Friday, September 4, 2015

3 comments Phil Mushnick Is Still Old and Really, Really Cranky

Phil Mushnick hates so many things it's not worth listing them all. He hates showy athletes, hates announcers for using words he hates, and felt after his son's death was the best time to take a shit on Adrian Peterson. His online column (Mushnick probably spends time being self-loathing about the fact he has to publish columns on the Internet) is basically just a list of things that make him so angry because they didn't used to be that way. In two articles today, it's hard to say exactly all of the things that Phil is railing against, but it's instant replay, the way headlines are written, people being mean to Curt Schilling, and Jon Stewart.

Here is his first article of screeds against random things that pop into his mind which piss him off. 

Well, it finally happened. Didn’t make much news or noise, but that figures given baseball’s new replay rules have been widely celebrated for “getting it right.”

I'm shocked the new replay rules don't work perfectly after one year. Usually rule changes in a professional sporting event immediately works effortlessly with no issues.

In the top of the fifth inning in Aug. 20’s White Sox-Angels, Chicago’s Jose Abreu, with runners on first and third, hit a shot down the line that third-base ump Dana DeMuth ruled foul. Play, naturally, immediately stopped.

But the White Sox challenged the call. And there it was: The ball appeared to have nicked the line. Fair ball! Now what?

The umpires decide what bases to award the White Sox. I get the snark about "getting it right" but Mushnick is essentially going to argue that the umpires using hypotheticals to award bases to players is not preferable to the call being absolutely wrong. I would disagree, but I also am not a cranky person who can't handle any sort of change.

The umps held a meeting, a caucus to negotiate a settlement. It ended only after they reached an agreement on a guess of what, among scores of things that could have happened, as to what might have next happened. They determined — guessed — that because the runner on first was going on the pitch, both runners should score, and Abreu should be awarded second, as if it were a ground-rule double, which it was not.

I disagree with the conclusion here. I think the runner on first should be awarded third base just as if it were a ground rule double, but otherwise I have no issue with instant replay working in this exact way. It's almost impossible to know what really would have happened, so there has to be some educated guessing involved, assuming the umpires have the directive from MLB to get the call right by using instant replay. There is no other way, outside of guessing, to determine what would have happened had the call been correct initially.

So, in the name of “getting it right,” a pile of things that never happened — all of them impossible to determine would have happened — were deemed to have not happened while other impossibilities to determine were deemed to have happened.

You mean sort of like how defensive pass interference is called in the NFL and the offensive team is given the ball at the spot of the foul when there is no evidence that if there were no defensive pass interference the offensive player would have caught the ball? Or evidence the offensive player would have caught the ball and run for a touchdown? There is also no evidence the offensive player would have caught the ball, fumbled and then the defensive player would have run it back for a touchdown had the pass interference not occurred? Sort of how the NFL just assumes the offensive player would have caught the ball, and rewards the offensive team accordingly, when defensive pass interference occurs? I'm sure Phil Mushnick has no issue with this rule because it's not new and scary.

The White Sox took a 6-1 lead based on nothing more conclusive than a bunch of maybes as they related to the offense, the defense, and where that ball might’ve wound up then how it might’ve been played — had it been played.

This is what has happened on ground rule doubles for a long, long time now. A runner gets stopped at third base (if he were on first base) based on an assumption of how the ball would have been played. The alternative is that the call is entirely wrong without instant replay and the White Sox will keep the lead they have, but not keep the chance to have the big lead they should have had. So get it wrong or guess in an attempt to get it right? 

Once that foul ball, via replay rule, was determined to have been fair, imaginary baseball — official fantasy league baseball — was invoked.

I wish fantasy sports didn't exist so sportswriters would stop referring to real baseball as "fantasy baseball" when something happens in the sport that they don't like. It's a lazy fallback joke and it's tiring. 

The mind wanders and wonders … Game 7 of the World Series, bottom of the ninth. A ball initially ruled foul is reviewed, reversed. The umps gather to try to figure it out, to try to figure what can’t possibly be determined, then rule on what would’ve or might’ve happened, though it didn’t.

So in criticizing a pile of things that never happened---all of them impossible to determine would have happened---Phil Mushnick uses a situation that has never happened and it is impossible at this point to determine would happen in the World Series?

(Phil Mushnick) "Stop using hypothetical actions by runners on-base to determine what the score in the game would be in a hypothetical situation had the call been made correctly. Now here is a hypothetical situation with hypothetical actions by the umpires that I will use to determine how the World Series would end..."

Is the World Series over? “Gee,” says the crew chief, “I guess so.”

Instant replay has ended an NFL game before when a call was upheld or overturned. It happened in the Packers-Seahawks game a few years ago. This may never happen in the World Series, but I like how Phil criticizes using hypotheticals in order to get a call on the field correct using instant replay by using his own hypothetical situation. 

