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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Reasons to Love the A’s, Chapters Next

Uploaded: Sep 24, 2017

Let’s get the baseball stuff out of the way first – any regulars will know what’s coming.

1 – there’s the new stadium prospect – I don’t really mind the cavernous old concrete parking structure of a Coliseum, especially since it makes an A’s ticket the best bargain in pro sports. But the team is now handling the coming of new digs really well, and the idea of a more intimate, uniquely A’s park that celebrates the team’s rich history without gimmicks like Houston’s lumpy centerfield is exciting (the Raiders leave us with enough unsightly, late-season lumps already, to say nothing of their wretched Mt. Davis). Remind me of this paragraph when season ticket prices inevitably sky-rocket.

2 – They’ve won thirteen of their last sixteen tilts (14/17 after Sunday's sweep), playing better baseball on both ends of each inning. The kids they’ve acquired are fun to watch, with budding stars on the infield and out. Cynics will opine that those players will be in New York, Boston and LA before the new stadium is habitable. I have hope, though, that the stadium timeline is conservative, and the expressed commitment to hold this group together is real. Optimism is, after all, a pre-requisite to A’s fandom.

And 3 – I loves me some Bruce Maxwell, my new favorite Athletic. In case you’ve been obsessing over natural disasters, he is the first player in Major League Baseball to register a protest of racism, as it was recently expressed and supported at the highest level of the national government. He knelt, hand over heart, during the playing of the national anthem last evening. It was a deeply-felt, gutsy thing to do – especially knowing all the consequences that have followed others, and will now follow him.

I’ve written before about the odd, accidental tradition of playing the anthem, at all, at sports events. These are business gatherings, after all, having more to do with money and fandom than civics. It’s undeniably a feel-good moment for most, but it frankly has more to do with the leagues trying to wrap themselves in the flag than in a true celebration of America, the Idea.

And America, the Imperfect, means different things to you and me, depending on our circumstances. This country has chosen to have a glass – a promise of equal access to its Dream and the guaranties contained in the Bill of Rights. For some, that glass is brimming past overfull; for others, it’s only damp – and systemically so. That some folks might choose a public forum to protest for more water in our glass is as American as our First Amendment in that Bill of Rights. We are all seeking a more perfect union, a fuller glass, after all.

Here is Maxwell’s statement to the press, sincere and eloquent. It’s brief – you might want to listen before presuming to know what his protest means to him.

What’s also impressive is how he went about it – he spoke with both management and his teammates about his plans and purpose. Some have agreed on the merits, others maybe not so much. But they reflected on his sincerity and, yes, his patriotism, and to a man they supported his right to express his opposition to the racism to which he and his family have been subjected. They stood with him as he exercised the single most fundamental and basic American privilege.

I had the good fortune to sit next to Bruce’s dad at a Spring Training game in Arizona this past spring. We talked about his son; and Dad, a former military man living in Alabama, spoke with paternal pride. But it was not about Bruce’s swing or his pitch-blocking techniques – he was proud of his son as a thoughtful and caring young man, who’s also good at baseball. I’ll wager he’s extra proud of that young man today – me, too.

I’ve seen a spectrum of opinions expressed today about Maxwell’s actions, and the firestorm that erupted out of the president’s incendiary, if also incontinent earlier remarks. I have a few thoughts about several objections.

“Why do ‘they’ have to choose sports events?” If I may paraphrase, this is really “why must you make me think, or be uncomfortable?” The easy answer is that it’s an effective forum, with lots of people to bear witness. But what duty does anyone have to keep you comfortable – to make it so you don’t have to think? It’s enough that they perform for your pleasure – nobody’s required to soothe your fragile sensibilities simultaneously.

“These athletes should be grateful for their blessings – they are pampered and spoiled.” These athletes have risen to the highest heights in a brutally competitive market for their talents. It’s nearly infinitely more competitive than the market for your services or mine. They perform at considerable risk of a truncated career, either from injury, eroding skills or just bad luck. In other words, they earn their money, just as you do, in a free market. Unless you’ll begrudge your’s or your senior management’s compensation plan, just celebrate that free market in which these super-skilled, uber-risk-takers temporarily thrive.

“’They’ are privileged to live here – go somewhere else if you don’t like it.” We are ALL privileged as Americans. Our greatest privilege among many is the right to speak out, without fear of government censorship. Why would you deny ANYone the right to exercise that very most American of privileges? You have the same privilege. Feel free to use it to boycott, or to say that everything’s swimmingly wonderful and beyond improvement. You’d be wrong in my view, but the stage is equally yours.

