The Most Interesting Fantasy Sports Dispute Ever Edition

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Speaker 1: The following podcast contains naughty language.

Speaker 2: Hi. I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor. And this is Hang Up and Listen for the week of May 31st, 2022. On this week’s show, Jack Hamilton is back to talk about how the Warriors-Celtics made it through the conference finals and what to look for in the NBA Finals. Then baseball writer Bradford William Davis will join us for a couple of segments about suspensions. First, the Yankees Josh Donaldson got a one game penalty for calling baseball’s biggest black star, the White Sox Tim Anderson Jackie. Then on Tommy Pham getting forced to sit out three games for slapping Jock Peterson over an extremely intricate fantasy football dispute. I’m in Washington, D.C., and I’m the author of The Queen and the host of the podcast One Year. Stefan FATSIS is off this week. But you know who’s back? Live on tape from California. Slate staff writer, host of Not One But Two Seasons of Slow Burn. Mr. Joel Anderson.

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Speaker 1: Hey, what’s up, man? Glad to be back. You missed me.

Speaker 2: I missed you. I think Stefan missed you, too. I know Stefan missed, you know.

Speaker 1: But Stefan missed me. I heard from Stefan while I was off, you know? Not, not, not, not, not. Not from you and Kevin so much. But that’s fine. I’ll live with it. But that’s.

Speaker 2: Okay. We all. We all express our missing you and in our own ways. But now it’s so, so great to see you again. So great to have you back on the show.

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Speaker 1: Yeah, man. Yeah, I was off for people that don’t know. I had my first little baby. I guess my wife actually had the baby, and and I’m here to assist. But yes, I was on the first stint of my parental leave and it was not exactly vacation, but it was good to be off and get to learn how to do this thing, see how it works.

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Speaker 2: Lucky kid. And we’re lucky to have you back, too.

Speaker 1: Thanks, man.

Speaker 1: Game one of the NBA Finals starts Thursday night, late Thursday night, if you’re on the East Coast between the Boston Celtics and the host Golden State Warriors to get there, the Warriors closed out the Dallas Mavericks and five games in the Western Conference finals. And in the East. The Celtics messed around and lost a late lead, but managed to hold on and beat the Heat in Miami in Game seven. That set up a finals between two of the league’s premier franchises, its oldest standard bearer, against its latest dynasty. Today, we bring back our good friend Jack Hamilton, who’s been writing about the NBA’s playoffs for Slate. He is also Slate’s pop critic and an associate professor of American Studies in Media Studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Just Around Midnight Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination. Thanks for joining us today, Jack.

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Speaker 3: Hey, guys. Thanks so much for having me back.

Speaker 1: Of course. So in your most recent piece for Slate titled What the Golden State Warriors Have to Fear, you wrote, The future appears bright and Golden State, but it’s nothing like the present. And no amount of foresight can stop the fact that the greatest NBA teams are always unique and finite occurrences. There won’t be anything quite like this Warriors team ever again. So do you think the finals will be a coming out party or curtain call for these warriors?

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Speaker 3: Yeah, I mean, it’s a great question. You know, that’s why they play the games, as they say. But yeah, I mean, what the Warriors are trying to do is like pretty astonishing if they’re able to do it, you know, like this is their first title that they won with this group was now eight seasons ago. And it’s basically yeah, I mean this is the core of this team is pretty similar to the core of the team that won their first title back in 2015. You know, it’s Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson all still. They’re all still playing at a fairly high level. So yeah, you know, if they win, I think it will establish them as kind of one of the great dynasties that this sport has seen. And, you know, unfortunately, I think if they lose, there’s probably going to be, you know, the the requisite chatter about, you know, not being able to get it done without Kevin Durant, for instance, you know, who was there for the for the last titles.

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Speaker 3: And, you know, there’s always been these sort of weird, I don’t know, sort of people whispering about Steph’s, you know, quote unquote, legacy. I think of the Warriors when it will establish certainly this core. And specifically Steph Curry is probably, you know, top ten player of all time pretty convincingly. And I think if they don’t win, yeah, it’s it’ll it’ll be interesting to look back on how this team is remembered, particularly because they’re getting older, you know, and it’s like there’s really no guarantee, as I kind of mentioned in the piece you quoted, like there’s no guarantee that they’re going to be able to get back there a whole bunch more times. I mean, maybe that will be, but we don’t know.

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Speaker 2: The thing that’s fascinating about this Warriors team and we can bring in the Celtics, too, is that, you know, neither of these teams are one of the greatest teams of all time or one of the greatest teams of the last ten years. And we’ve talked about it during these playoffs a bunch Jack about how the. This feels kind of like a bookend to the Superteam era that the heat started in those transcendent Heat teams, the Warriors team with Kevin Durant. I think we would all probably imagine that those teams would would be either of the teams that are in these finals.

Speaker 2: And yet both the Warriors and the Celtics of 2022 are kind of a testament to something more enduring and something that feels more kind of solid and independent of era. And that, you know, both gets at the fact that you have this core of the warriors that’s been there for eight years. There’s something like very kind of solid. There’s a foundation there that has led to championships.

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Speaker 2: And then with the Celtics, Jack, you have this team where for years now there’s been a kind of hammering away at this idea of, you know, should we keep Tatum and Brown together? Are the Celtics like screwing up this amazing hall of draft picks that they had by not adding a superstar player? And so, you know, both teams in their own ways just feel like kind of answer to the question of how to build a team and how to build it to last.

Speaker 3: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that, you know, the Celtics this is certainly I mean, the Celtics are a young team, but this does still feel have the feeling of them kind of getting over a hump that they had. You know, this team has been to the conference finals a number of times with Tatum and Brown and having this is the first time they’ve been able to break through to the finals. But yeah, I think you’re right that we are seeing at least a lull in the quote unquote superteam era. I mean, we’ve certainly had super teams still, you know, in the Clippers, for instance, or the Nets, you know, you could say the Lakers probably, too. But, you know, they are they all were of various shades of disappointment this year. But yeah, the Celtics definitely, you know, are mostly a homegrown team in terms of having drafted most of their core players and really developed them. And so are the Warriors.

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Speaker 3: You know, this is certainly something Draymond, Klay and Steph have been, you know, they’ve only played for that one team their whole careers and certainly both teams have have made some very good additions. You know, I mean Al Horford has been really invaluable for the Celtics in his second stint with the team and similarly the Warriors adding Andrew Wiggins, who’s been, you know, a really tremendous contributor. We talked about him last week as someone who, you know, they acquired via a trade, a trade that was second guessed by some people at the time and has just turned out to look completely brilliant. So, yeah, certainly, you know, these are teams that have had some changes, but there’s also a lot of stability with them.

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Speaker 1: To build on that point. Like I’ve always sort of talked about, if you have a really good team to just lean into it, right? That there’s no need to tear apart a team that has a superstar. So and maybe some pieces around them and maybe they fall short one year. And I think kind of the Celtics and the Warriors are good examples of that because there was a lot of especially out here in the bay like the last couple of years, they’re like, Oh, well, maybe Steph should move on and they should try to rebuild the team. And with the Celtics, you know, they ran up against, you know, so many other great teams for so long and maybe they should start over and trade their core or whatever.

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Speaker 1: And I’m always like, That’s dumb because you just never know what’s going to happen. You don’t know who’s going to get hurt and what year, what opportunity is going to emerge. You know, what players are going to start clicking and finally the light comes on. Don’t you think that kind of this final sort of is a good example of that? Because nobody would think that these Warriors are Celtics teams or the best versions of the teams that they’ve ever been. But they caught some breaks and here they are.

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Speaker 2: But and it’s not even that they kept themselves to that together. It’s like a step further than that. And you kind of alluded to it, Jack. It’s like they kind of reconstituted themselves even further by, like getting Al Horford again and getting Daniel twice again until like really leaning in. Hard to not just staying together but like becoming even more themselves than they ever were before.

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Speaker 3: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, what’s happened with the Celtics is really is pretty remarkable. You know, this was a team that was very disappointing in the first part of the season, as I say that as a as a Bostonian. And yeah, that was certainly something that, you know, the turnaround that they’ve made. But it has been yeah, as Joel was mentioning, like it’s a testament to, I think, kind of staying the course and patience.

