In this morning's recap, I linked to Derek Zumsteg's takedown of Rick Sutcliffe for his comments about Erin Andrews. If you missed it, the short version is that Sutcliffe, on live TV, went on a horny rant about how Andrews is pretty, that she looks good in a skirt, and that she's a distraction to the ballplayers she covers. In the Bradley post, I noted how it was unfair for for Ryan Lefebvre to slam Milton's character in the way he did.
There's a common thread here, and it's about when you finally have to let something go.
Some of the more contrary discussion about the Andrews thing on the message boards this morning has centered around the notion that, while Sutcliffe was out of line, both ESPN and Andrews know that despite her obvious talents as a reporter, she probably got the job in the first place as a result of her pretty face and her nice figure, so she has to expect that sort of thing. My own comments on Bradley started off with an acknowledgment that he's got a history of being a hothead, so he has to expect the kinds of things he's getting too. There's some truth to both of those statements.
But at some point don't you have to let it go? Don't you have to look past the networks' cynical calculation about what a sideline reporter should look like and appreciate that Andrews is really damn good at her job and obviously works hard? Don't you have to look past Bradley's past behavior and note just how nice -- and nice and quiet until last night -- a season he's having? Prettier faces have flamed out of the reporting business because they simply don't have the chops. Hotter heads have raged their way out of the game because they couldn't mature or couldn't produce.
I understand how human nature works. We don't all have time to spend hours considering the merits of a given person, so we retreat to shorthand. Bradley has an attitude problem. Andrews is a hottie. Chipper is a butcher with the glove. A-Rod isn't clutch. Manny Ramirez is unfocused. Greg Maddux is an intellectual. All of those things either continue to have a core of truth or were true at one time, but these kinds of thumbnail sketches have a shelf life. Chipper's defense is actually a lot better than it used to be and probably wasn't as bad as we thought. A-Rod doesn't hit all of his home runs in blowouts. We've come to learn that Manny is actually a pretty hard worker. Maddux is kind of immature and obnoxious sometimes.
Using such shorthand is understandable. I do it myself sometimes. But it's lazy and, even if a given characterization is true at some specific point in time, it doesn't remain so forever. For that reason, it's probably a good idea to avoid repeating the cliches, even if they are based in truth. Does that mean that we should avoid saying bad things about people altogether? Gosh no. I don't want to sanitize discussion like that because that would be no fun at all. I just want writers and commenters and fans to talk about sports in useful, accurate ways. To think about the people we cover and discuss in a more active fashion and frequently reassess who they are and what they stand for in the world.
This could very well lead to people saying worse things about Milton Bradley and Erin Andrews depending on how they do their jobs and conduct themselves as time goes on. But at least it would be relevant and accurate, and that's what we should be shooting for, right?