Tidbits – September 28

Just a couple of quick items: Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus has a particularly incisive take on the end of the Bonds era in San Francisco and I am scratching my head at sports media’s handling of Tom Brady’s fatherhood.

1) Joe Sheehan has never gotten on the anti-Bonds bandwagon, and he’s particularly annoyed at how the Bay area press reacted last week to word that Bonds would not be back with the Giants in 2008:

The naked glee generated by this decision was embarrassing (links courtesy Buster Olney’s ESPN.com blog), with the San Francisco writers falling all over themselves to praise McGowan for cutting loose the best player in franchise history, the most productive player on the current roster, the best hitter in the National League and, dollar for dollar, one of the better values in the game. The press pool showed no recognition that Bonds remains an amazing player and an asset to any team, even one far from contention. Yes, he requires special treatment; is it some kind of news to everyone that the very best people in any line of work tend to get perks that separate themselves from their peers?

Of course, the story about Bonds, for that crowd, has never been about performance. It’s always been about Bonds’ disdain for the media, his refusal to provide access and quotes and make the media’s job easier. I have no doubt that if you have to deal with Bonds on a daily basis—if dealing with him is a major part of your job description—that it would make your life difficult. However, to allow that one aspect of the man to become the driving force for years of negative coverage strikes me, has always struck me, as just as unprofessional as his approach. The disdain for Barry Bonds among the local media is disproportionate to anything the man has ever done, amounting to a collective tantrum that has poisoned the man’s reputation among baseball fans nationwide, Bonds’ relationship to the media, and the media’s treatment of him because of it, queers the entire discussion about Bonds’ accomplishments and whether they may have been influenced by extra-legal actions on his part. He’s never been evaluated fairly because the world has been told he’s a bad guy, and we don’t like bad guys. The people who see the Bonds/public/media triangle as a racial matter miss the point; it’s not a lesson in how American treats black men; it’s a lesson in how the media can make or break men of any hue.

As I’ve discussed before, and most regular readers of this site understand all too well, Sheehan’s off base in his juxtaposition of the media’s power and the issue of race. The two are not, of course, mutually exclusive, but powerfully reinforcing. Nevertheless, Sheehan’s got it right here in his emphasis on the indisputably childish behavior of most of the media covering Bonds.

Earlier this week on Jim Rome’s TV show, Mike Wise referred to the likelihood of both Milton Bradley and Barry Bonds signing with new teams next year as “unfortunate.” Why Wise would care enough about that possibility (he’s a Washington Post writer and neither the Nationals or Orioles is likely to sign either player), I don’t really get. I still can’t understand the deeply personal way in which so many sports media types relate to professional athletes – as if they are still children whose illusions about hero figures in their lives have been shattered. How else to explain all this role model business? Thursday morning on Mike and Mike, Greenie was expressing deep offense that Vick “lied to us” when he said he would change his life upon pleading guilty in August, only to turn around and, presumably, imbibe. But, assuming Vick smoked pot after the terms of his bail were set, what we have here is a serious case of poor judgment that affects exactly no one except for Michael Vick and his loved ones. If actual kids feel disillusioned by the actions of a Michael Vick (and I’m not talking about the pot-smoking here – I couldn’t possibly care less), OK. But, for grown-ups to take such umbrage at professional athletes who act pissy sometimes, or lose their temper or do things that many sportswriters themselves have undoubtedly done (like smoke pot) – this is what is so out of proportion to the underlying behavior.

2) In a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, Rick Reilly wrote a paean to the God that is Tom Brady, dressed up as a regular column. The premise of the column was how Tom Brady could give dating tips based on his good looks, humility, sense of himself, etc, with Reilly offering examples of each attribute and then checking off Brady’s possession of said attribute. Among those appealing features that Reilly cited was Brady’s sense of “personal responsibility.” Pertaining to what issue, you might ask? Here’s Reilly:

See, Brady is Namath with a milk mustache. Mothers want him for supper and daughters for everything after. O.K., you might say, but how cool is it to get one woman pregnant (Moynahan) and be dating another (Bündchen)? Well, a) Brady says he didn’t know Moynahan was pregnant until after they’d broken up, and b) Brady is aching to be a full-time dad. He was there three weeks ago for the birth of John Edward Thomas Moynahan.

“I kind of cuddled him like a football,” Brady says, adding that it’s killing him that he can’t be in Los Angeles for every sneeze. “I’d love to be out there all the time, year-round, but it’s hard to make that a reality. I live here. But I’ll start lobbying for off days throughout the year.”

Personal responsibility. Check.

