Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bradley and Lebefvre

Milton Bradley was miffed:
Milton Bradley stormed out of the Texas Rangers clubhouse after an 11-5 victory Wednesday night over Kansas City and bounded up four flights of stairs looking for Royals television announcer Ryan Lefebvre. Bradley, who was the designated hitter, heard what he considered derogative remarks made by Lefebvre on a TV in the Rangers clubhouse.

General manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington were close behind and intercepted Bradley before he reached Lefebvre.

“I don’t want to get necessarily into the details,” Daniels said. “He was upset. Someone who doesn’t know him was passing judgment on TV. It was obvious he was hurt by the comments.”
According to the article, Bradley was upset about Lefebvre's comments about Bradley's past anger-management issues. Lefebvre's explanation:
It was a conversation about how Josh Hamilton has turned his life around and has been accountable for his mistakes. Right now, it seems like the baseball world and fans are rooting for him. It doesn’t seem like Milton Bradley has done the same thing in his life . . . We weren’t tearing up Milton Bradley. I told [Washington and Daniels] this wasn’t a Milton Bradley rip session, but just based on the pictures we’ve seen in this series of him walking to the dugout all the way to right field, dropping his bat, making gestures to the fans in right field and above the dugout and taunting them. He’s the only person in baseball I know that does that type of stuff.
I don't have that much of a problem someone ripping Bradley for his attitude. Sure, there are better, more current things to talk about with respect to Bradley -- like his fabulous performance so far this year and quick recovery from last season's ACL tear -- but he's a big boy and whether he likes it or not, he's opened himself up to this kind of thing over the course of his career and he should expect it.

What I do not like, however, is the moral equivalency that Lebefvre appears to be drawing between Hamilton and Bradley. Milton Bradely's "mistakes" involve being a prickly personality and, on occasion, a bad teammate. Josh Hamilton's "mistakes" involve a serious cocaine addiction that derailed his career and put his life at risk. To suggest, as Lebefvre appears to be doing, that Bradley needs to make the same kinds of adjustments in his life -- to "turn his life around" the way Hamilton had to -- is a really stupid and unfair thing to say.

It also ignores that fact that, this season anyway, Bradley has been a model citizen. As recently as last Friday, Bradley was quoted thusly upon being asked about possibly making the All-Star team:
If I somehow miraculously made it to the All-Star Game, I would be floored. I'd really be totally humbled by that. I'm just happy right now to play, to produce and to be with a good group of guys.
Clearly, the man needs to be more like Josh Hamilton.


Peter said...

When Milton Bradley joined the Rangers this spring, he explained to Rich Rice, the director of media relations, that he intended to keep a low profile with Texas. He just wanted to leave the past in the past, and he didn't feel the need or the desire to be a headline player again.


He doesn't talk about that anymore. "I just wanted to play baseball," Bradley said quietly the other day.

-- Buster Olney, 6/8/08 about timing...

Peter said...

I agree that the remarks by Lefebvre seem lazy in that they replay the same old story line, regardless of what had actually happened to that point in this season, but the argument that Bradley's changed kind of blows up in everyone's faces when he reacts the same way he always would have. So, yeah, he had a legitimate beef...until he went up there and proved the guy right.

I also want to add that I see a lack of nuance on all sides in this Josh Hamilton story. I understand not wanting to idolize the guy, but is the only other option to make it sound like he's the scum of the earth for being an addict?

Craig Calcaterra said...

Peter -- Don't get me wrong. I agree that Bradley isn't necessarily some transformed guy, and yeah, his reaction was way out of line. No one comes off good here. My guess, though, is that most people are going to point to this as an example of Milton being Milton, and I just wanted to point out that, despite the way he chose to react, the fact that he had a reaction wasn't unjustified.

As for Hamilton: I don't think he's scum and haven't heard anyone saying that. He's obviously willed himself to affect a tremendous turnaround in his life. I just take issue with the moral equivalency thing. Fact is that what Hamilton was into was WAY worse than anything Bradley has ever been a part of.

Peter said...

I definitely understand where you're coming from. I guess I just have a hard time determining exactly how "bad" Hamilton's behavior was versus Bradley's (or anyone else's). To me, he's just another addict doing what addicts do (use drugs, wreck their lives, cause collateral damage). Their mistakes are just so incomparable, to the point where I have a really hard time saying "Hamilton is X times worse than Bradley".

...which is really a long-winded way of me saying that my conclusion is the same: Lefebvre's assertion that Bradley needs to change his life like Hamilton is ridiculous and lazy.

christopher said...

