Monday, September 7, 2009

The Readers Strike Back: L Millz

Angst writes: you just love that racial boogeyman don't ya? Can't believe I gotta side with the Wilpons but when your fledgling star sings bitch, ho and nigga on a rap album and you wanna sell a product to parents and children, they;re not racist, they're business men. F*** this moral safe house where everyone does it so he should be excused.

(I edited out that bad word beginning with F, because nobody should use bad words.)

I know you live in a fantasy world where racism ended 20 years ago, but the rest of us don't live there. To deny that the elements of racism exist is to turn a blind eye to a problem that will never go away. I ask you: are those dirty words really that big of a deal? I mean, if David Wright sang in a punk band and released a cover of "It's So Easy" by Guns N' Roses, would he have gotten the same treatment as Milledge?

Angst responds: I don't live in a fantasy world, of course racism exists. but yours is a perceived racism, a convenient excuse to lay blame. This is the organization that gave New York its first and second black managers and has poured millions of dollars into non-white players. When David Wright fronts a punk cover band you let me know. David though never angered his teammates and showed up the opponent, he didn't have to be investigated prior to draft for statutory rape and Wright don't show up an hour before game time. When the organization has to answer as to why one of their players records a song celebrating guns, drug use, and the objectification of woman, its a fast ticket out of town. I'm not the censorship police, but he gave management enough justification to trade him. To scream racism is narrow minded. Save your outrage for honest to God bigotry.

Like most people, you have to get your facts straight about Milledge.

* If I leave a handwritten note at your garage that says "Joe Falzarano molests collies," it doesn't mean you should be branded as someone who was investigated for bestiality. Therefore, perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to brand Milledge as someone investigated "prior to the draft for statutory rape" based on such incredibly flimsy evidence.

He was the target of an anonymous and ultimately unfounded accusation - an unsigned handwritten note that suggested he was receiving sexual favors from 13-year-old students at his high school. As that witch-hunt played out, Milledge (who was 17 at the time) eventually admitted to having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend. That's it. Read the story here.

Think of the term "statutory rape" and what it implies. Then realize what Lastings Milledge actually did and realize how inappropriate it is to apply that term to it. Google "Genarlow Wilson" to find out what can happen to black teenagers from the South who hook up with girls two years younger than them. Luckily for Lastings, he is from Florida and not Georgia, and didn't end up in jail for the heinous crime of getting some before the age of 18.

By the way, isn't it funny how you never hear of a white athlete getting caught up in a "scandal" like this? I guess white kids never have sex before the age of 18, and even then it only happens with other 18-year olds. Oh wait, I might be accused of conjuring up the racial boogeyman again instead of saving my outrage for honest to God bigotry. I'll be curious to see which category the Wilson case will fall into in your eyes.

* Milledge exchanged high-fives with fans when he returned to his position after hitting his first major league home run to tie the game with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning. He didn't show anyone up - he shared the enjoyment of a memorable moment on the baseball field with some of the paying customers. This is supposed to be indicative of a negative character issue? Where does this outrage over the perceived "showing up" of an opponent even come from? Who, exactly, decided that ignoring the fans during the game is considered a sign of good character, while engaging with them in the moment is a sign of bad character?

* Professional baseball is a job. Do you show up at your job two or three hours early each day so you can get better at it? Or do you show up on time, do your work and go home? I know you aren't pulling daily 11-hour shifts so you can become the best worker in your garage. Why, then, does Lastings Milledge have to show up early at this job?

Milledge's comments from the linked article: "You know, there's always a thing where, 'Oh, rookies have to be here 2-1/2 or three hours before stretch.' No. I'm not gonna be here three hours before stretch. If you're here and you get your work in, it shouldn't matter how early you're at the field. You know what you need to do. That's fine. You don't have to be at the park three, four hours before the park if you don't want. You don't see nobody clocking in three or four hours before they have to show up to work. So, I mean, some people feel like they have to get here to read the newspaper or do crossword puzzles or get their mind ready. I feel like I come to the park, I have 45 minutes of stuff I have to do to get prepared for practice and get ready for the game. Five minutes might be watching videos. Fifteen minutes might be going in the cage. And then getting whatever other work I need."

* On the rare occasions when you're late for work, does your boss single you out, publicly embarrass you and question your commitment to your job? Do your co-workers use your lateness as an opportunity to advance a negative agenda about you? Lastings Milledge's former co-workers did. You are continuing to do so.

* Milledge didn't record a song about guns, drug use, and the objectification of women, as you baselessly claim. He produced a song on his personal rap label for a childhood friend named Manny D called "Bend Ya' Knees." And yes, on that track he used language that he should have his mouth washed out with soap for. But there wasn't one lyric in that song that glorified guns and drug use. It doesn't excuse the objectification, but it's one more example of how, with Lastings Milledge, his critics are always willing to play fast and loose with the truth in an attempt to denigrate his charcater.