One of my favorite parts of Super Bowls is the solemn chat with the losing coach just outside the locker room, usually his back to a cinderblock wall.
Inevitably, whether the score was 52-10 or 28-27, he is asked: “What would you have done differently?” Almost always, he answers he would do nothing differently, which, given that his team lost, makes no sense. He would do it all the same, again. And lose the same, again.

Not necessarily. It's possible the issue wasn't the play call, but the execution of the play call. So a coach could easily decide to call the same play again, but have his quarterback choose to throw to a different receiver, run with the football or throw the ball to the receiver in a different spot where the defender can't catch the ball. This is the difference in a results-oriented mindset and a more educated mindset. If I get in a car accident driving to the grocery store using a different route than I usually use to get to the grocery store, it doesn't mean I should never go the different route again because I will get in another accident. 

The Golf Channel becomes comical when it goes into Tiger Woods Scramble Mode. When Woods shot a first-round 64 two Thursdays ago, GC apparently canceled all staff vacations, on-air personnel instructed to hyperventilate.

For a person whose job it is to cover the media, Phil Mushnick has a shitty grasp on how ratings work. Tiger Woods is in contention, which means there is more interest in the golf tournament. The ratings reflect this, so naturally a network will cover the story that the people watching the tournament are interested in. 

CBS was no better. Though Woods last Sunday was in the next-to-the-last pairing — “penultimate pairing,” as per ESPN from the British Open — Woods was listed first among those in second place, two behind leader Jason Gore. But Tom Hoge, tied with Woods, played with Gore.

Again, ratings. It doesn't matter how the players are sorted, but CBS wanted any person flipping channels to see Tiger is high on the leaderboard. Phil Mushnick covers the media. Networks like ratings and Tiger brings in ratings. 

ESPN’s late Sunday crawl read, “Davis Love wins the Wyndham as Tiger falters.” Reader Rich Monahan: “As if one was the reason for the other!”

This is very Easterbrookian on the part of Rich Monahan. It's not at all how that sentence is structured, as if one was the reason for the other. If I write, "I wrote in my notebook as my sister tried to color in the lines of her coloring book," I'm not indicating one event has a correlation to the other or indicating any causation. I'm simply stating what I'm doing while my sister is doing something else.

Another example: "Phil Mushnick bitches about stupid shit in his column as really good writers are unemployed." Wait, maybe I'm implying there should be some causation there...

Carlos Gomez, as a Brewer and now with the Astros, has been a conspicuous showoff, a me-first fool well worth the Yankees’ collective disdain over the past week.

But Gomez, who claims his teammates love such behavior from him — he’s delusional if he believes that — should be asked this:

Phil Mushnick knows Carlos Gomez is delusional for thinking his teammates love his behavior, because Phil Mushnick has been in the Brewers' and Astros' locker room to know whether his teammates like him or not? Not at all. Mushnick is assuming Gomez is delusional based on his own beliefs and assumptions. Basically, Mushnick is determining what Gomez's teammates think---while ignoring it's impossible to determine what they think---when ignoring other possibilities and deeming them to not have happened.

Would you instruct the kids in your life to exploit baseball, a team game, to demonstrate their excessive self-regard, or would you urge them toward modesty? Is public immodesty the professional legacy you choose for yourself?

That's a great question to ask. Carlos Gomez clearly needs a moral compass like Phil Mushnick to help him raise his children in the proper way. That is what is so great about Phil Mushnick. He knows how everyone should behave and act at all times and believes himself to be the final arbiter on what is and is not proper behavior. He has that excessive self-regard and displays some public immodesty by telling others what the proper behavior in a given situation might be. 

Now Phil Mushnick uses history to determine that Curt Schilling should not have been punished for comparing extremist Muslims to Nazis. Of course, because outrage has to take a back seat to actually reading and understand what Schilling put on his Facebook page, Phil Mushnick is outraged at Schilling being punished.

Schilling deleted the Tweet and even apologized for it. So clearly he knew what he posted was going to be offensive to some and chose to delete it off his Facebook page entirely. There is a recent history of people being outraged just to be outraged, but Schilling knew he shouldn't have posted what he posted and deleted it accordingly. He made a mistake, owned up to it and then got punished. We all move on. BUT, Phil Mushnick is angry that ESPN blatantly read what Schilling posted and didn't take history into account. Sure, Phil spends many of his columns only reading the body language and actions of players (see: Carlos Gomez, above) and then judging them harshly on those actions without investigating the history or reason behind those actions, but it's different for him. Phil Mushnick can rush to a snap judgment and condemn a person accordingly, but everyone else should not do this.

ESPN last week suspended its lead baseball analyst, Curt Schilling, not for talking games to death, but for a social-media message equating Nazis with current, extremist Muslims.

