Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scott Miller's Childish Faith of a Child

By The Common Man

Look, at some point in our lives, almost all of us have idolized a baseball player or two.  They're on TV a lot, they do seemingly heroic things, and they're talked about in such glowing terms by broadcasters and sportswriters alike that it's easy for fans to fall for the narratives.

This happened to The Common Man with Kirby Puckett, a dumpy, perpetually smiling highlight reel with a funny name and who looked fairly ridiculous at the plate until he'd hit a baseball really, really hard, and who seemed to handle the abrupt end of his career with grace and dignity.  It turned out that Kirby Puckett wasn't nearly as nice as he was portrayed on TV, in magazines, in newspapers, and in his autobiography (which The Common Man owns in both its adult and children's editions).  It turns out that Kirby Puckett, in addition to being a really good baseball player who loved to play the game and smile a lot was also a womanizer and allegedly a sex offender.

This is not to pile on to Puckett, who The Common Man is absolutely incapable of viewing rationally as either a ballplayer or a human being, given how hard he rooted for him in real life and how much of a part of TCM's childhood Puckett was.  Puckett helped make The Common Man a baseball fan, and TCM will always be grateful for that, and for Puckett's incredible performances in the clutch that helped the Twins win two World Championships.

But hearing about the various scandals that came to light in the wake of Puckett's induction into the Hall of Fame taught The Common Man a valuable lesson that has been reinforced again and again:  Ballplayers are not paragons of virtue.  They are human beings.  Some of them are great people, who may make the occasional mistake.  Some of them are regular schmoes.  And some of them are absolute jerks.  Just like the rest of us.

So when The Common Man sees a guy like Scott Miller of CBS Sports saying that he's going to "get the knives out for Manny" upon Man-Ram’s "reprehensible" new minor league deal with the A’s, and then suggesting that Manny somehow personally betrayed Miller's faith and trust last year because of how things went in Tampa, The Common Man can't help but wonder how an adult who has had this much access to the game has been allowed to continue with such a childish outlook for so long.  Miller seems like a decent and thoughtful guy in the interactions that TCM has had with him, and is incredibly concerned about PED use and, presumably, other bad behaviors by ballplayers.  But why then is Miller not railing against those behaviors as well?

Sure, Manny Ramirez may, indeed, be a terrible person.  His purported behavior last fall, when he allegedly battered his wife, certainly suggests that.  He did, almost certainly, knowingly use “performance enhancing” drugs, which is against the rules.  And there are certainly legitimate questions about whether Manny has been and will be a good teammate, or whether he will provide too much of a distraction for his new team.  Even Manny’s most ardent supporters and apologists would have to acknowledge that.

But that’s no excuse for a seasoned sports reporter, who has been around long enough to be trusted with a Hall of Fame vote from the BBWAA, to publicly relish the idea of ripping a player, especially one who is unlikely to have a meaningful impact on the 2012 season. It goes against the basic tenants of journalism, which demands impartiality from its practitioners.

It’s also ridiculous to feel moved by the A’s modest signing of Ramirez when there are so many other players to get angry about.  Josh Lueke was charged with sexually assaulting, and pleaded guilty to illegally detaining, a young woman while he was in the minors.  Miguel Cabrera was escorted out of his house by police after a drunken physical altercation with his wife during the 2009 playoffs, and was arrested last year for making terroristic threats and drunk driving.  Brett Myers hit his wife in the face more than once on a busy Boston street.  These men have guaranteed jobs in 2012.  Where is Miller’s outrage here?  Is it because Lueke, Cabrera, and Myers all had the good sense not to do PEDs?  Is it because they didn’t personally betray Miller’s trust?

What rot.  Sure, Manny made mistakes and behaved like an ass.  But so did Scott Miller, in deciding to put his unwavering faith and trust in baseball players like he was still a 9 year old.  It’s not Manny’s fault that you were so unbelievably naïve, Scott.  It’s not his fault that you, a grown man, got your feelings hurt by another grown man who didn’t do anything to you, but who has a well-documented history of messing up.  You got fooled twice, Scott.  Shame on you.  And The Common Man hopes nobody ever tells you the truth about the Easter Bunny.


William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Oh gosh, I love this post. Delicious.

Jason Wojciechowski said...

"Is it because Lueke, Cabrera, and Myers all had the good sense not to do PEDs?"

Or get caught with them, at least.

Stevo-sama said...

excellent tag "media freak out" houses, throwing stones, etc notwithstanding, this will probably be the most controversial piece of Manny's "return" to baseball

The Baseball Idiot said...

Good post. Unfortuantely, all the good posts about this idiot are just feeding the fire.

You have to figure he's struggling and needs readers. Now he has them.

Lukehart80 said...

I'm an Indians fan, and have been since I was 6. I managed to grow up with Kirby as my favorite player though, he was just that damn likable as a player, regardless of what team I was rooting for.

Like TCM, I was also forced by Puckett's post-career transgressions to reevaluate how I thought of my favorite players and athletes in general. I still admire what the great can do, but there's no idolizing left for me.

The double-whammy with Puckett has been that even just viewing him as a baseball player, advanced statistics have taken a mighty bite out of his accomplishments. Not only was he not as lovable a man as he appeared, he also wasn't quite as great a player.

Growing up isn't always much fun.