So let's review. Lastings Milledge had sex with his girlfriend as a teenager. He slapped hands with ecstatic fans after hitting his first major league home run. He goes to work on time instead of a few hours early. He said some bad words on his friend's rap album. "Character" issues like this have been used to paint him as a brooding malcontent, if not an outright thug.

But if I think that some of this silliness might have something to do with Milledge being black, I'm being narrow-minded.


joseph0176 said...

Hard to find lyrics to "Bend Ya Knees" but "gettin high makes a nigga flip like a pancake at IHOP" is just what little leagures around the country should adhere to. My bad on the gun reference though, musta confused it with that wonderful St. John's grad Ron Artest and his foray into hip hop.

Florida Statute Title XLVI Crimes Chapter 800. Look it up guy. Weather he did it or not is not my concern. All I said was that he was investigated, which he was by the county, the state attorney and then the Mets themselves.

You do hear about white athletes caught up in this kind of scandle. It called the Duke Lacross team.

The day in question, high fiving the fans, its just plain stupid to say he didn't show anybody up. He showed up Armando Benitez and the Giants. No one in either dugout was happy with his antics. You may think its okay to run the rail and give the fans a cheap thrill. but your opinion doesn't count for much. At least not as much as his teammates and the opponent. I never said its indicative of a negative character issue. Don't write lies.

And in 2006, his rookie year, he did show up only an hour before a game in Philly. But,ya know,I guess the team should run on Lastings schedule, cause thats what really matters.

Maybe you wanna try again. Cause I don't see where in your lengthy blog you've proven racism or proven that management wasn't justified in turning one player into two.

Jack Flynn said...

A few points:
* What do I care what Little Leaguers around the country should adhere to? I subscribe to the Charles Barkley School of Thought on athletes as role models.

The media wrongly painted it as a character issue, because that sells papers and attracts listeners. Mets fans with agendas adopted it as another reason to call Milledge a thug, and reporters/commentators with agendas adopted it as another reason to suggest the same idea.

* I looked up the law. As far as I can tell, it governs sexual behavior between persons 18 or over and 16 or under. That means that Milledge doesn't fall into that category, since he was 17 and sleeping with a 15-year-old. That must be why he was never indicted.

Again, Milledge was "investigated" based on an anonymous allegation with no proof ever offered. The idea that you would actually hold that against him only further supports my feeling that you are pursuing an agenda against him.

And let's be real here. I knew you when you were 17 years old. Don't get high and mighty and act as if you wouldn't have dated, and eventually had sex with, a 15-year-old if you started dating one. It sounds ugly from the position of our advanced ages, but let's not acted like we didn't want to hook up with Mary Louis sophomores when we were seniors.

* Members of the Duke lacrosse team were accused of rape. It was investigated and ultimately dismissed. Do you remember the names of three students who were accused? Is the fact that they were the subject of ultimately baseless allegations still held against them?

There was significantly more evidence of wrongdoing and negative character issues in the Duke situation then with Milledge. At the very least, strippers who were hired to perform at a private party who would've also provided sexual services to paying customers. One was degraded to an extent that she decided to claim it was a criminal matter in revenge.

Lastings Milledge had sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 17. Do you really not see the difference?

Again, the fact that you make such comparisons and act as though they are legitimate is further proof that you are pursuing an agenda and will go to extraordinary to tar Milledge's reputation in line with that agenda.

* You're still harping on this "showing up an hour before the game" thing. Have you ever been late for work? Do people still hold it against you three years later?

In closing, I don't think any one person or group can be labeled "racist" because of anything involving Milledge. I think that Milledge was quickly stereotyped by the New York media because of his appearance and his personality, and it snowballed every time a writer could interpret his words or actions within that stereotype.

The Mets are notorious for being too concerned with what's said in the paper or on the radio. They mistakenly interpreted the negative stereotyping as a serious problem, and Minaya traded Milledge away for pennies on the dollar. (From a baseball standpoint, Church/Schneider hasn't exactly been a bang-up deal for the Mets.)

Where does the alleged racism fit into all this? I freely admit that it's theoretical, because I have no proof that any one person had a specific agenda regarding Milledge.

I do know that the New York media is almost exclusively populated by white men, and the more prominent among them are middle-aged or older. The reaction to Milledge's alleged indiscretions became so over-the-top that it's hard for me to believe something else wasn't at play.

The endless focus on the cornrows. The wooden cross around his neck in his first game. High-fives with the fans. Showing up late to the park once and not showing up early enough the rest of time. It's ridiculous.

Last point for me in this whole debate: go back and look at some of the links to articles from the past and read the comments sections. Then tell me that racism has nothing to do with Lastings Milledge's perception in this town.