I agree with peter, that their mistakes are not only not equivalent, they are incomparable. And i think that's what bothered me a bit about this post, that you did try to compare them, saying that not only were they not equivalent, what hamilton was into was way worse than what bradley [has done].

As always, it comes down to perception. Drug abuse is seen as an addiction, rage is seen as a character flaw. But my guess is that for Bradley’s ‘character flaw’ is an addiction; it’s wired in his brain chemistry. Once an addict, always an addict, but Hamilton gets some measure of absolution of past sins for keeping clean, and we assume he won’t relapse, while people assume Bradley is going to blow up again. It’s so hard to tell when someone might have a relapse.

And then, of course, there’s the race thing.

Daniel said...

None of us should judge either of these guys, but it seems like the consequences of Hamilton's transgressions (putting his life at risk) are worse than Bradley's have been. So I don't think Craig was necessarily wrong in making that comparison.

I, like the rest of you, think Lefebvre could have made the comments about Bradley without Hamilton entering into it.

Then there's the race issue, which really shouldn't be ignored. Keith Law touched on it yesterday in his chat on tWWL. I just don't know how to begin discussing that without the opening the proverbial can of worms.

Craig Calcaterra said...

I like worms. Let it fly. I'll start:

For as far as we have come as a society, there is still a fear and misunderstanding about the "Angry Black Man," and every Black athlete who has ever done anything other than thank god and say "yes, sir" has suffered to some degree because of it.

I don't have the list handy now, but Milton Bradley's history of jackassery -- and it's considerable -- is probably no worse than that of a lot of other guys, yet he, for some reason, is labeled a malcontent and a problem and someone who should be scolded whether he's doing anything to deserve the scolding or not.

Why is that? Why doesn't anyone talk about all of the stuff Brett Myers should be doing to turn his life around? Me view: it's not some conscious "I hate him because he's black so I am going to be unfair to him" thing, but it is racial, and it has to do with what we perceive about the character predisopositions of whites vs. blacks. The former "loose control" on occasion. The latter are "out of control." It's a pretty ugly thing.

Two notes before everyone else lets fly:

1. Let's all agree that Bradley shouldn't have rushed the booth and, more generally, that he's no saint. Never has been, and I don't want anyone to think that I think he has; and

2. Keep it civil and intellectual.

Mr Lomez said...

Ballsy. It's refreshing that this conversation is even taking place.

I'm gonna argue that Milton Bradley IS NOT suffering any kind of racial discrimination.

First, the idea that "Bradley is no worse than a lot of other guys" is misleading. What is a lot? At most there are a handful of guys who blow-up on the baseball field with Bradley's regularity. Julian Tavarez comes to mind. But really, objectively, Bradley is in a class by himself. The Eric Wedge yelling matches, the ball throwing in Dodger Stadium, the bottle incident in Dodger stadium, the ACL tear in San Diego, etc. No matter who's making the judgment, Bradley is a lock for the crazy hall-of-fame.

Additionally, what Bradley's incidents have in common that separates his case from guys like Brett Myers or Scott Spiezio say, is that Bradleys transgressions all took place on the field, in front of the cameras, to be aired and re-aired on every sports highlight show in the country. The breadth of the audience to which Bradley's craziness has been exposed, coupled with the power of video footage to cement those events in the baseball watching audience, amplify our collective perception of Bradley for reasons that have nothing to do with race.

Additionally, that Brett Myers (he does seem like the best counterpoint here) has not been the subject of equal criticism is just not true in my experience. While broadcasters may not talk about it much (how often to broadcasters talk about people's personal lives regardless of race?), in the blogosphere, at least, Myers is a universally hated man. Who is giving this guy a free pass? He is incessantly villainized and considered a complete asshole by everyone I've ever talked to about it.

Lastly, Bradley is unique among baseball's crazy-folk because of his insane potential as a player. Bradley's talent obviously draws attention to him and makes the whole situation kind of tragic, and therefore interesting. It's the same kind of thing we see with Chad Johnson or Ron Artest, it doesn't matter that they're black, it frustrates people to see them act the way they do because they are throwing away some much natural talent. The fact is, if these guys would ever get there heads on straight (Bradley's done it up til now this season) they could be truly amazing players. That's the thing that gets me, anyway.

Peter said...

One of the biggest obstacles in this discussion is that it's hard to point to a white player and say "See, he was just as bad as Bradley but was treated differently." The fact that it's so difficult to come up with white analogs (or anything even close) for guys like Bradley and Gary Sheffield really says it all.