“’They’ should do something else – feed the hungry, heal the sick, anything.” First, how do you know they don’t? And second, please don’t suggest that you are in a position to be telling others what to do – at all, and especially if you’re not doing them yourself. And you’re probably not.

“Bruce Maxwell isn’t that great of a player.” I haven’t read the First Amendment in a while – what does it say about the minimum batting average that a player must attain before expressing an opinion? His rookie status and just-okay stats actually add to his risk of speaking out – to me, they make it the more brave and mature-beyond-his-years that he chose this route. Again, good on ya, Bruce.

Finally, I’ve put several ‘theys’ in quotes above, because I do believe there’s ‘othering’ going on here – much of it related to race. At minimum, there’s cause for introspection, here. In your heart-of-hearts, would you see this differently if ‘they’ were a ‘we’ – someone more like you? Or if it was a cause that affected you, directly? Conversely, would I be supportive if Maxwell was protesting to … I dunno … repeal and replace the ACA? I’d like to believe I would, but it’s food for thought. So, one more time – thanks, Bruce!

Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 8:03 am

Tom, Tom, Tom, where do I start?

Your column started off so well. I am also a long time A's fan, loyal despite them unloading Donaldson, Cespedes, Reddick, Sonny, and my favorite, Stephen Vogt(I believe in Stephen Vogt!). I completely understand the small market problems, and the inability to compete with big market teams when you only draw 12,000 a people a game. However, I really like our new Team President, and his desire to include the fans in important decisions, like which of the three new ball parks to consider. I like his marketing, his enthusiasm, his inclusion, and his pride in Oakland(despite how the city leaders for years have treated the A's like the stepchild of the family while swooning over the Warriors and the Raiders) The new players are young, exciting, and seem to have great team chemistry, so I am part of the glass is half full. Olson, Chapman, Healy, not a law firm, but all potential all-stars, who I hope the A's will keep in Oakland. If we only had some quality pitchers, look out Astro's!

But Tom, your column came off the wheels when you start making Maxwell a Saint for his kneel during our anthem. Vogt was a true leader, limited physical skills, but the first in the batting cage and last out every time, who worked overtime with the pitchers, and had a great sense of humor. Vogt was a true inspirational leader, and that is very important when you are the catcher, the manager on the field. His fellow teammates voted him the most inspirational, and he kept the team unified, together, during tough times. He was selected an All-star twice by the All-star managers because they knew what a special guy he was, and how he got along with everyone, despite their different upbringings, religions, races, political views. He grew up in little Visalia, CA, and learned how to be a unifier and get along well with others. God bless Stephen Vogt.

Now, lets talk about Maxwell. He is barely hitting over .240, despite scouts always raving about his natural physical skills. He is responsible for working and managing the pitching staff, and we see how poorly the A's pitchers have done since Vogt left. Kuiper and Shooty Babbitt have inferred several times that the A's may be looking to acquire a new catcher in the offseason as Maxwell has been a disappointment. There is a good chance he may be sent back to AAA. So what does Maxwell do, he takes a knee during the Anthem. Why? People forget that when Kapernick was the starting QB for the niners he never took a knee. It was only when he was deemed a backup, and was not playing, that suddenly he started the knee business. He wanted an excuse if the 49ers cut him, it was his political views, not his playing. It has also been well publicized that his Kapernick is not the brightest guy in the world, and his girlfriend, a nationally known D.J with far left political views, has been pushing him to get political.
Remember, Kapernick did not even vote in the last election!

Now, as to Maxwell, he may be pulling a Kapernick, trying to save his job, as if the A's send him to AAA or cut him, it would look like it was due to his political views, not his playing. Also, how brave is it to take a knee in Oakland, one of the most far left political cities in the country. You want to be brave, take a knee in Houston, or Dalllas, that is brave.

I don't care about Maxwell's political views. I care that he is not Stephen Vogt, a true leader, a true unifier, who put team first. Maxwell's antics look like he is putting himself first.

Baseball players are a lot different from NBA players or NFl players, and there a lot of them who like country music, trucks, support law enforcement and the military, and vote Republican. Maxwell is causing a distraction in the A's locker room, as his antics will make those who support law enforcement, the flag, and the military, uncomfortable. It use to be the biggest problem in the A's locker room was the plumbing, now it is Bruce Maxwell. He is no hero. He is entitled to his political views, I have no problem with that. But unlike Stephen Vogt, Maxwell is causing distractions, factions, and not unifying the team.