I honestly have no opinion about Brady’s relationship to Moynahan. I don’t know the circumstances of their relationship, and I don’t know who knew what when. I do know two things: 1) that Brady’s desire to be a full-time dad has absolutely nothing to do with the question of whether he’s acted responsiby in relation to a child for whom he clearly will not be a full-time dad. 2) I have never seen a professional athlete who fathered a child out of wedlock, with a woman with whom his relationship ended before the child was born, be given so much respect by the media as a father. This morning on the Boomer and Carton show, the new WFAN morning team concluded an interview with Brady by asking how his kid was in a way that made it impossible to tell whether Brady was living under the same roof as his child or not. If there are other examples of other professional athletes having kids under such circumstances who get this kind of treatment, please let me know. I want to emphasize – I have no personal opinion about this particular case – I am not privy to any of the intimate details. I am struck, however, by the contrast in treatment of Brady’s situation to those of other athletes who had kids in similar circumstances. Remember, this is an issue to which Sports Illustrated once devoted a major cover story.

31 Responses to “Tidbits – September 28”

  1. first!!

  2. Can I just say that even though I don’t know Tom Brady or Moynihan, from a girl’s point of view over here, Brady is a heel; a cad; not someone I would wish to have as a “father” or to be a “father” to any child I know. People make their own choices, but I wouldn’t want any child I know to be third to football and a “super” model. But I am struck on how his “baby-mama drama” is being portrayed as cuddly in the press. It is kind of mind boggling.

    Kind of a digression — but isn’t Tiger taking time off to be with HIS offspring? Didn’t Derek Fisher miss a playoff game to take his daughter to the doctor. Not really comparing, but…Damn.

  3. Grace,

    When Tiger had the baby it was a ‘distraction’ remember that??? He promptly trounced everyone afterwards.

  4. Grace, part of why Brady gets to slide on this so much is because Moynahan herself should be well enough off from acting/modeling/etc. Thus, the debate falls into the realm of the wealthy, where it’s assumed the child will be well taken care of (also, Brady’s apparent monogamy helps.) Matt Leinart gets more ish because he’s a party boy and bed-hopper.

    Doesn’t make it any less hypocritical, though. Both of those two get it easy compared to Travis Henry, Shawn Kemp, Chad Johnson, Ray Lewis, etc. on the subject of children out of wedlock. I don’t really care as much about the kids being born out of wedlock as long as they are well supported and have some form of nurturing environment, but the double standard here is bothersome.

  5. Wow,

    In regards to the Media lynching of Bonds. I was just listening to some guy on the radio say how he pinpointed the moment Howard Dean lost the Dems nomination 3 years ago. Apparently Dean was the front runner and even more importantly the ones the Republicans were afraid of. On the cover magazines he was the one-until he went on Chris Matthews show. Matthews asked him what he thought of media consolidation. Dean said you should break them up. Matthews is like “wha, what”? Dean says yep, NBC should not be owned by a defense contractor like GE and that GE should divest because it is against anti-trust laws. Dude, the media is STILL kicking that guy in the head. Scary stuff.

  6. Mike Wise is a typical, passive-aggressive punk-type sports columnist. He’s the same guy who, when Vick entered his guilty plea, wrote a column gleefully noting that the “cocksure, blinging (Vick) was nowhere to be seen” in the courtroom -and had been replaced by a humbled, business-suited, submissive guy who was merely a “defendant in “case No. 00274.” Wise really went out of his way to humiliate Vick – while his black WaPo sports columnist colleague, Michael “The Black Tonto” Wilbon – wrote nothing of note or significance about the case.

  7. Thanks again jeweiler for a great article.

    Glad you pointed out the double standard. Anyone remember how when Lebron had his first kid how in sports illustrated they mentioned how he was a poor role model. Now all of sudden brady has his kid and its all cute how he is such a dad. Get the F out of here.

    Also Signal………yeah teh media gets on Matt but nowhere near how they would get on him if he were black.

  8. Ahhh…

    I love male privilege.

    Let’s play a thought experiment. Say there is an unmarried parent who visits their child only a few days a year. At first you don’t know the gender of the parent. Then, guess the public responses when told the gender. I’ll go first.

    If it is a man: “hey, at least he’s trying…. he could do worse.”

    If it is a woman: “only a few days a year! What a cold hearted shrew!”

  9. Very true Ken.

  10. AWB,
    I was a huge Dean fan, but the idea that the Republicans were most scared of him is silly. He was way too progressive for this country – the GOP would have “Willie Horton’d” him to death on various issues – with the eager help of the media. However, I think he’s doing a great job as DNC chairman these days.