Speaker 3: And, you know, it’s been really amazing to see the development of some of the younger players, you know, Robert Williams and Grant Williams, who are guys that they drafted, you know, and sort of the late first round. And I think Celtics fans in the organization always, you know, believed in their heart that these guys could become really, really good players. And it’s actually happened, you know, and they haven’t they didn’t give up on them. They didn’t they didn’t give up on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown being able to play together, which was certainly, you know, earlier this season, there was a lot of consternation about, you know, whether those guys can play together and things like that. And certainly Marcus Smart, who’s, you know, the longest, I think I think he’s the longest tenured Celtic and someone who they drafted back in 2014 and who’s just been with the team the whole time and has been this really, you know, kind of steadying influence. And it’s just there is something really validating, I think, about seeing these guys break through.

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Speaker 3: But, you know, the Warriors. That’s absolutely right. You know, the Warriors, as Joel was saying, there was, you know, this idea of like, oh, are they too old? Do they need to rebuild? And the organization had pursued this pretty interesting strategy of trying to inject younger players into, you know, around the core three. So you have, you know, a rookie like Jonathan Kuminga, who’s really, really exciting. And it’s pretty rare that you have a team that, you know, is this good that also has like an exciting lottery pick who’s a rookie. So yeah, they’re both very interesting and impressive kind of experiments and team building and also just team maintenance.

Speaker 1: And it’s not like the Warriors were perfect in getting this right because they picked James Wiseman when they could have had Lamelo ball, you know, like, Oh, look, imagine how different that team looks, even if they have Lamelo Ball instead of Wiseman, who’s not even playing for them right now, right?

Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, Wiseman could still end up being the guy that carries them forward, you know, 3 to 5.

Speaker 1: What do you mean? Like getting, you know, getting some picks for him or something, or. What do you mean? Like, yeah, well.

Speaker 2: It actually doesn’t like Lamelo Ball is an amazing, amazing player. It seems hard to imagine that the Warriors would be much better with him than they are with Jordan Poole. It’s just like he he would be like probably a better fit on the Celtics than he would be on the Warriors. But yeah, I mean, you’re you’re obviously right that Wiseman has been has done nothing for them. And yet there they are where they are.

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Speaker 2: Before we kind of linger too much on on the future, I want to go back to the Celtics nearly falling game seven against the Heat and just like the absolute like confluence of of narrative and we’ve we’ve talked about this before too just like the degree to which players are perhaps even more conscious and self-conscious about narrative than even like fans and pundits are. I think of Jayson Tatum wearing the Kobe Bryant number 24 armband during the game.

Speaker 1: So I like Jayson Tatum. I followed his career since he was in high school. But I mean, that’s just come on.

Speaker 2: I mean, I like him a little bit less after he did that. Like, obviously, Kobe Bryant meant so much to this generation of players and everyone has taken his death extremely hard. And so it’s it’s it’s not it feels a little bit churlish, you know, even with all the, shall we say, complexity of Kobe Bryant’s legacy to really hit him too hard for that. But just like I, I will never forget Kobe Bryant shooting six for 24 to lead the Lakers to a win over the Celtics in game seven of the NBA Finals. And I believe that was against the Celtics, was it not?

Speaker 1: Right. Yeah.

Speaker 2: It’s it’s so BoJack, isn’t it so funny how like players legacies and teams legacies get sort of like remixed and refashioned in such a short amount of time, because I would guess that in 2010, we’re probably having. A very different conversation about Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and the Celtics.

Speaker 2: And to imagine that the Celtics best player would in 2022 be wearing an armband of the Lakers best player, Kobe Bryant, as some sort of signifier of like Game seven greatness and clutch ness and would then lead his team to victory over a player who played way better than anyone on the Celtics in Game seven and yet missed the three pointer at the end and Jimmy Butler and then did not win the new Larry Bird Eastern Conference MVP award. Despite clearly being the best player in the series. It’s just like a very interesting set of like data points, unlike how we remember and talk about players in games instantly and then kind of in the very recent past.

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Speaker 3: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny, I’m old enough to remember, you know, Kobe’s own like really, really cloying obsession with Michael Jordan, you know, and like that just I remember at the time just feeling like that was like so corny how obsessed he was with Jordan and sort of paying all these tributes to him. So it’s now kind of weird seeing this new and you’re totally right, this generation of players is completely obsessed with with Kobe Bryant. You know, it’s not just Tatum, it’s Devin Booker and a lot of other guys as well kind of worship him.

Speaker 2: Is it like sort of a rock and roll thing of just like when guys die at a particular age in a particular moment then they.

Speaker 1: I don’t think so because I feel like he had a hold over his contemporaries and the generation that came right after him in a way that even LeBron doesn’t. Right. That there’s a lot of mythology.

Speaker 2: That’s.

Speaker 1: True around him that just did just that nobody else seemingly can touch or has been able to touch since then. Right.

Speaker 3: Yeah, totally. And part of it was very cultivated by Kobe. I mean, to his credit, like he did spend a lot of time with young players, you know, and took on this role of being sort of a mentor figure to a bunch of these guys. But yeah, he does have a very specific position kind of in the firmament of of, you know, old star players. And I think certainly his, you know, tragic death contributed to that. But I 100% agree with Joel that it was it was very much there prior to his death. I mean, I think the death has put it into a sort of different register. But, yeah, he was certainly someone who was a touchstone for a lot of these younger players for for a very long time prior to that.

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Speaker 1: Jack is a guy who, you know, a longtime Celtics fan, whatever. Right. Did you think the Jimmy Butler shot was going to go in when he took it?

Speaker 3: Man, I was I was just in such a state watching that fourth quarter. I ended up rewatching it again the next morning just because I was like I was like emotionally so on overdrive. Yeah. I mean, I think my heart was, you know, in my throat when he took that shot. It’s the kind of game that like. And not to sound like Bill Simmons or something.

Speaker 4: But like.

Speaker 3: If you’re a Boston sports fan, like that kind of game, you’re like, oh my God, we’re just going to lose. Like, this is like it feels, oh.

Speaker 1: No, no.

Speaker 2: I mean, the Celtics won like.

Speaker 1: In the South.

Speaker 2: Having won a million a million championships. And wait, Boston sports fans, haven’t they’ve been successful in other sports recently.

Speaker 1: Yeah, screw you. I mean.

Speaker 2: What a stupid what a stupid thing to say right there.

Speaker 3: Sports memory is the 1986 World Series. Okay.

Speaker 2: You know, come on, get over it. Get over it.

Speaker 3: No, but yeah. So, I mean, I always definitely I mean, especially with Butler, who’d been so good in that series, like when he put that shot up. Yeah. I mean, I think I was sort of surprised at that. It didn’t go in and I was surprised at the Celtics, you know, despite their best efforts seemingly to lose that game, you know, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat or whatever it is.

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Speaker 2: I mean, thank God that shot didn’t go in. Honestly, I’m like, I will confess, despite being not a fan of the whole Boston.

Speaker 1: So let’s say.

Speaker 2: That I do like that. I do like Tatum and Brown. I like this Celtics team. And also it’s just going to be so much better of a series. Yeah. Like watching the heat, like, try to make a shot against the Warriors. I mean, these playoffs have been a disappointment since that first round. And, you know, the Celtics certainly have it in them to play badly. We’ve seen that repeatedly throughout these playoffs and they have, but they also have it in them to make other teams look bad, too. And so it’s something that I think anticipation should be high, hopefully unlike other series that will live up to the anticipation. But you know that the Warriors seem like kind of the betting favorite, the analytical favorite is the Celtics. You know, it it will be interesting to see what happens and hopefully will be interesting stylistically, too.

Speaker 3: Yeah, definitely. I think you know, I think there’s a consensus around most basketball fans who’ve been watching these playoffs. I would say that, you know, especially when you factor in injuries and things like that, that I think these are the two the two best teams. And this is definitely a finals where it doesn’t feel like either of these teams was sort of a fluke finals entry. And I think I think it’ll be a really good series. And I think they’re, you know, a stat you’re going to hear a lot you’re going to get so sick of it is that the Celtics are the only team with a winning record against the Warriors since Steve Kerr became coach.

