Freedom necessitates nuance in Kaepernick debate……

I actually thought the only news we would hear about Colin Kaepernick this summer would be that he would be traded or cut. Little did I know that Colin had something else on his mind

Regardless of where you stand on the Kaepernick and SitGate you have to admit, he has made himself relevant again. Albeit in a way that has nothing to do with football.

Let me start with this. I fully support Colin Kaepernick’s right to sit during the national anthem. If he wants to make that statement, he is fully entitled to do so. He is entitled to use his celebrity however he sees fit. Personally, I am not a huge fan of how he is making his  statement, but it’s his choice not mine. He is free to protest however he wants.  I also fully support those that are vociferously voicing their displeasure at his actions because they see it as a slap in the face to the  men and women who have died for our country. Some have gone completely overboard in their criticisms of Kaepernick and they are free to do that as well.

It really doesn’t matter what you think about the wars and “police actions” we as a country have engaged in. If you believe that flag and the anthem represent those that fought for our freedom and you take offense, be offended. What has emerged in this whole debate is what the anthem and the flag mean to so many of us, and in this regard I think this debate is important.

Kaepernick sees great injustice in how African-Americans are treated by law enforcement. I have never seen injustice suffered by African-Americans and being supportive of law enforcement as diametrically opposed. I have always believed the rules and perceptions of behaviors by minorities have been scrutinized and punished at a higher rate than whites. In fact, statistically its inarguable.

With the recent spate of high-profile shootings and arrests many in our country see this as a chance for real change. The way we can change things is by sitting down face-to-face and having some difficult discussions. These moments for change can’t take place if one side or the other refuses to open their minds and at least put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

If we can agree that a man selling CD’s on a street corner out of the back of his car does not deserve to be shot to death and that ALL police officers are somehow looking to frame, shoot and incarcerate African-Americans, then maybe meaningful dialogue can take place.

The problem is patience is growing thin. When is enough….enough. How many more minorities have to be shot for the most trivial of infractions. Social statements are a way of bringing attention to matters of race and equality. We are seeing these statements in the case of Kaepernick.

I love the national anthem. Have always had great reverence for the song that represents this country. During the last week though I have learned a little more about the man who wrote the anthem, Francis Scott Key. Key was not a great guy. Key was deep-seeded racist. I had no idea he was a slave owner who wrote a verse that glorifies the killing of slaves who left for Canada during the War of 1812. As you can imagine that verse is not included in our anthem. You can read more on this in Jon Schwarz great piece on The Intercept website…..

https://theintercept.com/2016/08/28/colin-kaepernick-is-righter-than-you-know-the-national-anthem-is-a-celebration-of-slavery/

This revelation while surprising doesn’t change the way I feel about the United States when I hear the song. I told you “nuance” was coming and here it is. When I hear the song I think about all the men and women who had to courage to answer the call to fight for this country regardless of what was at stake. I seem to always think about those young kids who stormed the beaches of Normandy, scared, alone and knowing they were probably going to die, but fought  for us anyway. I think of the Tuskegee Airmen. Despite the great inequities of the time, they STILL saw promise in this country to fight for it and make a better life for themselves and their families. They didn’t bitch about life being unfair, and it clearly was. They fought ferociously for our country. That is what I think about when I hear the anthem and put my hand or hat over my heart.

This brings me to more nuance. In a free society the song can mean anything to whomever hears it, ingests it and thinks about it. Freedom and having liberty is not easy. How boring would our nation be if everyone agreed ? How would we cultivate change without our vast array of differences in thought and perspective ? The song and reverence I feel for it does not mean I glorify and celebrate slavery. The song, the flag mean something unique to all of us. It gives all of us a chance to reflect on the great sacrifices of soldiers, family or people we haven’t met. And, the song can also represent an opportunity for someone to protest what they see has been great injustice in our society.

The freedom to disagree. The freedom to criticize those who we disagree with. The freedom to think. The freedom to be our unique self. There is nothing more American than that.

 

Reddick’s struggles and Chooch’s auspicious debut…..

As much as I want to I will not regale you with another anti-Andrew Friedman diatribe. I’m simply spinning my wheels at this point. But I do have some thoughts regarding his newest acquisitions and whether the Dodgers are better for it.

I was not a fan of the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick deal that sent three power arms to the Oakland Athletics. But now that they are here I want them to do well. Hill looked great against the Giants on Wednesday. Six shut-out innings with a nasty curveball and a ton of first pitch strikes. For a team that needs innings from their starting rotation, Hill is a welcome addition.