The message was comparing extreme Muslims now to Nazis in 1940, prior to the United States entry into World War II. I could be way off, but the indication being that extreme Muslims could become a threat on-par with Nazis and that even non-extreme Muslims will eventually take up the point of view of extreme Muslims. Again, I could be looking into it too much, but the year 1940 seems to indicate to Americans (yes, there was fighting prior to the Americans entering the war) that extremist Muslims could eventually recruit non-extreme Muslims to their cause to the point there is another world war.

“Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective. We made that point very strongly to Curt and have removed him from his current Little League assignment pending further consideration.”

Completely unacceptable? Out of line with ESPN’s perspective?

Curt Schilling apologized for it. We live in an age where everyone is offended by everything. I recognize this. When Schilling apologizes for what he posted, it tells me that he recognizes the fallacy of posting this on his Facebook page. Remember, Schilling never apologized for his science v. God debate with Keith Law that got Law suspended. He isn't going to apologize just because he feels he hurt some feelings, so he must really think he was in the wrong. Maybe he just wanted to avoid a suspension, who knows? 

So, then what — very strongly, no less — is ESPN’s perspective?

To not compare extreme Muslims to pre-Americans-entering-World War II Nazis. That's their perspective. 

and “in no way represents our company’s perspective” was not only historically true, Schilling under-tweeted the truth. Islamists and Nazis were teammates!

Tens of thousands more eastern Muslims fought for Nazi Germany. Their mutual attraction was a shared desire to murder Jews.

So Phil Mushnick's reaction is to basically say, "Muslims have always been on the side of Nazis, so Curt Schilling should have lumped even more non-extremist Muslims in with Hitler and his political party."


After the war, “rat lines” that provided escape and sanctuary to Nazi war criminals led to safekeeping in Islamic countries, especially Egypt and Syria. And little about radical Islam, as it today festers and explodes, has changed since the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century.

While this could possibly be true, there are radical sects of every religion that probably have gone unchanged for generations and every religion is responsible in some way for death and destruction. The Crusades weren't exactly a bloodless affair, but it doesn't mean the modern day conservative Christian is a danger to society. My point is Islam may have been historically tied to Nazi Germany, but this doesn't necessarily mean a baseball analyst should be posting brief tidbits that serve as a warning about the growth of radical Islam and comparing it to Nazi Germany in 1940. Maybe someone will read this sentence in 100 years and laugh at the naive American who was eventually wiped out by radical Islam...

So what Schilling tweeted was (a) true, (b) a vast understatement, and (c) intolerable to ESPN, so at odds with the company’s position that ESPN had no choice but to publicly censure and punish him.

It's not that the facts aren't necessarily true, though I have no evidence the facts are true, but it's the insinuation behind those facts that Schilling was seemingly making. There was an insinuation that non-extreme Muslims would eventually join the radical cause. Again, that's how I read it. 

Yet it rhymes with the media’s selective outrages and selectively quiet pandering. And pandering continues as the frightened media’s path-of-least-resistance substitute for hard, unfortunate truths.

Maybe, but I think Phil Mushnick is reading a bit too much into this. If I posted something on this blog that said (these are made up numbers),

"In 1933, African Americans made up 15% of the population of the United States population and violent crime was at it's lowest totals. Today, African Americans make up 45% of the United States population and violent crime is as high as it has been in the history of the United States."

If I wrote that, then I am only writing true things, but it doesn't mean that I'm not insinuating or encouraging my reader to make another assumption within the information I'm reporting. I wasn't offended by what was on Schilling's Facebook page, but combined with his argument with Keith Law, I can see why he was suspended. Naturally, Phil Mushnick is outraged.

Saturday night’s FOX 5 News sports report, anchored by Tina Cervasio of MSG renown, was an exercise in staggering group pandering. As her “amusing” kicker, she reported that Steve Smith, now a Ravens wide receiver, was ejected from that night’s preseason game. She didn’t say why he was tossed, but it was for fighting.

Usually if a football player is ejected from a game, it isn't for passing out flowers to his opponents. Even casual football fans know this. So there was obviously something that got Smith ejected and the reason can be explained, but it's a safe assumption he did something excessively violent or that wouldn't go over well in a normal work place. 

After his first-quarter ejection Saturday, Cervasio said Smith entered a suite to sit with his son, from where they tweeted a smiling “selfie,” along with his son’s happy message: “when ur dad gets ejected.” The kid added this was the first time he watched his father’s team play while seated with his father.

Isn’t that charming, family bonding predicated on Dad being thrown out of the game.

It is exciting and charming for a kid to watch a football game with his dad. Though I'm sure Phil Mushnick is very concerned about the example Steve Smith is setting for his son. Thank God that Mushnick is here to tell others how they should or should not parent. 