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Speaker 3: So they are they’re they’re pretty well matched and I think it’ll be yeah, it could potentially be a really a really excellent series, particularly on the heels of what I think most people feel like we’re pretty lackluster conference finals series. You know, the Warriors made pretty easy hay of the Mavs in the Celtics series, even though it went to seven games like was pretty brutal to watch a lot of the time. Like they’re really, you know, as we talked about last week, there really just weren’t very many really good games in that series. I mean, Game seven was probably the best game of that series that we got.

Speaker 1: Not to be annoying narrative guy, but it’s probably come up a few times. But I’m sure people are going to not make anything of the fact that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving left their respective teams to build something special. And now those teams are in the finals and they got swept in the first round. But anyway, Jack, thanks so much for joining us again and good luck to your Celtics. And I say that as a Bay Area resident. I hope I hope they pull it off.

Speaker 3: Thanks, guys. This is great. Thanks again for having me on.

Speaker 1: Up next, we’ll have insiders bradford William Davis on to talk about the white sox as Tim Anderson and his dispute with the yankees Josh Donaldson.

Speaker 2: Three years ago, Sports Illustrated Stephanie Apstein published a piece headlined Tim Anderson is Going to Play the Game His Way. That story begins. Tim Anderson’s baseball life is often a lonely one, even when he’s on first base, usually the most social stop on the diamond. My conversation is limited over there, he says. It’s like, What’s up, dude? What’s up, man? How are you doing today? Because we don’t have nothing in common. The piece goes on to note that Anderson was then one of only 72 black players in Major League Baseball and that he felt out of place in the sport like he belongs on the field, but not in the game. And then a bit later in the story, after mention of the work that Anderson does to help introduce inner city Chicago kids to baseball, he said, I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson. That’s huge to say. But it’s cool, man, because he changed the game and I feel like I’m getting to a point where I need to change the game.

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Speaker 2: All right. Fast forward to a little more than a week ago. Another player, the Yankees Josh Donaldson, threw that quote back in Anderson’s face, calling him Jackie on the field. That comment led to Donaldson getting suspended for a game and the Yankees player, for some reason, apologizing to Jackie Robinson’s widow. Joining us now is Bradford William Davis. He is an investigative reporter for Insider and he wrote about Tim Anderson and Josh Donaldson for Defector last week.

Speaker 2: Welcome back to the show.

Speaker 4: Yo, thank you for having me.

Speaker 2: Great to have you. And I’m grateful to have you here to walk us through what happened here in a bit more detail and maybe explain what sort of interactions Donaldson and Anderson had had before this. And I guess there’s a little bit of a difference of opinion between them on what the kind of nature of their relationship was.

Speaker 4: Yeah, difference of opinion isn’t even a half of it. Derek Tim Anderson almost directly refutes with Josh Donaldson said their relationship was but to start with Donaldson side of the story. Apparently in 2019, after that Sports Illustrated profile, Josh took delivery, took it upon himself to begin calling Tim Anderson Jackie. Tim Anderson did not appreciate that in the moment, but Josh Donaldson said that that he laughed about it, and so he continued to do that during the 2022 season, which is right now.

Speaker 4: And. Tim John, back after hearing it a couple of times in the field during a heated Yankees White Sox game. Benches cleared and you know, they had their words. No one, no punches thrown, but they were definitely almost there. But as Tim calls it, he never appreciated that. He always felt that that was out of pocket for him to be calling him his calling him Jackie because. They’re not friends like that, I guess. He said that something that something defective. If you speak to me like that, we don’t have to talk anymore. That’s what Tim Anderson said. And.

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Speaker 4: And so from James, from Tim side, which is a side I happen to believe is the true side here. Josh had continue the needle and continued to provoke him. And they had already had a they’d already had the both times and already had a scuffle in the week prior during the game that they played. So he was so there was already bad blood simmering when that happened and it exploded into what we saw on the last week and a half.

Speaker 1: You know, in the days since then, obviously, there’s been a lot of, you know, reaction around the league, even at Yankee Stadium, that, you know, the day after this kind of blew up. Who do you think? Because you talk about there’s a difference of opinion, but it goes beyond that. Like this is a totally you know, they don’t dare even coming from front in the same point. Who do you think story has resonated the most within baseball? Right. Like, I’m not asking you about outside of that, but within baseball, who do you think people believe are side with the most in this case here?

Speaker 4: It’s a great question. It feels a little like a civil war. I can’t say like one side is definitely over the other because, I mean, I only have my circle people and I try not to hang out with people who invoke disease and goaded civil rights icons to mock me.

Speaker 1: So, like.

Speaker 4: I just don’t have a good sample. But I will say that that a lot of the players that I’ve spoken to who felt that Josh Donaldson is a known instigator and has kind of a rep, and so there was a decent amount of frustration that he that he went there. However, many fans, including like the baseball community, include fans were quite, you know, and particularly Yankees fans that were very sympathetic towards Josh Donaldson because they felt that he was just busting balls and that Tim brought it upon himself to get mocked by, I guess, you know, again I mean that’s like but DC civil rights icon police. And respect their Josh Donaldson for drawing a comparison between himself and his hero. So that is so there really.

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Speaker 4: So there are I think there really are two minds that and then somewhere in the middle are people who maybe don’t approve of what Josh Donaldson said, thought it was maybe unwise, but felt that he didn’t mean anything by it and that it was ultimately just him being a troll but not doing something with a clear racial animus underlying the trolling. Basically we don’t know the contents of his heart.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 1: Real quick to follow up here. So there’s those three sides of this, right, of looking at it. And I’m just curious to know if you all are surprised that, you know, Tony La Russa is Tim Anderson’s manager. Of course. Right. So, I mean, in some ways he has the right form, but that he wrote for him so hard. I mean, Tony La Russa is a guy who, I mean, was openly supported the Tea Party, you know, brought, you know, Albert Pujols to a Glenn Beck rally. You know, I mean, like this is not the guy that you would think would be lining up with Tim Anderson. And so to me, that sort of says a little something, doesn’t it? Even like even if you just even if even if you just except okay, look, a manager kind of has to side with his players, but for him to come out so vocally and defend Tim in this instance says a little something, doesn’t it?

Speaker 4: Yeah. I think that that part is a little overplayed, to be perfectly honest, because one, it is his manager and so he had his back. And so that’s not totally uncommon for a manager to have his back despite the. Perhaps different politics of values that Anderson La Russa may have. The other thing is that Tony La Russa has allegedly been a strong supporter of whether or not Bruce Maxwell, who some may remember as a former catcher with the Oakland A’s, that a couple of cups of coffee, a very marginal player, not Tim Anderson and totally different spectrum as far as their skill and performance anyway in the field. But is someone who kneeled during the anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick back in 2017.

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Speaker 4: So, right, so right after cap because it was essentially exile and football and and according to Bruce like and he’s very vocal about this Tony La Russa supported me and which is again is interesting given that Tony La Russa was was critical of San Francisco Giants manager game cap wear for choosing to have to stage a similar protest during the anthem this year.

Speaker 4: But I think Tony is the kind of person, the kind of person who believes that everyone should be allowed to do what they want. Even if I disagree with your methods and approach, kind of like, you know, I’ll die for your right to do something that pisses me off. You know, that kind of conservative sort of approach to things is the GOP that we need in this country, as some might say. So that’s that’s kind of what I think, Tony, is coming from here, you know. You know, whether you want to call him a hashtag ally in the fight is, you know, I think a another subject I don’t want to debate here, but I do think that he does believe in the right of people to express themselves.

Speaker 2: I mean, Tony La Russa is though like a big play, the game the right way guy. And I do seem to recall that he’s like criticized guys on his own team for quote unquote, not playing the game the right way. But this is like intersects like so many different kind of baseball third rails because, you know, Bradford Tim Anderson has been a guy who the league has celebrated in ad campaigns for being somebody who brings excitement to the game. He celebrates who, you know, tosses it, flips his bat and stuff. But there is, like we’ve been saying, the strong undercurrent and not always an undercurrent of people in and around the game who don’t support behavior like that prominently to most prominently, Tony La Russa. And sort of, you know, I think it’s important for people that don’t follow the sports in this context.

