!" and "HEY BEER MAN!" Also, ushers were replaced by librarians and golf marshals held up "Quiet Please" signs.
4. Pre-planned Funeral Night, Aug. 16, 2003 The Hagerstown Suns gave away a full pre-paid funeral valued at $6,500 to one (un)lucky fan. The package included embalming, a casket and funeral home use, as well as a death certificate. Two-thousand fans entered the contest.
5. Auctioned At-Bat, May 14, 2004 The St. Paul Saints sold off an at-bat on eBay, drawing a winning bid of $5,601. The winner, Los Angeles resident Marc Turndorf, popped out in his auctioned at-bat. But the Saints manager liked Turndorf so much, he had him start the next game. Unfortunately, Turndorf went 0-for-4.
6. Richard Nixon Bobblehead Night, June 17, 2004 The Nashua Pride decided to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Watergate break-in by giving out 1,000 Nixon bobbleheads. Anyone named Woodward or Bernstein got in free, and there was 18 1/2 minutes of silence recognizing the gap in the Watergate tape.
7. Ted Williams Popsicle Night, June 3, 2003 When Williams' body was cryogenically frozen, the Bisbee-Douglas Copper Kings gave popsicles to the first 500 fans.
8. Corky Night, June 5, 2003 After Sammy Sosa's corked bat incident last season, the Fort Myers Miracle gave out sheets of cork to the first 505 (the same number of home runs Sosa had in his career at that point) fans. The Miracle also gave free entrance to anyone whose name included Corky, Sammy or Sosa.
9. Who Wants to Be a Turkish Millionaire?, 2002 The Nashua Pride used to give away a million Turkish lira (worth about $1.16) every night to fans who could answer questions of varying difficulty.
10. George Costanza Night, Aug. 2003 The Fort Worth Miracle's tribute to the Seinfeld character commemorated Costanza's innate ability to do things opposite of the norm. Fans were paid to park and the scoreboard ran backwards from the ninth inning to the first.

There are a couple examples in here that under Jason's criteria were over the line. Where was the outrage???

Further, it has been announced that the Macon Music in the Southern league will have a "Spitzer Night" to make fun of the Eliot Spitzer scandal. It comes complete with a prize for a lucky fan who will get a night at the Mayflower Hotel in New York. You can read about the full details at Is Jason going to suggest that it is wrong to make fun of Spitzer's problems? Of course not.

The point is that it is nothing new for these minor league teams and while many are in bad taste they don't cross the line. I think we all take them for what they are.....or aren't.

Second, to suggest that it shouldn't have been done because going to prison is traumatic is silly. It is supposed to be traumatic. It is supposed to be embarrassing. It is a big part of why prison works for most of us because we don't want the embarrassment of going. Society is suppose to look down on it. For Jason to suggest it is insensitive to make fun of Michael Vick is just over the top. He should be ridiculed and yes, in some ways from a sports team is even better because it is from the world in which he was worshipped. It shouldn't be a racial issue.

Unfortunately, Jason intertwines a real issue and problem in this piece that adds confusion to the issue and that is our nation's love affair with prison building and the alarming stats on the disproportionate number of blacks that are in prison and the inequity in sentencing including the death penalty for blacks. This is a real issue unlike the T-Bones promo which is a non-issue. The real issue is complicated and is laced with problems of racism, poor funding for education in our urban core, poverty, and too many homes without fathers. Jason didn't mention that stat while he was pecking away but even Obama and Cosby have articulated the problem of children without fathers. I think Obama called it the "legacy of defeat". I read in the Buffalo News online that in 2005 37% of all children were born to single mothers but 70% of blacks were born to single mothers. Both numbers are too high. I think Jason has put his name with Big Brothers and Sisters which is admirable but why not write about that mission and the whole issue instead of jacking around with the T-Bones. By the way, if I really wrote about the real issue it would take quite a bit of room and I'd probably bore you to death.

I just don't think the "Michael Vick Welcome Night" at the T-Bones and this real issue have much in common and it is really unfair to link them. While I know it is somewhat unfair to make the comparision I will anyway......if instead of Micheal Vick it was Peyton Manning would Jason still write that column? Will he be similarly upset at the notion of an Eliot Spitzer night at another ballpark? Isn't the victimization of women caught in prostitution and making fun of a woman who couldn't pay her bills just as bad as this guy who abused/killed dogs? I mean I love dogs but I put people above dogs.

Maybe Jason is right that as a white guy from southern Johnson County I don't have the perspective or maturity to understand. I don't spend much of my time feeling sorry for criminals whether they are white or black.

And finally, Jason praised the courage of the team to pull the plug so quickly. It wasn't courage. They didn't have a choice. They have sponsors and businesses don't have the luxury of making stands on issues like this.

And as final reminder of what this guy did here is a picture of a dog harmed in a dog fight:

Now, do you still think the same way?

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