Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

The Captain and the Art of Mythmaking

The Captain

 

“The greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived, and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” —JFK

 

As Derek Jeter is poised to make history this weekend, his career is in a very unusual place. On the one hand, he is standing on the cusp of history, poised to become the first Yankee to reach 3,000 hits. On the other hand, he is following up 2010, the worst season of his career, with an even worse year. The Yankees played their best stretch of baseball with him on the DL, leading some to wonder if the team is better off without him. And he remains under contract through at least 2013.

So why release a biography of Jeter now, at such an uncertain crossroads in his career? Writing a biography of Jeter that culminates in the 2009 season—squeezing his dreadful ’10 and his contentious contract negotiations this off-season into the epilogue—is like writing a biography of Julius Caesar that ends on March 14th.

Ian O’Connor’s new book, The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter, is bound to be incomplete. So why did he write it? It seems clear that the primary motive O’Connor had for writing this book was not to bring new light to Jeter’s career, but to enhance the myths already surrounding it. The Captain is, above all else, an exercise in mythmaking. Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Gilbert Arenas and Michael Vick

Gilbert Arenas is a pretty funny guy, huh? I mean, I haven’t seen humor that black since George Bluth died.

Now, I’m generally not pro Bringing Lethal Weapons To Work. And I generally think it’s okay for employers to fire employees for moral reasons, particularly when the “employer” is as squarely in the public eye as the NBA is. But I think it’s naïve to say that the NBA is in the same position as any other employer.

There was a lot of debate about a similar topic last year, when Roger Goodell decided to reinstate Michael Vick in the NFL. Some people were adamantly on Vick’s side, saying that he had paid his debt to society by spending two years in prison. Therefore, the NFL should honor that “clean slate” by reinstating him.

Other people, though, thought that simply being in prison did not fully warrant a return to football. After all, Vick’s “crime” wasn’t only breaking the law, but tarnishing his image and the image of the NFL. The NFL can choose not to hire an ex-con just as any private company or institution can refuse to employ someone based on his or her background.

Like the NBA, though, the NFL can’t just use this excuse. Both professional leagues have, for all intents and purposes,* a professional monopoly on their sport—if I want to be a pro football player, the NFL is really all that’s available to me.

*There are other basketball leagues, just as there used to be other football leagues, but the difference in scale and salary is such that it’s ridiculous to compare the two.  Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while looking for a more suitable sponsor…

  • We almost always recommend something from it, but consider reading this week’s NY Times Magazine cover to cover: It’s the 9th Annual Year in Ideas Issue and it features an interview with eminent University of Chicago Philosopher Martha Nussbaum.
  • When we read Russian lit–and you know we do–we do our best to procure the translation by the husband and wife team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. The Millions recently did an interview with the pair about their methods, philosophies, and future projects.

Symposium: Joba Should Stay in the Rotation

In his last game (against the Indians), Joba Chamberlain pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning on the way to a Rivera save and a Yankees win. Oh yeah, he also pitched the first seven innings, giving up only four hits and two runs. That was probably more important.

This shouldn’t even be a debate. Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that a starting pitcher is more valuable than a relief pitcher. In fact, anyone who knows anything about ANYTHING knows that, if someone is good at something, you want him to do that thing MORE. Continue reading