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Speaker 2: Tim Anderson is an amazing, amazing player. Like one of the best players in the game was hitting in the 350 years right before he got hurt recently and is just a superstar in the game. And so sort of like somebody like Bryce Harper, right? Like somebody who both is a great player but also is like, you know, likes to celebrate his own greatness as as so many of us like to do. So how much of this is about kind of Tim Anderson and the way that he is? Received in the game versus, you know, how this would play out with any other player.

Speaker 4: I think that with Tim, he is yes, he’s definitely very celebrated. But baseball does have this culture that he’s rubbing against, which is the whole angle of that Sports Illustrated profile from three years ago and. He’s a lightning rod because of that. Because he is so aggressively. Being himself. And he is a bombastic, boisterous person who loves to have fun and so and celebrate his wins whenever they come.

Speaker 4: And and so it’s there’s an importance to getting this right, I think. I’m not sure exactly how the league seasons, but, you know but I think certainly many fans would see this. You know certainly you know some of the players have spoken to as well. Like there is a importance in getting you right that you don’t have too many Tim Anderson frankly, you have more Bryce Harper than you have Tim Anderson even though Bryce Harper is more Salvatore than the generation before him. Because, you know, because he’s he’s so talented and so charismatic and and a proudly black American men in this game.

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Speaker 4: So it calls him, I guess, into the question, the suspension being so short, in my opinion, given that people have instigated a lot less and gotten more more games in the past, I want to say like Amir Garrett, like a few games for just kind of looking the wrong way. That caused a ruckus. And granted, Amir Garrett is a repeat offender, right? Amir Guy being a reliever turner since I want to see the Cincinnati Reds now, I know the Royals. He’s me, but so is Josh Donaldson. Josh Donaldson has been at this for a decade. He’s he’s been he’s he’s always that guy. It is a it’s part of what makes him great in some ways because he because he also plays a supreme confidence and celebrates wins. But he. But you know but is but is a big reason why a lot of people don’t like them. Like I mean, you know, I do think the baseball of it all, this person really and him being so different from the culture that was handed to him is a big reason why this is drawing the attention that it has.

Speaker 1: So stepping back for a second, what do you all think resonates the most here? Is it Tim Anderson and his celebration of himself in the game? Right. That like Tim Anderson is a guy who’s one of the best players in the league, makes no bones about it and celebrates himself at every opportunity, which is great. Like, that’s awesome. And that that’s drawn him some attention to himself.

Speaker 1: Or is it that he’s referred to himself as basically being alone out there? And, you know, the fact that the Josh Donaldson or whatever out there to antagonize him and he seems sort of lonely in this this journey, right? Like I’m I guess I was trying to figure, like, as this happened, like if you’re a young black baseball player, like let’s say you’re 11 years old and you’re trying to make a decision about what sport do I really want to play? I’m just like, What? Which of these two things do you think would resonate the most? Is it Tim Anderson’s greatness or the way that it is regarded in the way that it’s treated, you know, over the past few years?

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Speaker 4: I certainly hope it’s him because he, I think, responded in a perfect way. And then the next day he hit a massive three run home run to secure a doubleheader sweep against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. And that entire day, fans were chanting Jackie at him. So they made the subtext into Tex by making it into a slur as as as he played. But he hit a three run home run. He I believe he yelled out like, shut the f up and made it feel like his hand to his ears, you know, and and then decide, did they just try it as he secured a big win for his team?

Speaker 4: I think that his ability to overcome is hopefully a symbolic sign for a lot of young, young kids. But that is what the symbol is. One thing, the actual dating reality of being an eight and 11 year old on a travel team. Go out of your neighborhood where you’re no longer with other you know, with your family with. But, you know, if you live in a black neighborhood, you’re, you know, your community and stuck with a bunch of Tyler and Trevor is and Josh is pitching this.

Speaker 1: It doesn’t look fun at all. Right. Like that. It sounds like nobody wants to be you want to be Tim Anderson, but you don’t want to live Tim Anderson life if you’re a professional athlete. Right?

Speaker 4: Right. It’s like, so how long you want to hold on to that? You will spend the next 12, 12 years. And many of it perhaps in the minor leagues making, you know, below poverty rate. It is all due to have people, you know, turn against civil rights icons and C slurs. Just because you want to improve the game. And I think that’s a really important point that that is, I think, lost in all this, that Tim Anderson is actually pretty fabulous carrier Jackie Obama’s legacy. Like, he he he is very involved in his you know, in the communities that he’s a part of. He’s a great baseball player. And and he’s making it fun in a way that that gives you all a lot more comfort to be themselves. And we’ve seen that. We’ve seen way more back flips in the Post Tim Anderson’s breakout era. It’s not only Tim Anderson doing that, but I think he’s a big part of that.

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Speaker 4: So he is changing the culture slowly within the sport. You know, it doesn’t mean he is breaking the color barrier. I think having a modicum of charity when interpreting his words would say that he that he is not placing so as an equivalent to Jackie Robinson, but just that he’s trying to honor his legacy by making it a little bit easier for for a generation behind him to feel welcome and supported in this game. That’s it.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And so in the Sports Illustrated piece, he. Made an argument that black kid should go into baseball, like despite everything that had been going on with them, he said. You know, football, dangerous path. This is actually Stephanie Apstein swords. Football is dangerous. Basketball’s for physical freaks, but an otherwise unremarkable child can dedicate himself to baseball and give himself a shot at college. Like that’s. That’s the argument. And there are a lot of really great young black players in the majors and also, you know, in high school and college.

Speaker 2: Right. Right now, it’s not like there’s a total dearth. And I think a lot of that can be credited to Anderson and players like him. But the thing that I find really kind of amazing about him is the guy who says that Jackie Robinson, quote, is somebody who is not ashamed or hiding. He’s proud. He’s a smart guy and kind of understands, I think, how people are going to read that and think about it and and interpret it. And he’s willing to own it. He was willing to own it in 2019 and understands kind of his importance in the game.

Speaker 2: And I mean, there is also an incident, Bradford, that happened just before that Sports Illustrated piece came out where he flipped his bat, a white pitcher threw at him and could have seriously hurt him. And Anderson shouted the N-word at the at the pitcher and got suspended for a game the same amount the Josh Donaldson got suspended for it. And then when Stephanie Apstein asked him about what he said, he said, Yeah, I said exactly what I said. And he wasn’t running away from it. He wasn’t shying away from it. This is not, again, a guy who’s, like, afraid to say what he thinks, to own what he said and he’s not. I think he probably wishes he wasn’t controversial, but it doesn’t seem like he’s going to, you know. Mince his words or anything like that.

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Speaker 4: Yeah. He’s. He certainly seems to be very comfortable in his skin. I unfortunately have never had a chance to have a staff actually have a conversation with him for longer than 8 seconds. But I do hope to, because I would love to to hear a little bit of why he has been able to, I guess, mentally prepare himself for the things that he that he deals with without wincing in any sort of discernible way. Not to say that there is there aren’t probably things that he may not say that he would say if he stuck with basketball instead of baseball as he wanted to for a long time in high school. But he’s a got a very special mindset and that’s great.

Speaker 4: But back to what Joel was saying, you shouldn’t have to have a super special Brazilian mindset to deal with things. You should be you should be okay with being like, you know, like your feelings are good and you know, if you. Yeah. Well, I mean, to say is you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t need to have such tough skin to make it as far as you do in, in organized American baseball. And that’s a problem. Hopefully, Tim Anderson can make things better again for a generation coming after him. But. That is what the but the key issue is that you need to be so unique and so special, not just with your bat speed or your range is short or your arm or something like that, but also in your head. That’s that is what I certainly hope changes through, Anderson, continuing to be himself, but probably like 20 other structural things that we don’t have time to deal with as well.

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Speaker 2: All right, Bradford, you’re going to stick around and we’re going to talk about another dispute in baseball that led to a suspension. A more lighthearted topic. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Speaker 2: This week’s bonus segment for Slate Plus members. We’re here to talk about the shooting, the new Val de Texas and how the sports world has responded, including Steve Kerr’s comments at a press conference and Gabe Kepler’s decision to stop coming out for the national anthem. If you want to hear that discussion, you need to be a Slate Plus member. And if you’re a member, you don’t just get bonus segments on the show and other slate shows. You can listen to this podcast, another slide podcast of early ads, and you can get the pleasure of knowing you are supporting this show, which would not be possible without the support of Slate Plus members. So sign up, go to Slate.com, slash hang up plus at Slate.com and such thing a plus.