Now, more than ever, I believe in Stephen Vogt!

Maxwell may be doing a Kapernick, trying to


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 8:33 am

@American :"I don't care about Maxwell's political views. I care that he is not Stephen Vogt, a true leader, a true unifier, who put team first. Maxwell's antics look like he is putting himself first."

Hmmmm. Interesting how you throw out the words "unifier" and "leader" as words of great importance. We all know who the elephant in the room is. The guy who got this massive protest wave going by not exhibiting moral leadership when the country needed it most at Charlottesville. The guy who has has failed to even attempt to unify this country, instead choosing to pander to his base and reject those outside his base at every opportunity. A guy who consistently and constantly has put his own interests first and only his own interests first throughout his life, The guy who throws gasoline, not water, onto every little disagreement flare-up and then blames others for the resulting inferno. Such are the times that we now live in.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 9:22 am

Sam: I am sick of Trump, sick of Pelosi, sick of Chuck Schumer, sick of Paul Ryan, and sick of politics, and sick of people like you who ONLY want to talk politics 24-7. I love baseball, the strategy, the tradition, the execution of the hit and run, the shift, and the excitement of a perfect double play. Baseball serves as a great escape from the political drama and bad manners on both sides of the aisle. Having a beer at end of day and listening to Ray Fossee and Kuiper do the A's play by play is relaxing, and until recently free of politics. Thanks to Maxwell now even baseball has to be about politics. Sad.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:12 am

@American

Wasn't me or Pelosi or Chuck Schumer or Paul Ryan or Maxwell who set fire to this movement. You know who set fire to this movement.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Karl Aitken, a resident of Pleasanton Valley,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:16 am

Free Speech goes both ways - when you like what is being said and when you don't like what is being said. That's what makes our country unique and many times a challenge to live in.

Maybe they should just stop singing the anthem at the start of games - baseball, NFL, NHL, NCAA, etc. - the games are more about big business and money now. I'm not sure it even applies anymore....


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Tom, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:36 am

Now that the As are part of the kneeling movement I will no longer patronize them. I do not deny the players rights but I do get to decide where I spend my money and they are now off the list.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Am: your posts remind me of Millie's assessment of Nuke Laloosh's various skills, in the classic baseball movie Bull Durham: you're "sorta all over the place."

First, admiring Maxwell does not disparage Vogt, a great guy who'll make a lot more of a living in the broadcast booth than on the field (still playing for the vet minimum). But let's get real - he's 32 and was hitting .217 when he left the A's. Maxwell's a rookie, hitting .244 in his first season (better than Chapman's average, fwiw) and learning the craft as part of the A's youth movement. That's also a bunch better than the A's other two incumbent catchers. Makes sense to me.

You mention Vogt's work ethic as a subtle slam at Maxwell, but I see No evidence that he's a slacker, as you imply. If you're making assumptions about him, you might want to examine their bases.

Further, the catcher relays the manager's pitch selection, but he doesn't throw the pitches. The A's do need pitching for the future, and their young guys are learning, along with Bruce. Mengden and Cotton look better recently - who's fault is that?

You go on to disparage Maxwell's actions by suggesting this gives him job security??! Ask Kaepernick about his job security! As a rookie, Bruce has taken this step at real career peril - and he knows it. More power to him. I also wonder whether he might have a few knock-down pitches headed his way as a result - that possibility also had to weigh into his decision. I don't know what it's like to stare a 95-mph fastball in the face - but I know it's a gutsy move to do what you think is right, knowing you might provoke one as a result.

You also say why you like baseball - none of those things is affected by Maxwell's act of conscience. Blaming him for the current furor asks him to back down when 'some somebody else' has blatantly stuck a middle finger in his eye and called him an SOB. If you know baseball, you also know that that kind of bullying aggression gets answered. And it did. As I wrote in the blog, it's not his job to insulate you from thinking - if you don't like it, exercise your constitutional right to look somewhere else.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Another perspective, from one of those football SOBs: Web Link

"It should go without saying that I love my country and I'm proud to be an American. But, to quote James Baldwin, “exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.'"


 +  Like this comment
Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Tom: Did you read Melvin's comments? Melvin is known as a players manager, and as a Cal guy he is no right winger. In usual Melvin nice guy fashion, he very politely questions the wisdom of a rookie catcher who is barely playing well enough to stay in the show from being a lightening rod in a political firestorm.