Consider Brett Myers and Elijah Dukes, two players whose transgressions are roughly comparable (Myers hit his wife in public, Dukes threatened to kill his wife). A year later, the world has largely forgotten Myers' crime, while Dukes is pretty much destined to be Milton Bradley, Part II.

Daniel said...

What about Scott Olsen? Amy Nelson recently did an article for ESPN ( about some of his issues. I follow baseball pretty closely, but I odn't remember hearing about Olsen's issues in the first place. Now we have a story that basically pushes all that behind him. So not only have Olsen’s issues been less publicized than Bradley's, but he gets a semi-glowing character reference even though he admits that “he hasn’t changed.” Bradley has been pretty low key this year, but he hasn’t had any of these kinds of things written about him.

I think this is a good example of the pretty consistent, but subtle, way the media plays up the black hothead vs white “isolated incident” paradigm. There’s the Paul Molitor vs Tim Raines debate (essentially drug abuse by both these guys has been handled very differently). What would the reaction be if Milton Bradley called out his teammates the way Billy Wagner has called out the Mets? I can almost guarantee the media slant on those would be much different.

Blogs have done a better job at calling out some of the MSM for its handling of the race issue. But the MSM still has much broader influence than most blogs and so these issues remain prevalent. Another point is that a lot of media outlets (including blogs) have taken the color blindness approach, which is great in theory, but lousy in practice. Yes, everyone SHOULD get treated the same regardless of skin color or background, but that is not reality. Elijah Dukes, Delmon Young, Milton Bradley – all labeled as troublemakers because of their actions, but that label completely ignores the different treatment, personal and systemic, they’ve received their entire lives because they are black men. I absolutely believe that these men should be held responsible for their actions, but their should be at least some accompanying discussion of the environment they’ve lived in that has shaped their actions. Being color blind is getting to be as big a problem as the subtle racist undertones that pervade media.

Daniel said...

Ugh, misspelled "don't" and I blew the homonym "their" at the end (should have been "there"). I will hang my head in shame.

Craig Calcaterra said...

You white boys are always bad about those kinds of grammatical errors. Man.

melodyjbf said...

Bradley seems extreme by any measure-- considering the domestic violence issues coupled with the repeated on-field problems. Even the fact that he had to be restrained (from attacking an umpire) to the point that he was injured.

I don't argue that this may be in part a product of his experience living with racism, but as other have said, one still needs to take responsibility for one's own actions.

One big difference between Hamilton and Bradley that jumps out at me is that a drug addiction primarily causes harm to oneself, while violence primarily causes harm to others (a torn ACL notwithstanding). As a former domestic violence counselor, it's hard to ignore that significant difference.

Anonymous said...

I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue that drug abusers only damage their own lives. Just ask any of the family members of drug abusers how much their lives were impacted. I don't really think the two transgressions can be compared as to which is worse than the other.

As for the race issue, I hadn't really thought about it, but in retrospect I think it is a valid point. Looking at who gets labeled as "malcontents" in baseball, you have Bradley, Dukes, Sheffield, Milledge, etc. Players like Youkilis, who apparently trashes the dugout after bad at-bats, don't get the same rap (that's just a current recent example).

The Molitor-Raines example was a good one, since it lets us look how things are viewed through the lens of history. And what we see is that Molitor is in the Hall of Fame, and Raines is (probably unjustly) not.

William said...

I think there is a tinge of race behind how Bradley is depicted. Having said that, I don't agree that his actions should be qualified by his experiences as a black man. Instead, he should be justifiably criticized when he deserves it. In this case, it seems as if Bradley was a victim of an overblown reputation, which in part may be fueled by subtle racism.

Also, I keep reading about how Bradley "stormed", "charged" and "exploded" up four flights of stairs. Well, did anyone actually see this happen? Or, is the description being embellished to fit the story? What if Bradley simply wanted to confront Lefebvre with a statement: "Hi, I am Milton Bradley. The man you don't know, but whom you feel so comfortable condemning on TV"? If so, I have no problem with that response.

Paul said...

Am I the only one who recalls Milton Bradley's multiple arrests? Didn't he run from the police at 120 mph and have a gun in the car? Oh, I guess that was a racial thing.

Ryan was making a distinction between two guys who have experienced some problems, which have affected their lives and their careers. One of them is clearly on the right path and conducting himself accordingly. The other may have his life in order, as he talks about raising his kids, etc. And he talks a good game about "just wanting to play ball," but he isn't showing it. That's what Ryan was talking about. Milton got mad because somebody called BS on him. And so he proved Ryan's point.