Speaker 2: So here is a set of events that actually happened before Friday’s game between Cincinnati and San Francisco. The Reds Tommy Pham approached the Giants Joc Pederson in the outfield and slapped him across the face, an act that led to Pham getting suspended for three games for comparing suspension. Lengthier Pham explained to the next day that Peterson had, quote, said some shit I don’t condone. Meanwhile, in the other locker room, Peterson was telling his side of the story that, Listen.

Speaker 5: I put somebody, a player on the injured reserve when they were listed as out and added another player. And then there’s a text message in the group saying that I was cheating because I was stashing players on my bench.

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Speaker 2: So let’s stop that. This goes on for a lot longer. But this exchange confirms the fact that I’d already suspected. But now I know with absolute certainty that even the most interesting fantasy sports argument in history is just incredibly boring. And it’s substance. But it does get better because Pham, who was on the San Diego Padres last year, he wasn’t just upset that Peterson was doing something or other with his fantasy football roster. He was also mad about what was going on in the group chat, and thankfully Jack Peterson walked us through that part too.

Speaker 5: It is true I did send you a gif making fun of the Padres and if I heard anyone’s feelings, I apologize for that.

Speaker 2: Though there is some more backstory here that we can get into in a minute. But I just wanted to get to you as quickly as possible, because I feel like you’re maybe more equipped than anyone on Earth to analyze. What happened here.

Speaker 1: Is that you think I’m some sort of slapping expert, or is it because is it because is it because jocks from Palo Alto or because I’ve seen that devolve into violence before? What did you.

Speaker 2: Love? You love analyzing dumb fights. Yes. And it’s true. You like to, you know, say say things and, you know, maybe maybe tease people a little bit. Maybe a little bit.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I’m a little t that’s that’s fair. I’ll take that. I’ll take that. Well, I mean, so I think the thing that was funny to me is that if you didn’t know the players or their names and just laid out the facts of the case anonymously. Right. You think it was like this dust up between a pair of 20 somethings who are out of it at a triple-A ball? Like, is this, you know, the GIFs, the fantasy football, the group chat, all of it. Just some real Gen Z shit. And then I just realized that the people involved here were like 34 and 30 years old. Yeah, these are. These are grown ass men, you know? But it makes sense in the context of baseball and brethren, I’m sorry if this you know, I know you cover baseball and you said you’re not a baseball player, but it makes sense in the context of baseball to me because they’re the players tend to be more juvenile than other professional athletes on the average. Is that fair? Is that a fair characterization of baseball players, that they’re more juvenile than like your typical NFL or NBA player? Right. You know.

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Speaker 4: I don’t know. I feel like helmet syndrome does something to football players like of just kind of like needing to be seen in a way that is they might be a little different. But but, you know, again, I’m not the I’m not the football player. I’m not the 12 year old track star. I don’t know. I just think.

Speaker 1: It’s fine, fine, fine, fine, fine.

Speaker 4: I think the thing that’s the funniest thing about all of this is just that Tommy Pham is no longer on the team that was being made fun of and he still held it in for so long.

Speaker 1: There’s no moment, he said about the Padres right away. Right.

Speaker 4: But there’s evidence there’s five fingers of five fingerprints that would attest to something that has to do with the fact that he does care deeply about how others perceive the 2021 Padres.

Speaker 2: I didn’t know that there had been anyone in the entire history of humanity that had cared about the Padres being insulted. So when we learn something, Josh.

Speaker 4: May be right, maybe entirely right.

Speaker 1: I mean, I grew up with two kids in my neighborhood, Joey and Audrey. And if you all happened, if you listen to this, strangely enough, from the eighties, they moved into my neighborhood. They were the only two Padres fans I ever knew, and they lived in Missouri City, Texas, in the late eighties. So they did care. Maybe they would have some feelings on that.

Speaker 1: But just real quick. Let me not pretend that I have a problem with slapping someone over perceived disrespect generally. That’s something that I absolutely understand and I even respect in certain contexts. But I mean, bro, I mean, Tommy seems like a hothead. Like, to me, it’s just like you were looking for a reason to slap that dude, right? Like, I just like, that’s. That’s bottom line. Like, I just think that you didn’t like that guy. You probably, like, been watching that group chat, you know, go down. You just, like, I just don’t fuck with that dude. And you were looking for any opportunity to slap that guy, and when it arose, you took it. That’s what I.

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Speaker 4: Think. I think some important context Tommy Pham is that he plays with like hips and shoulders. That is that is why he’s had a good long career, really. There’s actually a Sports Illustrated article about that from like 2017. We had a breakout year with the St Louis Cardinals, but in the previous two seasons he was a good player. If he was like constantly being shuttled between the major and minor leagues and he’s like really mad. Like I’m clearly one of the better players on this team and I was before even my breakout season. Why am I still in the minors? He is driven by that sort of anger and desire for for vengeance against all enemies, real or perceived.

Speaker 4: And, you know, again, I hate that I’m essentially describing an angry black man trope. But this this is one of those times where, you know, you should not systemically, broadly, you know, put all all black males into this. But the shoe fits. He’s angry and he and he uses it to be good. And so I think that is kind of what what happens when you when you have that, when that’s what drives you, is what makes you a millionaire, makes you a star baseball player. It’s hard to turn it off when you don’t matter anymore. I think that’s exactly what happened when he had the when he had to do the when the fantasy football beef smart is that you know it was it’s the equivalent of the guy in the bar, you know, waiting for someone to look at him, the glance in his eyes in the wrong way. And they. Oh, you talking to me? Talk to my girl, you know? All right, well, that’s a step outside. He wants that fight because it’s what makes him a good player.

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Speaker 2: Don’t we feel like? Well, everything that you guys said is is true, but don’t we feel like this is just, like, about money? That he’s just mad and even he even says that explicitly, you’re fucking with my money. Oh, there’s actually more. You’re fucking with my money. Then you’re going to say some disrespectful shit. There’s a code to this. I did not realize that there’s a code with Padre as gifts, but I think what happened here is let’s let’s throw some money to throw some dollar figures out here. Joel Like how much money do you think would have had to be involved for Joc Pederson to get slapped like that? Are we talking about like Tommy Pham feels like you cost him? Oh, I mean, these guys make a lot of money, actually, because they’re professional athletes. You think it’s like five figures?

Speaker 1: Six figures? I was starting here. I was saying $10,000 is probably where you start because.

Speaker 2: 10,000 was the number that was in my head, too.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Uh huh.

Speaker 2: Did you have an imaginary dollar figure in your head, Bradford?

Speaker 4: Yeah, I kind of wonder if it’s like even six. I mean, like, these guys have a lot of money, yo, they have so much money, man. Like, and Tommy fans do like he like, you know, he actually was stabbed in front of a strip club, fortunately, you know, recovered well, but, like, you know, not too long ago. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1: Oh, I think I do that. What’s it? Yeah. What city did to get back where I need to do.

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Speaker 2: Well do some research on the research.

Speaker 1: I got back.

Speaker 2: Oh it was in San Diego. In San Diego.

Speaker 4: Yeah, that’s my point. Okay. So yeah, I mean, yeah, he’s, you know, he’s he’s made he’s made his money, you know, like he’s, you know, he’s a multimillionaire. And as his Joc, I would have to think is has it has to cross six figures because for money to be the true issue here and not like respect, I think respect is sort of it. You know, I think even even when it comes to that I’ll stuff like the ah the, you know the fantasy roster issues is that like this is a disrespectful way to conduct your fantasy football team and I have a problem with it. And then on top of that you make fun of the team that I no longer play for but was a part of How Dare You? And so I really think it’s yeah, it’s fight and honestly I do respect that and but because frankly I, I write best when I mean, when I’m like, I wish, I wish I could concentrate better on words when I, when I’m in, like, a good state of mind, but I’m not. So.