Tom, do you think Maxwell has unified the team, helped them focus on the game, and pulling and trusting each other, or have his actions caused a distraction, divisions on a young team? The catcher is the manager on the field, the leader, who has to work and get along with everyone. There are more catchers that are later managers than any other position. You give far to little importance to the catcher's role in working and developing the pitching staff, how to calm them down, how to frame the pitch, how to handle the pitcher and when he shakes off the requested pitch. They call it the battery for a reason, they need to be unified and working together as one unit, without distractions.

I love John Wooden's book The Essential Wooden, about leadership and team unity that applies as much to a law firm, a business, or a sports team. He had to deal with Bill Walton's extreme political views and the distractions it caused the team, and even Walton later admitted Wooden was right in teaching Walton about proper time, place, and manner in expressing his political views. If Maxwell wants to join BLM, donate money to political causes he believes in, and when not wearing an A's uniform go march and protest, God bless him. But wearing an A's uniform and refusing to stand during the national anthem is not the right time, place, or manner, and is a distraction to his teammates, his coaches, and to fans like me who turn to baseball to avoid the never ending political turmoil we live in.

Finally, as to Kapernick, it is his own fault he is not in the NFL. His skills are below average, and he is a huge distraction. If you were headhunting an attorney with below average skills who also was a huge distraction at the firm with his outspoken politics, how many firms would hire him? It is documented from all-pro Ray Lewis that the Ravens were set to sign him this year when Kapernick'a girlfriend tweated about their owner having slave chains on players, so of course the team said no thanks to the distractions he brings. Remember, First Amendment applies to Government limitation, not private business. Kapernick has right to say and do what he wants, just like private owners have right not hire someone who brings more problems than talents.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Am: the A's are undefeated since Maxwell's gesture - EVery time he kneels, they win! What's not to like in that - seems pretty unified to me. ;-)


 +  Like this comment
Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 1:19 pm

I just liked a Tom comment, is Hell freezing over! Beating up on the Phillies and Rangers is one thing. If they beat Cleveland I will wear a Maxwell jersey!


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Actually, Am, the A's swept the Indians this season at the Coliseum, coming out of the All-Star break. Maxwell caught the first two games. Web Link

So, what size jersey?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 25, 2017 at 3:53 pm

The last time I wore a Maxwell jersey was Celtic great Cornbread Maxwell, but I guess I am showing my age.

FYI in the win yesterday, Bruce Maxwell did not play, and catcher Phegley went 2 for 3, and did a masterful job in managing the pitching staff that only gave up one earned run.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:21 am

I think one thing we both agree on is Trump should have never stirred this pot up, as the kneel was actually dying off, with almost no players taking a knee during our anthem. When Trump stirred it up, it came back, with a full head of steam. He then made it much worse by calling out athletes, who by nature tend to rally and support their teammates, no matter what the issue. Trump then made it worse again by telling people to boycott football, so even those players and owners who supported him and donated money to his campaign, came to the support of the kneelers. The issue then became Trump vs professional athletes, rather than whether kneeling during out national anthem was disrespect to the military and those who have fought and died for the symbol of the flag.

I again find the wisdom in John Wooden's advice to Bill Walton, to consider the proper time, place, and manner for expressing his political views. Allegedly, the kneel started during the anthem as a protest of police brutality toward people of color. If the complaint is police brutality, then why not protest outside of police stations, rather than during our national anthem, which many consider an insult and disrespect to our military and our flag? Sarah Huckabee Sanders(who we both probably agree has the toughest job in America) has brought this point up several times, that if the complaint is police brutality, than why not protest at the source, rather than a secondary outlet, the national anthem, which riles up so many Americans who support our military?

Trump and the athletes who kneel both need to work on their logic skills, and critical analysis, as they both seem to struggle with the difference between "the right" to protest and the "right time, place, and manner" to protest.

FYI, yesterday Bruce Maxwell went 0-3 at the plate, and did a terrible job working and managing the pitching staff who gave up 7 earned runs by the 5th inning, in our loss to the Mariners. I wonder if he will be taking a knee in Nashville next season in AAA?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Tom, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:44 am

I am shocked our fine media was unable to find this study and debate it honestly:
Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Tom, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 26, 2017 at 10:51 am

If we are going to have an honest discussion on race let us use statistical data to lead the discussion. There is much data over several decades that we can use to promote a dicussion and possible solutions. The problem is certain people for certain reasons have already decided they know what the problem is before the data has been reviewed. Why is the media and the left so afreaid to look at ALL of the data?
Perhaps it wont tell a story they want told? I applaud President Trump for calling out the madness here. Its about time.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Sep 26, 2017 at 11:32 am

Pretty good essay on the current controversy in sports by none other than conservative columnist David French of the conservative publication The National Review:

"I Understand Why They Knelt"

"President Trump's call for NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem to be fired was a troubling assault on free speech " and it put the league in an impossible position....."

