Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Good Old U.S. of Gay

A rather humorous site that shows the ridiculous nature of anti-gay rhetoric, in the context of the election.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

An Imperfect Diamond

I love baseball - a lot. In fact, I love baseball more than most things in this world (obvious exceptions being family, friends, my cat, etc.). At this point, I may even love baseball more than men's professional tennis since the Humble Master of that sport, Pete Sampras, made his graceful exit.

There are an infinite number of things to love about baseball:
  • the fun lingo (balks, bang-bang play, can of corn, Mendoza line, painting the black, on the screws, basket catch - the list goes on...)
  • the endless, unnecessary, mind-numbingly in-depth statistics
  • the unique angles of every individual MLB stadium
  • the excitement felt during a developing no-hitter or perfect game
  • the sheer number of games MLB teams play each year, with most of them demonstrating heart through the end of the season, even when they have no shot of making the playoffs
  • that ball that bounced off of Jose Canseco's head into the stands that one time (wish it had happened more)
  • ...again, the list could go on forever
And baseball has offered some truly beautiful and agonizing moments (the four that follow are, obviously, personal recollections of sheer joy or defeat):
But, you know what? I also hate baseball. And the closing innings of today's Red Sox/Yankees game was the perfect incarnation of all the repulsive aspects of the game. No, the petty disputes didn't devolve into another raucus brawl (mostly due to the responsible and effective work of the umpiring crew), but it was disturbingly vile nonetheless.

Apparently, Lofton had exchanged words with Mientkiewicz at first base earlier in the game, so Astacio felt the childish need to throw at Kenny. He missed once, feigned that he was a REAL baseball player for one more pitch, then repeated his first unsuccessful plunking attempt. He was tossed - and deservedly so. Both teams received warnings. Fast forward to the bottom of the inning - Dave Roberts is nearly drilled in the skull by Halsey's first pitch of the half inning. Benches clear, Halsey and Torre are ejected - again deservedly so.

If you were watching the game on ESPN2, you heard the utterly inane commentary by a couple dweebs, whose names are escaping my memory, following these events. These aforementioned dweebs essentially implied that this ugliness was simply a "part of the game." (They may have moderated that claim with the adjective "unfortunate.") They also implied that baseball fans should expect this type of macho, eye-for-an-eye retribution bullshit.

Well, I'm sorry, but no. Throwing a ball 90 miles per hour at someone's head was never in the minds of early players of various incarnations of this beautiful sport. I've never read the entire MLB rulebook, but I will pledge allegiance forever to the Evil Empire that is the Yankees if there is a byline somewhere stipulating that it is perfectly acceptable behavior for a pitcher to nail an opposing hitter if he feels this player has committed some small affront against one of his teammates or himself. The MLB playing field is home to too many amazing feats of athleticism to also be home to such a "you-stole-my-cookie-so-now-I-throw-a-Lego-at-you" attitude.

The fact that this attitude all-too-often prevails does not, my dear baseball commentators, solidify it as "part of the game." As journalists, they should be ashamed to sanction the asinine behavior of individual idiots by normalizing it in such a way. They tarnish the sport and look like fools while doing it. (To be fair, these two particular commentators aren't the sole targets of this rant; I hear commentators make the argument about pitchers needing to "protect" their teammates or "defend their team's honor" by throwing at the opposing team all of the time. And you know what? Those guys are idiots too.)

If the Sox and Yankees do end up meeting in the 2004 ALCS - and my hope is for nothing else in the world - all signs point to this intense and awesome rivalry resulting in another brawl. Will baseball fans expect it? Yes. Should they have to? God, no.

I'm not sure when this brute, troglodyte mentality became so prevalent in the game - or maybe I'm wrong and it's always been there - but it is not part of the baseball game that I know and love that leads to tears and screams of alternately joy and agony; that captivates entire cities during certain series or playoff games; that inspires millions of boys and girls around the world to pester their parents for their first baseball mitts. No. This behavior is the result of players' kneejerk reactions to tense situations that are based on the arcane cultural expectations about the proper demonstration of masculine loyalty through violence. I'm guessing this shit makes a lot of honorable baseball players roll over in their graves, and it absolutely makes me want to vomit to see such a thing of beauty made ugly by a bunch of guys striving to fit into society's male cookie cutter. least the Sox won. The game wasn't a complete waste.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Vote Your (Red) Conscience

Minnesota favorites The Soviettes are in the running for Punk Radio Cast's Top 40 Sunday Count Down. Your vote could make the difference. They're currently in 18th place, so take advantage of the one daily vote you're allowed to push 'em up a little higher. Come on, give the kids some love.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Around the Horn

  • I can't believe this is my first post to mention either Kristin Hersh or Throwing Muses, yet my archives shamefully reveal that to be the case. My motivation for today's post was the discovery of this interview with Kristin (at Junkmedia) about the music industry and her new band, 50 Foot Wave. She has some awesome insights into the money-grubbingness of the biz, due to her own Muses financially-challenged experiences, and also continues to surprise (well, me, at least) with her unrelenting attraction to the domestic life. [NOTE: If the links to the ThrowingMusic website don't work, you may have to navigate around it yourself to see the bios for KH, TM, and 50'~. All apologies, but, really, how lazy are you?]