Speaker 2: Here are a couple of things that Tommy Pham has said in the past few years. And about this incident. He said, I’m a big dog in Vegas. I’m a high roller at many casinos, which is like I thought that that was like something that Ron Burgundy said, an anchor man.

Speaker 4: But you know, where he’s from is from Vegas.

Speaker 1: From Vegas. I was like, so that actually is I thought that was bullshit, but I was like, Oh, that actually could be true. That’s probably true. Right?

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Speaker 2: I and here after the, the strip club stabbing incident, there were hecklers and Pham said in response that the fans heckling him about softening stabbed. He said when someone comes up to me cursing me like that, I could defend myself. And, you know, I’m a very good fighter. I don’t do Muay Thai kung fu and box for no reason.

Speaker 1: I love this guy.

Speaker 4: That’s all I’m saying is like, it’s not about money because the man is probably blowing ten times his fantasy football earnings.

Speaker 2: Throw away it away. There’s another. There’s another quote. There’s another quote. So earlier this like a month ago, there was an issue with a slight at home plate that Tommy Pham didn’t didn’t appreciate. And he he offered to fight a former teammate of his, Luke Voit, and said, if Luke wants to settle it, I get down really well. Anything Muay Thai or whatever. I’ve got a gym owner here who will let me use his facility, so fuck him. Oh, I mean, Joel, this is like your favorite player ever.

Speaker 4: Now it’s a podcast. You can’t see who. Reuters friends, Google Luke Voit. That man is strong. That me like? No. Like when he was in the Yankees. Like, I would ask him for, like, workout tips, like he told me about, like, eating asparagus, which, like a bodybuilder friend of his knows, like it produces, you know, muscle growth better than many vegetables like he is. Like there are videos of him lifting a bench with plates on a barbell with the plates on both sides with just one hand. Like, that’s that’s a kind of like, wow, meat had, you know, driven to the grind of gains that Will Voight is he’s a big guy. And so for Tommy Pham to do that like that that says a lot a lot about Tommy Pham that he wants to like fight again, not only his presumable friend or even, you know, from from a previous team, but also like, you know, the biggest guy, one of the biggest guys on the field any time.

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Speaker 1: Do you know who Tommy Pham is? I’m just this is just kind of occurring to me and see if this analogy is he’s Pacman Jones. Is this a Pacman Jones? Tommy Pham is Pacman Jones. Like we know that he can fight. He’s had you know, he’s open to fighting at a strip club for open to fighting pretty much anywhere. And it’s like you don’t want to be associated with that dude that you do not want to have to go out with that person. You don’t want to have any real sort of interaction with him because you’re just what you, you know, you don’t know what wire you’re going to trip. But at a distance, he seems like a fun motherfucker. They’re like, he’s like, I just I like that vibe. Like, I feel like all professional sports need players like this as long as, you know, as long as they keep it in between the lines. And you are did see the slap right itself.

Speaker 2: With like a.

Speaker 4: Blurry photo, right? I mean, like blur.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I mean, that ended of itself. And I know that slapping is like, you know, some great crime in America up until, you know, right up until a couple, couple bucks ago. But I just I kind of dig that dude’s vibe. I think all professional sports need a guy like this, you know, assuming they can survive their off field fights. But in baseball would much rather talk about this than Josh Donaldson. They’d much rather talk about this than, you know, the Anaheim scandal that’s going on where, you know, corruption in everything was used to set aside land for the angels. Right. So, like, I mean, if I’m baseball, like three games, whatever, that’s fine. I mean, he deserved the suspension or whatever, but like, that’s that’s the kind of story you want to have out there, I think.

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Speaker 2: Well, this story is just such an amazing burn to the Joel Anderson agenda, which is that that agenda being as a society, we should not pretend to care about things like this or to like, you know, take them like super seriously and like just the story with the the fantasy football and the group chat leading to a slap. I think all of America is behind you on this one joke that we we shouldn’t try to argue that this is problematic.

Speaker 2: But I should I will add and this is getting back to something that Bradford said earlier. I mean, Tommy Pham like this is a guy who like had to wear leg braces when he was an infant. He overcame like an eye issue to play in the the majors. He has, you know, his his when he grew up, his dad was in prison. Like he has a really amazing story. And the fact that he was able to make it to the majors is really cool.

Speaker 2: But this is like a guy with all of the stuff around him. Like, this might be funny. It does feel like there could be like something that happens with him in the future that’s like less funny. And I feel kind of like, I don’t know if I, if I feel bad for the guy is the right term. But like, you know, there’s a there’s a, I guess a fine line between like playing with a chip on your shoulder and like, you know, the humor of being mad at somebody about some dumb fantasy shit and like having some, like, self-control, self-control issues. And I just like, worrying about what’s going to what’s going to happen with this guy in the future.

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Speaker 1: No, no. I mean, I think that’s fair, right? Yeah. I mean, you don’t want it to like if you can’t control your anger, you can’t control your anger. And that can lead you down some really dark places eventually, right?

Speaker 4: Yeah. I hope that he’s able to just better drive it towards competitive fire. And and only competitive fire. Like, I don’t want to proclaim that he’s going to be like in jail when he’s 50 or something like that at all. Like, like, you know, there’s plenty of time to work to where to work out your your hangups in a way that that you drive it towards the things that matter and step away from things. I don’t it’s hard but like it’s possible and I’m but I yeah. Right now I’m grateful that it is a purely funny story at this point. Like I think about slap get one, you know, and the many referendums that are made about black on black crime or something of that nature like I’m glad this is not that. I’m glad that this is, you know, as harmless and PG as violence can be like, you know, the country.

Speaker 1: So and let’s not overlook Joc Pederson here, by the way, he seems like an extremely cool guy. Like he took I don’t know what he knows about Tommy or maybe he knows all of the same things we know about Tommy, which is why he took that slap, you know, fairly graciously. He’s like, I guess I earned that. But, like, he just seems like a really cool guy. I’m so happy that he was willing to open up his phone and group chat to the rest of us. That was so generous of him.

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Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, that’s that’s the last point I would make is that like Bradford is somebody who goes into locker rooms like, I mean, isn’t this the best case and demonstration of why it’s so important, like in this era where like they’re trying to restrict journalistic access to players and locker rooms and it’s like everything on Zoom, just like it just brought so much joy to me to see, like, this gaggle of reporters around Jack Peterson. And he’s, like, showing his phone and like answering everyone’s question. I mean, America needed this. And, like, this is just, you know, Bradford, you should be in be able to go in any locker room that you that you want and need to go to because America America needs these moments with.

Speaker 4: Adam Silver is listening.

Speaker 1: Back look.

Speaker 4: At this will be what you miss you you are you’re in the conference I went to the finals and your sport is sort of cultural touchpoint in this country. And you lost the entire weekend to a fantasy football game. And Major League Baseball. Has media had access to the player? Let us in. Let us in. Adam.

Speaker 2: And this is another testament to the popularity of football. The like when does baseball make it in the news? Because of.

Speaker 1: Course, you know, you know, I’ve never played fantasy football in my life, but if it gets people well, actually, you know, at this this makes even more of a case for why I’ve never done it, because I don’t want to get that emotional about anything, you know what I mean? That’s like I had enough going on in life with that, it escalating to something like that. But yeah, now football still kind of boy. Oh, speaking of football, by the way, you know, I did not know much about Chuck Peterson and I had, but so I had to look this up. He’s a local product right out here, probably a probably Viking. Did this factoid on his Wikipedia fucking blew my mind. You know what? I’m going to repeal Peterson.

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Speaker 4: I do.

Speaker 1: Peterson was the team’s number one wide receiver, racking up more yards and touchdowns than his teammate. Future NFL wide receiver Davante Adams. I was like, Whoa, who’s up? Here’s what, Doug. I like that guy to bear. So shout out Joc Pederson who you love both.

Speaker 2: You love both of these guys. This fight really raised both of them. That an esteem in your eyes?

Speaker 1: Oh, my God. Yeah. I mean, that this firmly in my top five favorite baseball players already so thanks for their.

Speaker 2: Ninth and career home runs among Jews, baby. Let’s go.

Speaker 1: Oh, what a mensch. We all got something to root for here.