  11. Right on Ken. ( my wife seconds the motion.)

  12. Signal,
    I don’t know about the other examples you mentioned, but didn’t Kemp father a bunch of kids with a bunch of women? Different than Brady, or anybody else who had only one, isn’t it?

  13. Thanks J. Joe Sheehan definitely had it right until that last sentence. It can be maddening how grown men cannot process the very simple concept that both personality and race can be a factor.

    Great juxtaposition on Reilly’s piece and “Where’s Daddy”? I think I’m going to run with it a little further in an article tomorrow.

    —————————————

    I always thought that Dean’s “I have a Scream” speech did him in. Personally I never thought the speech was that bad, but the media killed him on it. My interpretatipn is that it was a Republican-Democrat willful collaboration. Republicans loved to kill him anyway, and Dems thought he wasn’t electable anyway, so they piled on too.

  14. Dean was dead before the speech – he finished way back in Iowa, and the biggest problem was expectations – he had been expected to fare much better. The scream was just the nail in the coffin. He at least would have fought back against Bush – unlike the junior senator from my state.

  15. Mark, perhaps you are right. In fact his “Scream Speech” was probably an over-the-top overcompensation for coming in third in Iowa. He probably wanted to seem unwavered by the whole thing. I guess the plan backfired…

  16. MODI,
    I agree. And look at what we got instead!

  17. reily said on mike terico`s espn radio show that he hoped bonds would go to jail. terico laughed.it appears to me that a lot of sports media people are now openly disdainful of black athletes.

  18. You actually listen to the Mike Tirico Show?

  19. I can’t take any shots at Brady because I’ve been in his situation but the double standard by the media is something troubling though. Some people will say that since Brady has been a publicly stand up guy during his career that he has this PR ‘capital’ built up but I’d counter by saying that Tiger Woods has just as much or more of that capital and as pointed out when he had his kid IN wedlock he caught some flak. It’s nobody’s business what goes on between Brady, Moynahan, and that kid because who’s to say why they broke up in the first place and this wasn’t a ploy by Moynahan to keep her name in the press? Cynical, yeah, but more calculated things have been done to pay back ex-lovers.

    The only problem I have with the Giants letting Barry Bonds go is that management should have let him know at the beginning of the season but anyone could see despite his numbers he’s on the downside of his career and probably is holding back the development of the team. He got his nearly 18 mil this year and the Giants stayed relevant in the national media outside of the standings this season so they both got what they wanted. Treat it like a business because that’s all it is.

  20. Ken…

    How did Bonds hold back his team? I;ve heard people mention this before, same with Garnet in Minisota. These players are the stars of the team, the main attraction, henceforth the main money generators.

    Are you telling me that a GM given the mandate to assess talent and sell good free agents on his team, draft good to great players based on scouting reports can be absolved if the fail to add quality players to the roster?

    I work for managers in the public service sector, who constantly hire staff, who
    have little or no clue as to how to relate to the public, relate interpersonally or even know how to put together a damn report.

    The difference bwteen the two is no difference, because your job is to assemble the best group of talent then hire competant supervisor/coach to make it all work.

    Are they going to blame Bonds next year when they further screw up? Or will this roster suddenly and over night become “skilled” because Bonds isn’t there to suck up all the money?

    You see with us folks, it usually comes down to money/success and how certain people who practice cultural oppression will use the fame and gain to reinforce their notion of the blame game.

    Shoot! I ‘d like a job as a GM. Hell! I know talent and I certainly can bullshit like they can…I think I am going to look into that! LOL!

  21. Sorry Ken! I meant HarveyDent…

  22. Because for whites Tom Brady is an indivdual and isn’t representative of White Althletes/People even though many do have kids out of wedlock they operate under the “old boy’s club” of white journalist and althletes and will protect their privacy but someone like Bonds who is openly surly of the white media will get vilified for anything he does on or off the field. I have utter contempt for Rick Reilly and the MSWM because of their increasing bias (something that gets swept under the rug ) towards black male altheletes.

    One of the reasons Shaquille O’ Neal left Orlando was the intrusion into his personal life by the white media in the tampa bay/central florida area who covered the team. When he was dating his ex- wife and asked them to respect his privacy when she gave birth to their children, they were calling him a bad father and role model for children and a white player who wasn’t married in another sport here in tampa (I think it was Mike Alstott) was treated with kid gloves. I talked to a friend of mine who ran with a few pro ball players who told him part of the reason he moved to L.A. was to be treated like man instead of a “boy” in his personal life.