Responding about Scott Olson also, there was plenty of coverage of his incident last season. I remember it vividly. The guy has had a bad attitude for a long time and he should have to prove himself. Why doesn't Milton Bradley have to prove himself? Is it racist to tell a black man he has to prove himself the same way a white man who seeks redemption needs to? And if so, how does a black man ever acquire redemption? What an idiotic double standard.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Paul --

No one is suggesting that Bradley should be held to a different, lower standard than anyone else. When he's a jackass, he's a jackass and he should be called out on it. Prior to Ryan's comments, however, what exactly was Bradley doing that made him deserving of such scorn? What showed he needed to "show more?" or "straighten his life out"? That arrest you mention was three years ago. When does he stop paying for that?

Until the other night, Bradley has been a model citizen this year. He has praised his teammates. He's playing at the highest level he's ever played. At what point does he get credit for that instead of scorn for the things he did when he was younger?

Hawerchuk said...

Google "nhl player anger management problem". Virtually every link was about Chris Simon. In a league full of guys who are alcoholics, fight (both on and off the ice), drive drunk all the time, only player is generally seen as having an anger management problem, *and* he's also one of a very small number of NHL players who are not white.

White players in any sport get a pass on egregious behavior.

Dunston said...

Paul - you may be the only one who remembers this. I tried googling "Milton Bradley arrested" and saw the incident in Ohio over Thanksgiving in 2004, but that's about it. Any links to the gun arrest?

To me, this feels a lot like the Donovan McNabb/Rush Limbaugh debate from a few years ago. If you believe that an unconscious racism can permeate a society, then there's lots of fertile ground here. If you don't think racism is an issue anymore, then there's not much to discuss.

As for the debate that you can't equate drug addiction with MB's issues, let's not forget that it was Lebefvre who made that tricky comparison in the first place.

Paul said...

So Milton's legal trouble was three years ago. Does that mean it didn't happen? Hamilton got clean three years ago also. I guess that means Ryan shouldn't have said anything about either situation.

As for the comparison to Rush Limbaugh. Um, Ryan didn't even insinuate anything about race here - you all did. Nice try.

Here is Ryan's explanation for his comments: "I told [Washington and Daniels] this wasn’t a Milton Bradley rip session, but just based on the pictures we’ve seen in this series of him walking to the dugout all the way to right field, dropping his bat, making gestures to the fans in right field and above the dugout and taunting them. He’s the only person in baseball I know that does that type of stuff."

Are you telling me that the behavior Ryan is describing did not happen? Or that contrary to his assertion, lots of (white) players do the same thing and don't get called on it? No, you're not becuase you can't. And that's why you are applying a different standard. Actually, what you're doing is saying there is no standard. You can have no standards if you want to assuage your white guilt. I am under no such obligation.

You can call me whatever you want, but you don't know a damn thing about me. I'd wager that half your "subtle racism" is people reacting to being called racists by self-righteous people who don't know them from Adam.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Lighten up, Paul. No one has called you anything, nor will they. This is a nice place, and anyone who attacks anyone else's person, as opposed to their arguments, isn't welcome.

I think you're misinterpreting my original point. I'm not suggestint that anyone should give Bradley a pass. I'm not suggesting that anyone should give Hamilton a pass. If I adhered to a policy of zero criticism, this blog would have died in the crib. While I disagree that Bradley's walking to his position are worthy of much scorn, it's as fair game as anything.

But my objection to Lefebvre's comments aren't prompted by the mere fact that he criticized Bradley. My objection is that he drew direct moral equivalency between Hamilton and Bradley the breaks down like this:

1. Josh Hamilton had a severe cocaine addiction that almost cost him his career and life, and he made the changes that he had to make to overcome that;

2. Milton Bradley is a prickly personality that doesn't hustle, and he needs to make changes just like Josh Hamilton did.

The only way that makes sense is if Lefebvre believes that Bradley's attitude problem posed as much of a risk to his career as Hamilton's drug problems posed to his.

I appreciate that he tried to talk his way out of it the next day by saying that he was merely talking about Bradley, but that's not how it came up in the broadcast. In Lefebvre's mind, there is something very similar between a guy who nearly wasted his life on illegal drugs and a guy with anger managment issues.

How can that be? What about these two guys makes such a comparrison make any kind of sense? I posit that, whether he's aware of it or not, Lefebvre (like many, many people) find something more serious and threatening and wrong about a black man with an attitude problem than a white man with an attitude problem. If that's true, it doesn't necessarily mean that he's bigoted, but it does flow quite closely with centuries-old beliefs about the anger and emotion of one race as opposed to another.