Speaker 2: Bradford William Davis writes for Insider. He investigates stuff for Insider. We talked about his great piece about the baseball not that long ago, and he wrote about the other incident that we talked about, the Tim Anderson Josh Donaldson one for Defector bradford, thank you so much for spending time with us. Appreciate it.

Speaker 4: Always a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 2: And now it is time for After Balls. And Joel. I don’t know if you knew, but while you were gone, we got a sponsor. Bennett’s prune juice.

Speaker 1: Really?

Speaker 2: Endorsed by any sailor who says it was okay.

Speaker 1: Bennett’s princess promises good ideas. My dad raised me on fringes. That’s fine. So.

Speaker 2: Oh, man. Hang up and listen. After all. Sponsored by Bennett’s fringes. Endorsed by Joel Anderson, who says, My dad raised me on fringes. So Joel just because I find fantasy sports disputes desperately boring, even when they lead to slapping. We didn’t mention the player who was the kind of the eye of the storm. So the issue was the Joc Pederson put a guy on his injured list. Whatever, blah, blah, blah. But the player was Jeff Wilson.

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Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Kind of.

Speaker 1: Jeff Wilson.

Speaker 2: Generic ass name Jeff Wilson. But he is a running back. So again, another reason why the story is just like right in the center of the Venn diagram of your interest. And not only that, he played college football at North Texas.

Speaker 1: Really? I did not know that. For some reason, I thought this guy was from Florida, but. Okay.

Speaker 2: Huh? Oh, wait. Here we go. High school football at Elkhart High School in Texas.

Speaker 1: Oh, okay. I want to say Elkhart is in East Texas, but I may have that wrong. You go looking for.

Speaker 2: Elkhart, Texas, southwestern Anderson County. Have you heard of it?

Speaker 1: Oh, yeah, that’s in East Texas. Also, he was born in Palestine, Texas. You know who else is a great running back? Was born in Palestine, Texas, right?

Speaker 2: Oh, I should know that.

Speaker 1: Adrian Peterson.

Speaker 2: That’s right. Adrian Peterson. I know it sounds familiar.

Speaker 2: So, Joel, since I’m doing the after ball today.

Speaker 4: Hmm?

Speaker 2: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?

Speaker 1: Anything I’d like to ask you? Yeah.

Speaker 2: You know how we do this? Remember how we do this?

Speaker 1: Oh, yeah, right. Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve been off for so long.

Speaker 2: Oh, we’re leaving all this in, but go ahead.

Speaker 1: Yeah, okay. You got it. Well, you get to retake. Okay, so, Josh, who is your Jeff Wilson for today?

Speaker 2: So, Joel, there’s a phrase that’s been a part of our lives, I think, ever since both of us have been sentient sports watchers. So basically, like since mid early to mid eighties, it’s a phrase that evokes the natural cycles of fandom and team building, of highs and lows, of success and failure, of reaping and sowing if we want to get biblical about it. And that phrase is rebuilding year.

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Speaker 2: Hmm. Since I happened to mention 1980s, I’m going to pick 1985 here. Just as an example, let’s start off with a survey of teams that, according to LexisNexis, we’re going through rebuilding years. In 1885, you got the Villanova basketball team coming off a national championship. Earlier that year, the Clemson football team coming off probation under Coach Danny for the entire sport of American figure skating, which had slim hopes for medals at the world championships. All sorts of high school teams there were suffering losses from graduation and also the company Wave Tech, which did tests and measurement instrumentation and was having, quote, unanticipated difficulties and growth.

Speaker 2: So it’s clear from that list that the concept was and is far reaching. It’s not specific to any sport or to team sports or even to sports at all. Trying to figure out the origins of the term rebuilding year. It’s a little difficult given the prevalence of non metaphorical usages of the term, like people rebuilding their houses a year after a fire. But I did learn from newspapers, AECOM, that in 1815 the Cornell football team was rebuilding next year. Nine years later, a headline said, The Yale football coach must do plenty of rebuilding this year. And while I’m guessing there were earlier references that I missed the first, quote, rebuilding year I could find with no words in between the rebuilding in the year. But the Pittsburgh Press in 1828, noting that a victory in the Duquesne football team’s final game would make the team’s record read pretty well for the rebuilding year.

Speaker 1: We’ve talked a lot about Duquesne football on this podcast, by the way.

Speaker 2: They’re definitely punching above their weight.

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Speaker 1: That’s right. Yeah.

Speaker 2: The rebuilding year will clearly be with us forever. Conceptually, the Chicago Cubs, they’re using their rebuilding year to see if Niko Horner is a long term answer. A shortstop says the athletic New York State’s Galway High School won the Section two Class C baseball championship in what their coach said was thought to be kind of a rebuilding year. So where to go? Golden Eagles. And yet, Joel, why all of this wind up and buildup, you might be asking. I feel like the concept of the rebuilding year is all but dead in two of the sports that the two of us hold particularly dear. Those sports being college football and basketball in those sports and others players are now allowed to transfer once without having to out a season. That’s the new NCAA rule. The rise of what’s effectively college sports free agency has changed those games in all kinds of ways.

Speaker 2: But for our purposes, let’s consider the Iowa State Basketball program in 2021. The Cyclones finished two and 22 and 2018 and Big 12 play. That would be a team that you’d think would need maybe a rebuilding decade, not just for the building year. But Coach T.J. outsold Berger, rebuilt the team through the transfer portal, brought in seven transfers, and that Nucor beat LSU in the NCAA tournament and they went all the way to the Sweet 16. And how about that LSU basketball program? They fired Will Wade for allegedly breaking all kinds of NCAA rules. And after that happened, every single player on the 2021, 2022 roster put his name in the transfer portal.

Speaker 2: While new coach Matt McMahon did convince three of them ultimately to stay, he brought in another group of players from his old team, Murray State, and he got some transfers, some incoming freshmen, and has actually cobbled together what looks like is going to be a competitive roster in the SCC. That’s obviously easier to turnover a relatively smaller basketball roster than a football one. But also look at what USC’s Lincoln Riley and OSHA’s Brian Kelly have done in the last few months. Bring in tons of new transfers in very short time frames.

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Speaker 2: And so that’s what brings me to my conclusion. All that at least on the high major programs, losing players to graduation. Losing them to the draft. It’s no longer going to be an acceptable excuse for a down year or, heaven forbid, a losing record, which is perhaps one of the many reasons why a lot of coaches don’t like the transfer portal. Those natural cycles of highs and lows of success and failure, of raping and sowing, really of excuses, even reasonable excuses, those excuses no longer exist. And so that other cliche, we don’t rebuild, we reload. That has now become an imperative. And that’s why I’m expecting a playoff berth from TCU every year from now until now, until the end of time. But do you, do you agree with my take that rebuilding. Yea, there’s no such thing anymore.

Speaker 1: I think it won’t be a thing if you want to get rid of your coach. Right. You’ve got to be like if you just like, yeah, you know, it’s no excuse. There’s no excuse. Brian Kelly You know, I know you lost a lot of players, but you know, you’re able to rebuild your team is not a big deal. So yeah, I agree in theory, but it’s always the coach that wants to buy himself more time will say that there’s a rebuilding year. And for fans that are dissatisfied with that coach, just like, what are you talking about? There’s no such thing as a rebuilding year. And to your point about TCU, I mean, I’ve just got so little faith rebuilding that. Yeah, I’m just whatever man we got. I mean, I don’t, I don’t, you know, I don’t want to get agitated talking about them, but, you know, rebuilding this is a rebuilding administration, put it that way.

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Speaker 2: But I mean, like think about Baylor basketball, for instance, like Scott Drew came in after that program, just got absolutely destroyed for good reason. And it’s just like a slow building process. And then after many, many years, they won a national title like this. T.J., it’s a bigger thing. It’s not like I mean, Iowa State had some good years under Fred Hoiberg. And actually we should mention Myron Medcalf, friend of the show, wrote a good piece about how Fred Hoiberg was like. That was the first actual transfer program that they like built themselves on transfers kind of starting a decade ago. But like the fact that he turned that team from two and 22 to the Sweet 16 in one year, like if, if we’re talking about like even a program as like decimated as Baylor was like now conceivably they could have won a national.