  • Check out New Patriot, an exciting new site created by a group of leftist Minnesota bloggers, where the posting's already been fast and furious three days into its existence.

  • And, given my post title, there's got to be a baseball story included, so celebrate with me now the most recent Red Sox victory over Oakland.

Friday, September 03, 2004

A Glass Shield

After spouting about the disastrous conclusion to the Kobe Bryant trial to my friends and housemates for a couple days now, I decided it would be worthwhile to back up my wild-eyed, teeth-gnashing, fear-inspiring orations with some actual knowledge of Rape Shield Laws.

Before I get into the policy wonk discussion, though, let me make something clear. I don't claim to know whether or not Bryant is guilty or innocent of the rape charges. That, my friends, is not the point. The point is that the woman who filed the charges should have been guaranteed fair treatment under Colorado's Rape Shield Law, which entitles her to some privacy and protection regarding unearthing her past sexual history.

Due to some reprehensible failings of the judicial system, the accuser was not, in fact, protected. Her name and past sexual history were not only discussed in court, but they were also "inadvertently" released to the media and made fodder for anyone who damn well wanted to discuss it.

This unconscionable behavior led one rape victim advocate to state, "I feel like we have stepped back in time 30 years, back to a time when confidentiality was not guaranteed and when the victim's sex life was up for scrutiny."

Indeed, a 2003 summary of Rape Shield Laws by the American Prosecutors Research Institute indicates that, on the face of it, Colorado's law wasn't all bad. According to the actual text of Colorado's law, (also courtesy of an APRI compilation of Rape Shield Laws):

(1) Evidence of specific instances of the victim's or a witness' prior or subsequent sexual conduct, opinion evidence of the victim's or a witness' sexual conduct, and reputation evidence of the victim's or a witness' sexual conduct shall be presumed to be irrelevant except:
(a) Evidence of the victim's or witness' prior or subsequent sexual conduct with the actor;
(b) Evidence of specific instances of sexual activity showing the source or origin of semen, pregnancy, disease, or any similar evidence of sexual intercourse offered for the purpose of showing that the act or acts charged were or were not committed by the defendant.

While we can get into debates over how point (a) creates complications for women who wish to make rape charges against their husbands, I don't want to debate that point now. What's really shocking to me, and what completes the full mocking of the law by the defense attorneys, is that Bryant's accuser was forced to discuss her sexual history during a period that covered up to a year before she said she was raped. Obviously, any of those sexual encounters would not have been relevant to semen or other evidence of sexual intercourse from the day of or the day after the alleged rape. And, as far as I know, the woman was not claiming that the alleged rape resulted in a pregnancy or an STD, so what the f**k?

And let's not even get into how her name was "leaked" and how she will forever be known as dear Kobe's accuser.

So this is what an apparently "strong" rape shield law will get you - the opportunity to be internationally known as the woman who accused a beloved, talented athlete, as well as the - lucky you! - chance to describe in detail every sexual encounter you've had in the past year. I can't even imagine how rape victims who live in, say, Kentucky and Louisiana, feel. Their states' laws allow evidence to be regarded as admissible if "the probative value of the evidence outweighs the danger of unfair prejudice." What sweet language to describe a process in which, more likely than not, a man is going to decide the balance between "probative value" and "unfair prejudice."

If you don't believe there's an institutional bias against women in the legal system, then I strongly suggest you read Martha Chamallas' Introduction to Feminist Legal Theory. Or, just pick up your local newspaper and read about the outcome of the Bryant trial.

Or about the already nauseating discussions taking place in the media about the new accusations against William Kennedy Smith. Yeah, you just try to explain to a patriarchal legal system how you can be raped by a man and then have a consensual sexual relationship with him following the rape. I'm not admitting there's an absolute logic in the actions of a woman who would behave in such a way, but who are we to decide what is regarded as logical to any other person? And, as far as I understand it, the legal system isn't the arbiter of who's-more-logical-in-their-behavior award contests. Courts are supposed to uphold the law, and it is clear that the Colorado courts failed miserably. Don't hold your breath for Illinois' to perform any better.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

"It's obviously embarrassing."

And pretty freakin' cool. 22-0. Isn't that a football score? Not that I'm feeling all confident about the Division, or even the Wild Card, but this loss made me very, very happy.

Worst loss in Yankees history!

And Dan Shaughnessy on last night's Bronx dive and what it means for the Sox.