• At Extracurriculars I wrote about another sportswriter-on-sportswriter rant (the best kind!) as Dave Kindred demolishes Dan Le Batard’s old canard (wow, that rhymes!) about “dumb” sportswriters, a slur updated for the digital age.
While Le Batard unleashed his fury at fellow traditionalists, the rancid nature of Deadspin once again reared its ugly head, venturing far beyond its usual poor taste to include an apparently complete absence of journalistic ethics. Not that Deadspin and ethics usually go in the same sentence anyway. That’s a lamentable tale all the way around.
• The always-provocative Jason Whitlock might have written one of the best columns of his life, about gay umpire Billy Van Raaphorst and the humiliating treatment he endured recently from Edmonton Capitals manager Brent Bowers. Most of the time Whitlock goes out of his way to ruffle feathers; in this case only unreconstructed bigots will be mad.
I was once invited to appear on a radio talk show hosted by former Major League umpire Dave Pallone, who was closeted during his time in the bigs. We were talking about women’s sports, and he was rather genial and mild-mannered on the air. But he didn’t take any flak on the field, most notably from Pete Rose in a fiery shoving incident that landed Charlie Hustle a 30-day supsension and a $10,000 fine. However, Pallone resigned in 1988 because over allegations involving a teenage sex ring. Although he was cleared, the damage had been done, and his orientation was soon revealed in a newspaper.
Van Raaphorst, whose father played in the NFL and who along with his brothers played some college football, reckons his falling ratings as a minor league arbiter coincided with his decision to live more openly. In addition to calling independent professional games he also is a college baseball umpire.
Pallone offers his thoughts about the Van Raaphorst flap, which like the Rose incident involved, in announcers’ parlance, a bang-bang play at first base. Bowers was forced to resign for his outburst, though he claimed he was just sticking up for his players. But as Whitlock recounts, he then offered a thoroughly unconvincing tut-tut mea culpa in lieu of a direct apology:
“My mom works with a lot of gay hairdressers and I joke around with those guys all the time. My cousin, she’s a lesbian. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as people are happy.”
Whitlock says he’s “uncomfortable” that some equate civil rights for blacks and gays. But if you alter the expletives he deleted, it’s no different at all.