But maybe I am wrong. I'm wrong all the time. Maybe there are better explanations as to why he believes that Milton Bradley's lack of hustle or anger issues -- which, again, haven't reared their head at all this season -- are as serious and dire as Josh Hamilton's drug problems. If so, what are they?

On the other hand, if you disagree with my premise -- if you do believe that Bradley should be expected to undergo the kind of life examination and transformation as Hamilton has -- please tell me why YOU think Bradley is in such dire straits. Why his issues (again, lack of hustle and gestures) are as bad as nearly killing oneself for coke.

I'd love to hear it.

jjackflash said...

It's disturbing how many people downplay the seriousness of domestic violence and "anger management" problems. Violence is morally wrong; using drugs is not. Bradley's transgressions are far worse than Hamilton's, and that's why it's an apt comparison. Bradley just doesn't get it, and this latest incident is just another chapter in him being unable to control himself. Will people like Craig Calcaterra still be minimizing his deeds and making excuses for him when he kills or seriously maims someone?

Craig Calcaterra said...

Who the hell is making excuses for Milton Bradley? I've said multiple times in this thread alone that he is deserving of criticism for his behavior. His inability to control himself has cost him millions of dollars in his career and has made him a pariah just about everywhere he has been. I don't lose a moment's peace over that. He's made his bed, and I really don't think he's deserving of anyone's sympathy.

But really, "when he kills or seriously maims someone?" What possible basis do you have for suggesting that's even remotely likely? I'll grant you that a quick Google search reveals an alleged dometic violence incident a couple of years ago, but the same can be said for Bobby Cox and Brett Myers and a lot of other guys who aren't referred to as problem cases every time their name comes up. I don't excuse that behavior for a second -- it's reprehensible, and I would have a seriously difficult time being around anyone with that kind of history -- but is anyone suggesting that Bobby Cox poses an imminent risk of "killing or seriously maiming somone?" Do the clubhouse people in Philly have a standing restraining order against Myers? Of course not. I wouldn't let anyone I know have a relationship with someone like that, but we all interact with people with that kind of history every day.

But you know what? If Lefebvre had couched his criticism of Bradley in those terms, I would probably be giving him the benefit of the doubt here. Sure, it would have been outrageously controversial, but it's a stand, and I'd agree with him if he were saying that domestic violence was worse than drugs because, hell, it is.

But that's not what he said. He said that Bradley's lack of hustle and gestures to fans were what he needed to atone for a la Hamilton, and that's just silly.

Walter said...

Jack, let me address two things you said separately here:

"It's disturbing how many people downplay the seriousness of domestic violence and "anger management" problems. Violence is morally wrong; using drugs is not. Bradley's transgressions are far worse than Hamilton's, and that's why it's an apt comparison."

How exactly is taking illegal and dangerous drugs not morally wrong? Drugs, such as coke, are a serious problem in this society. Do you have any idea the number of crimes that are committed each year that are drug related? How many thefts, murders, assaults, etc? Lets be totally honest here a coke head is a much larger detriment to society than a guy that gets angry and doesn't actually hurt someone (which is what Bradley has been for about 3 years).

"Will people like Craig Calcaterra still be minimizing his deeds and making excuses for him when he kills or seriously maims someone?"

No one is minimizing what he has done. Violence is not OK, but to compare some on field antics to a coke addition is ridiculous. Second, Bradley hasn't been reported to have assaulted anyone nor has been arrest in the time frame Hamilton has been clean. So, why does this image of Bradley continue? Because he get aggressive? Ok, well getting aggressive and actually hurting someone (other than yourself) isn't a problem.

Again, Craig is totally right here. I just can buy into the idea that Bradley needs to turn his life around in the way the Hamilton did. Are Bradley's issues life threatening? No, they really aren't. Are they a detriment to society, yeah some, but really compared to a coke head?

Lastly, I believe you have it completely backwards. People in this society down play drug problems to a much higher extent than actual violence (I'm not talking anger here, I'm talking assault, beat your wife, etc). Yes drugs cause a physiological addiction, but it is choice to take drugs before an addiction occurs. And people buying these drugs create vast quantities of income for the absolute scum of the earth. Which directly leads to an absurd amount of crime as these people fight over this income.

Paul said...

Craig, First of all, I'm not associated with the comment about domestic violence. I'm not aware of any such allegiation with respect to Milton and I'm not claiming that he is Elijah Dukes.