Josh Reddick on the other hand has had a disastrous start to his Dodger career. It seems big moments are finding him and he is not coming through. Dodger Nation is turning on him and it reminds me a lot of the venom much beloved Juan Uribe faced. Of course Uribe spent the first two years of his Dodger career languishing on the bench before turning things around and becoming a fan favorite. I believe in Reddick. I fully expect him to start playing better. Change of scenery is easy for some guys, and not easy for others. It’s clear Reddick is having a tough time. I don’t have any empirical evidence that guarantees Reddick will perform at a high level, but I have a “feeling.” He is too good a ball-player to be playing this poorly. It’s tough to be patient during a pennant race. It’s easier to bury a guy who is stinking up the joint. Give Reddick a break. I have a feeling he is going to come through in a big spot for the Dodgers. It’s a gut feeling.

GM Andrew Friedman pissed off the natives once again with a head-scratching move on Thursday afternoon. He traded the longest tenured and much beloved teammate AJ Ellis for Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz. On the surface it appears to be a trade for one aging catcher for another, but when you dig deeper it was much more than that.

Ellis was the most beloved Dodger in the locker room. He is Clayton Kershaw’s best friend. He was the undeniable leader in the clubhouse and the Dodgers trade him for a small upgrade at back-up catcher ? Yep, that is what sabermetricians do. They de-value chemistry and simply plug-in players like robots. While Ruiz is a better right-handed bat in this left-handed hitting heavy line-up, he is not so much of an upgrade that it warranted trading a much beloved figure.

Ruiz will help so we don’t have to watch Yasmani Grandal not shift his weight on a ball in the dirt and let it get by him for the tying or winning run to score. Ironically, in Ruiz’s first game who let two Kenley Jansen balls get by him in the 9th inning of a one-run game that allowed the Chicago Cubs to tie and eventually beat the Dodgers in 10 innings. An auspicious start for sure, but certainly not indicative of the type of player I expect Ruiz to be. I think he will do well. He will help, but it was another in a series of peculiar Friedman moves.

I will leave you with this. Baseball is played by human beings who battle for 162 games in a foxhole. When you haphazardly throw away one of the soldiers disrupting the continuity of the “team” you are flirting with danger. Chemistry in baseball matters. Winning teams have it, losing teams search for it. The Dodgers had won the first two games of their pivotal series with the Giants and Friedman sent shock waves through his own team by trading away a guy who meant so much to them from a personal perspective. This is not being “soft” or too sentimental. Winning is fragile. When you don’t respect the process, when you meddle when it’s not needed, you can disrupt this fragile concoction. Friedman and company are unconventional. They believe in a baseball process that has only really been mastered at the World Championship level by Theo Epstein. By not valuing chemistry and camaraderie, Friedman has served notice, this is his franchise and chemistry be damned. He will do things as his eminence sees fit, regardless if whether it makes any baseball sense.

As always Bleeding Dodger Blue…….

Trump supporters remain defiant

They are immovable. They are unshakeable. They will not compromise and they don’t see why they have to. They are supporters of Donald Trump and they are all around us.

Calling them dumb, idiots, morons only emboldens them. Call it the US against THEM mentality. This whole Trump phenomenon was borne out of the Republican party’s inability to stick to principle and now the rest of us are paying the price.

During past elections Democrats have called Republican candidates racist, misogynistic, hate-mongers and so-on and so-forth. Whether it was true or not didn’t matter to Democrats in their zest for victory. The problem is they now face a true demagogue and their haranguing about Trump’s hate-filled speech is falling on deaf ears.

There is a core Trump constituency that will not waver. They see supporting Trump as a badge of honor. It is not unlike his candidacy, it’s not easily explainable and is not grounded in reason. It just is.

Every time you think Trump’s outlandish words will catch up to him, the more his supporters dig in and defend him. It truly is the bed of nails approach to politics. If you step on one nail, it hurts A LOT. But if you step on 300 nails the pain is muted. Trump says so many disparaging and awful things, that one doesn’t have the time to process the first before another controversial comment is unleashed.

There is a core group of Trump supporters who like him because they DETEST Hillary Clinton. They HATE her. You could run the devil against her, and his supporters would worship Lucifer. She is a flash-point for people who don’t like the sell-outs from our politicians. She is the epitome of a sell-out.

While Trump is off-the-rails with his rude, sexist comments, Clinton “tries” to do what her husband Bill did so effectively. She tries to be nuanced in her skirting of the truth. Her problem, the electorate is on to her and she is  seen as an evasive politician who isn’t being square with them. Her problem is she does have skeletons in the basement and really can’t be forthcoming. Plus she lacks the charisma of Bill to calm the waters.

Even with her transgressions, there is no doubt she knows her stuff. She truly is a policy wonk who understands complex issues at a highly intellectual level. You may not agree with her approach, but her intellect to decipher complex governmental issues is in-arguable.