This brought approving, if not forced laughter from Cervasio and the pandering news folks also on the set. Anchor Antwan Lewis gave it final, full approval with, “That’s pretty cool.” Yeah, fabulous.

Don't be such a crab. Steve Smith by all appearances seems to be a really good father. Would it have been better if Smith got kicked out of the game and then didn't sit with his family? He's been kicked out of a preseason game (and may have been trying to get kicked out...I wouldn't put it past him), so why not sit with his family? Then his son took a picture of them watching the game together. This isn't a threat to humanity on-par to the Nazi-like rise of Islam.

Reader Wesley Drake, as likely did tens of thousands, thought the tear-filled Wilmer Flores “trade to Milwaukee” drama to be extra special, something that made all feel good for all the right reasons.

But then Drake, as did others, learned that Steiner Collectibles and Flores had joined to exploit the story for every tear-soaked dollar that suckers could spend. Flores autographed photos of him crying, Steiner peddled them.

He's making money off his own pain. That's absolutely something he is entitled to do. It could be tongue-in-cheek or it could be an easy way to make a dollar. What does it matter? Would it be better if Flores was not a part of these photos? Would his lack of participation in not autographing them be any less pathetic if someone else made money off the pain he was feeling at the time? 

“Now,” writes Drake, “I feel like an idiot.”

You bought an autographed picture of a man crying and then emailed Phil Mushnick about it. I would say the second part of that last sentence probably indicates you are self-aware enough to know it's not just a feeling. 

Was there no one with the Mets or perhaps Flores’s agent to discourage such a pathetic sell? Was there no one to tell Flores, perhaps na├»ve but not starving, that there are other, better ways to make an extra buck?

Again, why should he not make money off his own pain? It may be pathetic, but if there is a market for it, who cares? Plus, it's nice that Flores can autograph them and not take himself so seriously, even when photographed in a vulnerable moment like he was. 

Saturday, during the Red Sox-Mets game, one of the most trusted voices of New York sports, Howie Rose, retold the warm-the-cockles, trade-that-wasn’t story. He said that Flores, now a crowd favorite, “is very shy” and that “he was almost embarrassed” by all the attention. Hmmm.

Maybe “almost” covered it. He couldn’t have been that embarrassed.

He could have been that embarrassed and decided rather than continue to be embarrassed, fully knowing the pictures of him crying are not going away, why not embrace the embarrassment and participate? 

Et tu, Jon Stewart? If Stewart thought himself an idealist rather than an easy, cheesy populist, he blew it last week when he lent his presence to a WWE ringside skit.

My feelings about wrestling will always remain untold, because I don't want to tell others what to and not to like, but is Jon Stewart participating in a WWE skit really worth bitching about? I can't figure out how Jon Stewart being a part of a fake wrestling match could somehow be an indication there is no one left to corrupt and the sky of morality in sports is definitely falling. 

Perhaps he didn’t care that the McMahon family has for decades headed a drug-death mill for wrestlers, or that the McMahons’ form of entertaining kids is to have wrestlers point to their genitals while hollering, “Suck it!”

Yep, I'd say he probably didn't give a shit. It's fake and it's entertainment. What's the difference in Stewart participating in a WWE skit and acting in a movie where he plays a morally corrupt character? Either way, he is acting. Go find something else to be outraged about. 

But for 16 years, Stewart sat on a Comedy Central set and lampooned America’s biggest big shots for failure to choose right over wrong.

Participating in a WWE wrestling skit is "failing to choose right over wrong?" Really? Phil Mushnick needs to retire. For someone who doesn't like athletes who grandstand and have excessive self-regard, he does a hell of a lot of moral grandstanding and holds himself in high regard.


HH said...

Why is everyone acting like this is new? Umpires already have go predict what would have happened had there not been, for example, fan interference. That has worked out just fine, hasn't it?

Chris said...

In my mind it's not even that what Schilling said may technically be true(I don't know that that is the case or not and I don't care to go down the rabbit hole and speculate whether it is or not), it's the fact that Schilling admitted that he knew what he put out was controversial and might land him in hot water with the public and with his employer and yet decided to put it out anyway. So while the substance of what he is implying is controversial it's also the fact that he wrote this shit anyways knowing ESPN would probably suspend him. And for what? What point is he trying to prove to anyone? I know Schilling is very political and has been pretty much ever since he retired but he should realize most people watch Baseball Tonight to ya know hear him talk about baseball. I don't watch ESPN to hear him break down the 2016 elections.

Anonymous said...

Phil Mushnick is a journalistic God. 99.9% of what he has said over the past 30 years has been correct. And yes, thank God Phi's around to tell people how to behave and parent when they're too stupid to parent correctly and behave like rational, civilized human beings. If people behaved well and parented correctly in all the situations he wrote about, then he wouldn't need to write his awesome columns in order to set them straight.