First of all, I don't accept your assertion that drawing a moral equivalency between Hamilton's and Bradley's pasts requires me to prove that Milton was any worse off, that what he did was any worse. You know moral equivalencies don't work that way. Morals don't work that way. The term itself is an oxymoron because equivalencies tend to specific behavior or situations. All Ryan was saying is that two guys on the same team have had problems in their past (I hope we can stipulate that running from the police counts as a serious legal transgression). And then, in an obviously inartful manner that live televison and radio tend to exacerabate, noted that Hamilton has carried himself well, on the field an off, and that Ryan's observations are that Bradley is acting like a chump.

A specific questions in response to your points. First, what if Ryan's observations about Bradley have been covered up by the media who follow the team - or other teams' broadcasters don't go there because they don't want people "implying" that they are racists? Has he really been a model citizen, or was he just having an out of character night?

You claiming to know what is in Ryan's mind, a subconscious racist attitude, is absurd.

"... whether he's aware of it or not, Lefebvre (like many, many people) find something more serious and threatening and wrong about a black man with an attitude problem than a white man with an attitude problem. If that's true, it doesn't necessarily mean that he's bigoted, but it does flow quite closely with centuries-old beliefs about the anger and emotion of one race as opposed to another."

This my point that you are not getting. Hamilton has not had an attitude problem. That's why he was singled out as the success story and Milton was singled out as the guy who doesn't get it.

Since we are positing, I posit that Ryan's larger point was simply about maturity. Both players are about the same age, have had problems in their past, and one of them is actually demonstrating for all to see that he has overcome them. The other is still gesturing to fans and showing up the opposition. Milton may have overcome to a much greater degree than Josh, but you sure wouldn't know that from watching him.

I would suggest that perhaps the racialist dynamic at the heart of this string is in Milton's head, and that he is hyper-aware of the golden boy's favorable treatment, which he interprets as subtle racism. And this is where Ryan's point about maturity comes in. Praise for someone else does not equal a slight of you. So he is already feeling slighted, then when an actual comment is made, he explodes. But that's his bad having the chip in the first place.

Walter said...

I want to correct two mistakes:

"Ok, well getting aggressive and *NOT* actually hurting someone (other than yourself) isn't a problem."

"I just can *NOT* buy into the idea that Bradley needs to turn his life around in the way the Hamilton did."

Also, I'd like to quickly add that I'm not commenting on which is worse violence or drugs, but drugs problems get a free pass much more frequently than violence in this country.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Paul -- but aren't you presenting a moving target here? "Bradley ran from cops a few years ago, and now he's loafing and jawing at fans." Those are radically different things. In the former he was out of control and presented a threat. In the latter he's a showboat. How is the latter behavior an example of Bradley not learning from the former? If Josh Hamilton charged the mound tonight and started a brawl, would anyone say "well, looks like Josh didn't really kick coke after all." Of course not. They're two different things that are worlds apart in terms of dynamic and severity.

With Bradley, however, it's all viewed as a single thing. Call him out for loafing and gesturing. Fine. But I'm simply not buying the notion that whatever he's doing now is the same stuff he was doing back when he was with Montreal or Cleveland. He's a difficult guy with problems, but he's not showing anything that suggests that he's on the same vector he was four years ago or whatever.

Walter -- I think drugs is a facts-and-circumstances thing. Jeff Weaver was DFA'd yesterday. He has a reputation (no idea if it's true) as a pothead. I really don't care and no one besides him or his agent probably should either. Bad pitcher, but go smoke your herb in peace.

Not that it's drug-by-drug specific. I am open to the possibility that a given person's drug use is defacto harmless if the harm it causes is only to the user. I don't know enough about Hamilton's case to say for sure, but if he had a family and/or kids during his dark period, then no, it wasn't a victimless crime and it is worthy of scorn on a moral level. If he was simply dumb kid whose behavior truly didn't impact someone else (I doubt this, but let's just say) then I really don't care much beyond the level I care when any player throws a promising career in the toilet.

Cassius Michael said...

Joe Lefebvre is your typical Midwestern good ol' boy. I watch plenty of Royals games on the MLB Package and he clearly ranks in that bottom tier of lazy broadcasters that rarely contributes anything of import to any game he may be covering.

Like it or not, his comments indicate a double standard applied to Hamilton and Bradley's situations and a lack of nuance in understanding the differences between both men - a mistake often made by white people when confronted with a large, oft-angry, black man.

Live with it.

jjackflash said...