When it comes to Trump, I am finding it difficult to understand the allure. He refuses to show us his taxes which throws all of his claims of being so rich into question. This week the New York Times exposed Trump’s supposed largesse as one big shell game. The investigative report showed the self-proclaimed billionaire is 650 million dollars in debt.

Trump’s 80 million dollar fundraising haul in July is also a shell-game. It turns out only 36 million dollars came in for Trump while 44 million when to the Republican National Committee. Now the RNC could choose to give that money to Trump, or delegate the monies to House and Senate candidates who are at-risk of losing their seats.

Trump can not articulate how he will do all of the various big government projects he will take on. He can not unilaterally build a wall along the southern border. He can’t make Mexico pay for it. He can’t articulate how he is going to beat ISIS. He can’t tell us how he is going to revamp ObamaCare to cover even more people. He recently said he wants to double what Clinton is proposing in infrastructure spending to roughly 1 trillion dollars to rebuild bridges and roads. But, when pressed on how he is going to pay for it he said, “he will start a fund where private financiers invest to rebuild the roads.” A fund ? And, his recent verbal foible in not understanding that Russia was already in Ukraine is simply inexcusable. Today Trump said publicly he is not flip-flopping on his deportation plans for 11 million illegals. This is in direct contrast to a his campaign spokesman who said Trump is pivoting on his deportation plan…….Huh ?

All of these foibles don’t matter to the 40 percent of Americans that love him. They don’t care. He is different. He is uncouth. He doesn’t care what you think of him and the more outrageous the comment the more he is loved.

Many of his followers have been so alienated and disenfranchised by the political system that they don’t care. They will embrace an authoritarian and worry about the ramifications later.

Those of us that are sane can lament, ridicule, castigate and berate. It won’t work. You know what also won’t work, reason

Dodgers lose leverage in trade deadline deals……

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers trade deadline moves may in fact help them get into the post-season as a wildcard or possibly a division winner. But, I believe they lost more than they gained in parting with three power arms from their system.

By picking up Rich Hill and Josh Reddick along with a couple of other relief pitchers (Josh Fields and Jesse Chavez)  the Dodgers slightly improved their now, but lost valuable pieces that could be used as trade bait this winter.

With Clayton Kershaw on the shelf for who knows how long, the Dodgers went for it on Monday. The problem is this team was not worthy of such an aggressive play. Their recent spate of solid performance, is far from a World Series contender. Their record and their proximity to the Giants in the standings is fools gold. The Dodgers were better equipped for a deep post-season run in 2013-2015. If these moves were made then, fine. Those teams were close.  But this year they have way too many question marks and inconsistencies. The outfield is a convoluted mess. Puig has been jettisoned. Ethier is injured. Joc is thrilling but one-dimensional. AGone is aging, Utley is old and Grandal hits home runs, but can’t block a ball in the dirt with the winning run at third and two outs in a tie game in the 8th. This team has way too many holes to be mentioned in the same breath as the Cubs, Nats and even the Giants.

The Chicago Cubs are far and away the best team in the National League. They not only have the best line-up, but they made three trades in the last three weeks that solidified what was already a better than average bullpen. Chicago has Aroldis Chapman closing, they added lefty Mike Montgomery as a specialist southpaw along with Travis Wood. They already had Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon and now they add side-armer Joe Smith. The Cubs got much better.

Throw in the Washington Nationals adding Mark Melancon and you have two teams who I believe are better equipped to winning the pennant than the Dodgers. The Giants even improved themselves by adding left-handed specialist Will Smith and lefty starter Matt Moore.

The Dodgers were unwilling to trade their “best” prospects and for that I applaud them. But, Grant Holmes, Frankie Montas and Jharel Cotton were highly regarded power arms. The Dodgers traded them for a two-month rental of an aging outfielder and a left-handed pitcher, who is good, but hasn’t proven to be consistent over time and  is currently on the disabled list with a recurring blister problem.

It’s obvious the Dodgers couldn’t get Chris Sale or Chris Archer without giving up Julio Urias or Jose De Leon. I am glad the Dodgers didn’t part with either of them. But, I would have preferred the Dodgers wait this out, hope Kershaw comes back and see if the last three weeks of pitching magic can continue without trading Holmes, Montas and Cotton.

I supported the notion that the accumulation of prospects would make it possible for a run at Jose Fernandez in the off-season. Including all three of these prospects for Fernandez and including De Leon might have gotten the Dodgers the big prize. Now, any dream scenario about getting Fernandez is gone without depleting the entire farm.

I don’t disagree with trying to improve this team right now. But, losing three power arms for a couple rentals on a team that is not of championship quality made no sense. Especially when accumulating assets and flipping them for Jose Fernandez this winter made more sense.

As always Bleeding Dodger Blue….