  23. Weirdly, I feel like Tom Brady gets shafted and slammed no matter what he does at this point in press that skews towards women – gossip mags, etc – because he’s dating a supermodel. Even though he appears not to have cheated or anything, he’s derided as an ass because he went from mid-30s attractive actress to, well, supermodel? I don’t completely get it.

    I’ve never trusted Gary Smith, awesome SI writer or no, since that SI story where he compared the child molesting Catholic church scandal to steroids in baseball. The degree of damage is so huge – it totally goes to what you’re talking about with the sports writers and their weird worship of athletes. Reading some of them I just wonder, repeatedly, why these people think athletes are by default role models for everyone.

  24. Mark @ 12: true. Maybe we should use another example: Brian Urlacher, who has children with an ex-wife and another baby mama (whom he texted some very nasty things to) has gotten off easy on that front compared to Henry, Lewis, et al.

  25. @Sankofa

    Barry Bonds held the Giants back in that at his age and salary it wasn’t cost-effective to bring him back for another season when the money could be better spent on younger talent and free agents. There’s no salary cap in baseball but these organizations run on the same principles as ‘real-life’ business models nowadays where the interested in cutting costs to get the highest returns. Magowan and Sabean decided being in last place with Bonds was more costly than potentially winning with a team of unknowns a la this year’s Diamondbacks and still getting a higher return. It’s not right in my viewpoint but don’t make it sound like Bonds and the Giants don’t know how it’s played. Bonds knew he was playing on a one-year contract and the Giants only brought him back this year to have him break Aaron’s record in their uniform. That’s the way the business of sports is today where these teams are willing to lose with a small payroll than some stud past his prime.

    As far as Garnett and the T’Wolves, his contract may have held the team back as far as getting big-ticket FA’s but that’s more a talent evaluation flaw on the part of Mchale and Taylor than him because he, Garnett, earned his money every season of that contract even though the continuous losing began to grate on him his last two years in MN. He played the good soldier role by not trashing the team in public as he would have been justified in doing but he let them know that he was going to explore his options after his contract expired after this upcoming seasons and more than likely was not coming back to the Wolves the next season. He knew they weren’t going to build a team around him and the Wolves knew they weren’t going to get anything if he just walked so that was the reasoning behind the trade. Simple NBA-nomics in the new millenium.

    Are both instances just? No, but that’s the way players and management play the game today. The Giants and the Wolves aren’t going to win world championships during the remaining days of both players careers so if they’re serious about finally winning titles in their respective sports then these teams did them a favor by letting them walk. They got their long-term contacts and notoriety and the teams made their money back on tickets and merchandising. Right? Again, no but that’s the way the games off the diamond/field/court are played and both sides know exactly what they’re doing.

  26. […] this recent post by Jonathan Weiler from The Starting Five, discusses this Sports Illustrated article where columnist Rick Reilly discusses “Tom Brady […]

  27. Signal, #24, I’ll buy that.

  28. HarveyDent

    I see your point, however before this year what was the excuse when the team was not able to surround the man with good prospects or free agents?

    Are you telling me that no body would have been enticed to play with a baller of Bonds Level?

    My argument is and always as been the fact that teams such as the Giants use Bonds (age, salery) as a scape goat for their own ineffective scouting and signing abilities.

    And based on what I have read, if a young player can’t pick upsomething of value from Bonds as a player, he’s not gonna go far in the game.

    A lot of players respect his knowledge and the few who have issues with him, they themselves are an issue somewhere else.

    Even with his current age and salery, Bonds has proven to be the best player on the team, thus good value for the money.

    I understand this is a business and any player that does not think so is in a world of hurt, but owners and executive to often use those two excuses in particular to hide their losey work and inability to field at least a competitive team

  29. HarveyDent Says:

    Sankofa

    The Giants weren’t interested in fielding a competitive team this season from my perspective because they have one of the oldest rosters in MLB. They re-signed Bonds to a one-year deal for the purpose of getting shine in the national media while he went after Aaron’s record. They didn’t give him any kind of assurances that he would be back after this season and Bonds should have known that.

    I probably would ride him until the wheels fell off but as you said front offices of these teams think they can win thru addition by subtraction. It doesn’t work and the Giants will find that out in ’08 as they watch Bonds lead his new team to a World Series title, hopefully.

  30. Brother

    I’m with you on that!

  31. CJ Scudworth Says:

    Fat, lazy, ugly sportswriters wish they were Tom Brady. Clutch, beloved and banging supermodels. That’s why they luv him…

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