Walter: there's nothing inherently immoral about using drugs; it only becomes wrong because of the laws making them illegal, and it cannot seriously be disputed that most of the secondary crime related to the illegal drug trade stems from their illegality.

By contrast, beating people up, being physically aggressive and intentionally hurting other human beings is (I think we all would agree) both morally and legally impermissible.

Bradley has serious anger management problems. That anger manifests itself in physical aggressiveness, and he has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to control himself.

Walter said...

"there's nothing inherently immoral about using drugs; it only becomes wrong because of the laws making them illegal, and it cannot seriously be disputed that most of the secondary crime related to the illegal drug trade stems from their illegality."

Indeed it does stem from their illegality, but they are illegal for good reason. And sense they are illegal, and we all know he crime that stems from this, any drug user is knowingly feeding this crime system, thus the morality issue. Drugs also cause seriously physically harm to an individual, and while you might believe this harm is limited to just one person, you would be wrong. This individual operates in a society and a family, their actions have consequences. All problems with drug use would not go away if we simply make them legal. We'd still have an unnecessarily burdened health care system, we'd have crime committed by individuals while high (ie drunk drivers), we'd have a certain portion of the population that is unable to contribute because they have wasted their body and brain on drugs, etc. Obviously, all these things can be said about legal drugs, and I'm not claiming anyone that drinks alcohol is immoral, however people that drink irresponsibly are being immoral. And these hard core drugs are nearly impossible to do so "responsibly" because of the very powerful physiological effects they have, and the addictions they cause.....This is coming from a libertarian mind you...

You can keep what ever definition of "moral" you want, but drug use (particularly coke, meth and the like) is a huge burden on a society and it is absolutely wrong to use such drugs for the reasons I have outlined.

Craig, I absolutely agree with your last paragraph.

Anonymous said...

Were the roles reversed and Bradley the reforming coke addict and Hamilton the hothead finally having a low-key year, would Lefebvre have made the comment about Bradley or Hamilton or neither? That's the $64,000 "Is This Racially Charged or Not?" question.

Walter said...

I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious "Anonymous."

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your implication that drug use (coke, in this instance), causes violence. The overwhelming majority of people who use cocaine do so without committing violent acts. Do people commit crimes while on cocaine? Of course. But people commit crimes while they're clean and sober, too, and we don't outlaw sobriety.

People without any first-hand experience of these drugs make these kinds of assertions constantly, and in doing so pass severe judgement on people whom they know nothing about.

Did Hamilton's cocaine use hurt his chances at a baseball career? Undoubtedly. Is that morally wrong? That is not so clear. His drug use clearly was important to him, and had some value. That value for a time may have exceeded the value he got from playing baseball. The fact that you and I think that a mindset that values cocaine over baseball is crazy is not sufficient for judging his actions immoral.

If Hamilton committed some crime (and no, i don't count the use) during the time he was a regular cocaine user, we could talk about them. But again, it would be ridiculous to assume that the cocaine caused those crimes.

And one last point. I disagree with your assertion that the moral of an action is determined by it's legality. If taking vitamins was illegal, would you say that their use was immoral? Where is the line drawn? The idea that government can determine the morality of an act should be frightening to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of history.

abbreviatedman said...

Drugs. Oh man. Okay, let's give it a shot. I suck at making arguments be all pretty-like, so you get a numbered list.

1. I think I can accept the argument that drugs being illegal does make them morally wrong. Not because the government is the best arbiter of morals, obviously. But because buying drugs supports a whole system of crime and violence. Now, that system might not be there if drugs were legalized and regulated (as, say, prostitution is in some countries, leading to much better treatment of prostitutes). And maybe drugs should be legalized, and maybe they shouldn't. But drug users are making a moral decision within the current system each time they buy drugs.

2. More importantly, drug use itself is immoral. Putting aside the question of whether it should be illegal to hurt yourself, it's at best irresponsible to take yourself out of society like that. And the cost to friends and family... I have personally lost people in my life to hard drugs, I have been pulled apart inch by inch by my desire to help a friend and my desire to let them make their own decision, I have been constantly let down and made to feel helpless by a friend's drug abuse, and I have felt the gaping holes in my life made by people who won't or can't come back.

To say that drug abuse doesn't affect others is to let everyone know that you have never lost even a moment of someone else's life to it.

FrequentFlyer909 said...

New guy here, saying hi...