The National Review: Web Link

------


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Laguna Oaks,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:16 pm

"For some, that glass is brimming past overfull; for others, it's only damp " and systemically so."

--perhaps the blogger will provide his readership with solid evidence to prove this claim?

--perhaps the blogger can provide the evidence of systemic police brutality as it pertains to the black community while comparing that to other races?

--perhaps the blogger will provide his readership with crime statistics for black on black crime, black on white, white on white and white on black crime?

--perhaps the blogger will provide systemic racism that was not driven by government policy in the mortgage mess of 2008?

--perhaps the blogger can explain why black families before the welfare system had 75% intact families and now stands at 30% and how that ties into systematic rascism that was NOT governmental in its inception?

We won't hold our collective breath.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Laguna Oaks,
on Sep 27, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Sam,

I'll take your conservative white guys opinion and raise you one black Americans opinion: Web Link

Trigger warning for you sensitive white leftists. This is one man who doesn't want to be controlled by your identity politics.

I can cherry pick all day Sam.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Sep 28, 2017 at 7:37 am

@Resident

Please, I'm not going to be convinced by some guy mouthing off on a YouTube video. I think that that's a pretty pathetic form of evidence. If the guy wants to take the time and effort to collect and organize his thoughts and put them down in a carefully constructed essay (as David French did) then I'll be happy to read it and consider it.

Oh, and BTW, I'm not the one playing identity politics. You are. It never even crossed my mind until you mentioned it that David French happens to be white or that the validity of one's opinions on this matter is determined by the color of one's skin rather than by the logical arguments that the person makes. Hope that you didn't spend a lot of time searching for a black guy on YouTube who happens to support your views because your attempt at playing the "identity politics" game was pretty much of a wasted effort.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 29, 2017 at 6:52 am

The resident will have to accept two realities: google is HIS friend, too, and my grand daughter trumps his research project, anyway. See ya later.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Laguna Oaks,
on Sep 29, 2017 at 8:00 am

Who are you kidding, I knew you wouldn't back up your claim.

Enjoy your grand daughter.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Sep 30, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Over the last five years or so, I have noticed that there is a large number of Giants fans in the east bay. I wander, are there more Giants fans in the east bay then there are A's fans?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 1, 2017 at 8:30 am

Last night on Saturday Night Live the African-American Weekend Update host actually called President Trump a " bitch" and a " cracker". If a white person called President Obama the " N" word on tv, he would be fired, the FCC would investigate, and corporate sponsors would immediately feel need to publically announce they were pulling their ads. We now live in a world where free speech is based on race: African Americans can literally say or do anything but society accepts it as free speech and expression, but if you are white the same so called rights do not exist. We see this now on college campuses where so called free speech campuses like Berkeley refuse to allow white speakers if they disagree with their political views. It is not brave to take a knee during the anthem if you are African-American, as society will make you a hero and saint. What is brave is being a white guy with a Trump bumpersticker on your car. Let the vandalism and hate toward you begin. Free speech is now qualified by race.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 3, 2017 at 7:32 am

Tom: Thanks for the link to the Doolittle article. I always admired Doolittle for overcoming a career ending injury as a hitter and actually turning himself into a pitcher, and also knew about his efforts to help veterans which meant a lot to me. He is a bright guy, from University of Virginia. However, during the election he made it clear he was very anti-Trump and very pro-Hilary, and I wonder how much of his views on Maxwell are really based on consciously or subconsciously sticking it to Trump. Unfortunately, when Trump stirred this issue up again, and took on athletes, he made the issue more of athletes and people against Trump, rather than whether it was proper place, time, and manner to protest alleged police brutality during our National Anthem. Also, Maxwell was rarely the catcher when Doolittle came in as closer in the 9th inning, it was always Vogt or Phegley, so Maxwell did not work Doolittle on the mound.

Have you seen any polls on actual military people as to their opinions on whether they support athletes and others taking a knee during our National Anthem? I have not, but my gut feeling tells me those same people Doolittle is trying to help as veterans probably agree with me on this issue.


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