All these words about bad stuff MB has done, up to and including ascending the stairs to confront Ryan Lefebvre -- hmmm. Not a single person has posited that MB had any intention other than to engage in an adverse and ugly scene that would only come to grief. But I'm not persuaded that confronting one's (perceived) tormentors face-to-face and setting the record (as one sees it) straight is an indicator of a bad person or somehow inappropriate or dangerous. In fact, a whole lotta actual experts on human behavior (none of whom have weighed in here so far) believe that conflict resolution is good, and that direct discussion is, you know, kinda key to achieving resolution. MB may have even been taking a page from the anger management course he had to take some time back and trying to put it to work, and now it's become all this. The man can't win.

And, if MB had reached him, I'll bet RL would not have been the first baseball broadcaster to be confronted by a player who took exception to how he was characterized on-air.

Anonymous said...

Numbered arguments are great. Don't let anyone tell you they're not pretty. And convenient for counterpoint. So...

1. I assume you're not actually arguing that the illegality of an act guarantees its immorality. If it were illegal to help a drowning man, or to stop a man from beating his wife, would that make such an action immoral? If not, then are you arguing that an act that has a negative effect on society is immoral if it's illegal. I don't think it's that clear-cut. I think it's fairly obvious that the responsibility for external effects lies with those that created them; in this case, society. Society has decided that it is ok with the crime associated with a black market drug trade, and it is there that the responsibility lies.

What about medicinal marijuana? Buying it supports the black market, but it seems ludicrous that using it would be immoral.

2. I have no doubt that drugs have been involved in all kinds of problem. However, i refuse to believe that there is something inherently immoral about, say, snorting cocaine. If I kill someone after snorting cocaine, well, that murder is obviously a crime. And if I knew that cocaine would make me do that, well then I suppose that using it would be immoral. But the thing is, cocaine doesn't make you commit crimes! Nor does heroin, or crystal meth, or weed, or crack.

Am I saying that drug use is amoral? No, not at all. Blowing your kid's college fund on coke is pretty questionable. Driving your child around while you're high is immoral in my book. No argument here. But the drug use itself isn't inherently immoral. Alcohol could easily cause the same problems, and it's perfectly legal.

If I want to do a few lines of coke, in my house, alone, to help me with my songwriting, I am harming no one. And I challenge anyone to convince me that that's an immoral act.

And, since this is a baseball blog, I doubt anyone here has any real idea whether Josh Hamilton drug use was immoral. We shouldn't be judging someone based on an educated guess.

Anonymous said...

Are you telling me that the behavior Ryan is describing did not happen? Or that contrary to his assertion, lots of (white) players do the same thing and don't get called on it? No, you're not becuase you can't. And that's why you are applying a different standard.

Paul, are you kidding me? Paul O'Neill made a career out of the type of antics to which Lefebvre was referring and Paulie's been canonized in NY (and elsewhere, I'm guessing). Kevin Youkilis' teammates reportedly are so sick of his antics that he and Manny had a dugout confrontation. Need more examples?

It's not difficult to see this bias at work. Why are black athletes' "games" or skill sets compared only to those of other black athletes? (Same for white athletes, by the way.) Does Tyler Hansbrough really outwork and "outdesire" Michael Beasely? Or is this just lazy, biased (whether conscious or not) coverage?

I know what my answer is.

abbreviatedman said...


Drug USE is certainly not immoral. Drug ABUSE is, because it hurts you and, more importantly, hurts all of the people around you as they watch you spiral out of control. And of course, it can be a nuanced and difficult difference between the two. I had a friend who tried every drug known to man. She managed to kick each habit, only to go on to another one. She always said that she was having a great time, but that eventually she'd tire of a drug, and she'd simply kick it. Then, finally, she found a drug that kicked her instead. And I'm not sure that she was a drug abuser until she "met" that final drug.

My point is, it's a nuanced issue, but drug abuse tears families and friendships apart. It's wrong, it's reprehensible, and I curse her every day for abusing.

And yeah, of course alcohol does that too. I'm not arguing legalities; that alcohol is legal and pot is not is absurd, as alcohol is a much worse drug for you (though pot is not as harmless as many proponents would have you believe, either). I'm not arguing that alcohol abuse can't be as bad as tobacco abuse, amphetamine abuse, opiate abuse, even caffeine abuse. The legalities don't enter into it, in my mind.

The only place legality does enter into it is that use of illegal drugs does necessitate supporting a system of crime and violence. Now, maybe you believe that legalizing and regulating drugs is the way to change that system, but even if you're fighting to change that system, if you're also supporting it, you're making a moral choice to spend money on a product with blood on it. It doesn't matter who else put the blood on your hands, see: if your choice was part of it getting there, then it was a wrong moral choice, morally.