Speaker 1: Title the next season. No, sure. The thing is, though, I just think that all of that is going to be a little overblown because good players don’t tend to leave like that. You know what I mean? Like, I just don’t. I think you will be able to rebuild. You better pick a player from Murray State and get somebody from Kent State and bring in somebody from Colorado State. I’m just naming a bunch of states. But but at the end of the day, if like I mean, I think it’ll be a lot much ado about nothing at the end of the day, because the good schools are still going to be the good schools and they’re going to have good players already. And maybe you’ll be like Alabama, where they’ll poll Tennessee’s best linebacker, Henry Toto. I think I think that’s his name. You know, they just able to manage to get Trent Tennessee’s best player. Just to add on just a little sprinkling. I agree with your theory. In theory.

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Speaker 2: That’s all I can ask. Claudio, thank you. That is our show for today. Our producers, Kevin Bendis, fills in the pastures and subscribe or just reach out, go to Slate.com slash hang up and you can email us at Hang Up at Slate.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to the show and to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts for Joel Anderson. We were just thrilled to have back and Josh Levine remembers on the beat and thanks for listening.

Speaker 2: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members. And last week, the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, dominated the news, dominated all of our thoughts. I think, Joel, it’s fair to say, and it dominated discourse in sports the day that the shooting happened was a scheduled day for the Western Conference finals. And Steve Kerr came to the podium before a game between wears the Mavericks and did not want to talk about the game. Let’s listen.

Speaker 5: I’m not going to talk about basketball. Nothing’s happened with our team in the last 6 hours. We’re going to start the same way tonight. Any basketball questions don’t matter since we love shootaround. 14 children were killed 400 miles from here. And as a teacher. And in the last ten days, we’ve had elderly black people killed in a supermarket in Buffalo. We’ve had Asian churchgoers killed in Southern California. And now we have children murdered at school. When are we going to do something?

Speaker 2: Joel, we’ve heard Steve Kerr before comment on social issues and on politics. And so it’s not surprising that he said something, but the force that he spoke with and then later on in the press conference, he’d particularly put it on the Senate. The just kind of the level of outrage was what a lot of people were feeling. But I thought a bunch of people comment that people within sports seem to be speaking their minds, both kind of, but maybe being more outspoken than on on previous issues, but also being more outspoken than even people in politics.

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Speaker 1: Yeah. I mean, I think that I mean, in the way that Sandy Hook was supposed to have been a turning point in the discourse around gun rights and mass shootings, that maybe this might actually be that turning point. It does seem that there’s a lot more energy and anger in the wake of this, and understandably so. And it’s I mean, I did think it was interesting sort of that it happened.

Speaker 1: You know, Gabe Kapler, the San Francisco Giants manager, who said that he was going to not stand for the national anthem during games and changed course over the weekend from Memorial Day, but is planning to sit out because he doesn’t like the direction of the country. And I think that, you know, I don’t think it’s a surprise that the coaches who generated the most attention and publicity for their remarks about this are from the Bay Area, which is theoretically more progressive politically than many other places in this country. And so there’s a sense that the people out here would be able to take those remarks.

Speaker 1: I mean, you know that there’s some a feeling here that you’re like, what the hell is going on in Texas is crazy. I don’t think you if Steve Kerr was coaching the Dallas Mavericks, I don’t think I don’t think he would say that. But maybe I’m wrong because I know Gregg Popovich, maybe. I don’t know. I haven’t seen of Gregg Popovich or said anything yet. But he’s not playing right now. But maybe he might be the one guy in Texas that might be able to get away with that. But yeah, man, I just I think that people are. You know, they look at what happened and they see like just this failure in society. And like we right now, we’re just seeing a breakdown of all these institutions around us. And then for that to happen, it’s just like, man, we need to get our shit together. And I’m, I’m it’s good to see Steve Kerr and Gabe Kapler step up, but I also am like, where’s everybody else? Because you said that, you know, that more people are speaking out about this. But I to be honest, I’m kind of surprised. I haven’t seen more of it, right?

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Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, another thing that happened was the Yankees, like, spent a whole game with their social media account just tweeting like facts about guns and gun control, which on the one hand, it’s just like a great example of social media activism. Like, I’m not sure what the the upshot of that is, but it does say something that the in the organization it wasn’t just that they were tweeting about gun control. It was that they were doing it in lieu of doing whatever else they would do during the game and like pissing off a bunch of fans and, you know, drawing either because of that. And so it’s like, I’m not going to, you know, nominate them for the Nobel Peace Prize or anything. But it was an example of an organization putting itself behind this issue.

Speaker 2: And I guess, you know, there are two kind of categories of of thing happening here. There’s like an individual like Steve Kerr, maybe like Gabe Kapler speaking out for themselves, not necessarily on behalf of their organization, feeling like. A certain like responsibility or calling to do it, but also feeling like they can do it, like they’re not going to get fired. They can get away with it.

Speaker 2: The Yankees thing I think is interesting because it’s an example of the Yankees are a corporation. They’re not a it’s probably even to like narrow to call them a sports team. I mean, they’re like a huge billion dollar kind of conglomerate. And so there’s been all sorts of conversation about like how companies position themselves, like around the don’t say gay bill and all of that, all of these different issues.

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Speaker 2: But there must be a perception, Joel, that there’s safety for a corporation in speaking out about this issue, especially in a week when you know more children, even more than the you know, the number increased after Steve Kerr’s press conference, you know, up to 18 children being killed like that. There’s, you know, a belief among the people who operate the Yankees that they can say this, maybe they feel like they should say it, but also, again, that they can get away with saying it. And what I’ll be telling and I think we probably know the answer to this is like whether they feel comfortable tweeting about gun control in two weeks or in six months.

Speaker 1: Right. Yeah. I mean, I think because you’re probably thinking about this in the same way that I am that I remember, you know, in the the weeks and months after to George Floyd and all of these other, you know, brands, professional sports teams, even college coaches felt obligated to say something in the moment that that they that they had to let people know that this was unacceptable and that there needed to be a change, that people needed to listen to each other, and that needed to be some sort of like sensible politics to emerge in its wake. And that’s not what happened. If anything, there was a backlash. Right. So, yeah. Let’s see. Let’s see if there’s still that same energy for this around the midterms.

Speaker 1: Right. If they’re still willing to talk about it and put their put their money and their might behind it, then great. But we’re in the middle. You know, we’re about to go to a dark period of into in terms of media, especially for sports. And so I just, you know, I’m dubious they’ll still be talking about this if they’ll still be behind it. But it I don’t want to I don’t want to downplay the fact that they said something in the first place. But I’m skeptical that they’re going to keep it up over the long haul if they’re going to be in for a real fight.

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Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, so there are two there are two factors working against kind of continued outspokenness. Factor number one is that everybody moves on. Even when something horrific happens, people move on to new horrific issues or other kind of banal workaday issues. And the second is, it’s way, way easier for anyone and everyone to express outrage about something that happened and way harder, especially if you’re trying to, like, triangulate and not make people mad at you and figure out a way to appear the way that you said sensible to actually propose anything.

Speaker 1: Right. Right. Yeah. I mean.

Speaker 2: That’s kind of like what that’s like. Mitch. Mitch McConnell approach. Right? It’s to say like, oh, yeah, well, we’re happy to talk about gun control. Like, of course we’re happy to talk about it. And then like any actual proposals like now we’re not we’re not happy to talk about this now. Not that, not that, not that, not that.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Let’s go back to 2019 in Texas, where there was a gunman that killed 23 people and injured 23 others at a Walmart in El Paso. And there was a lot of talk in Texas outside some energy like, oh, we’ve got to do something. But like what actually happened in terms of the laws that were passed? Absolutely did not address the problem that that you know that undergirded that that shooting which is that access to, you know, these these rifles and these weapons of war. If anything, it went in the opposite direction. So yeah, man, it’s like you said that you can say things all you want, but until you do things, you know, if people have the right to be skeptical of the sentiment behind them.

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Speaker 2: Steve Kerr has a huge platform now both and you know, the final start on Thursday. Yeah. In the lead up to the finals. During the finals, people will be listening to him. I don’t know if the you know, what do you call it, the inside the huddle thing during the game? I don’t know if he’s going to be talking about gun control then. Probably not. But like, there’s never kind of a a time for an NBA coach where people care more about what you have to say than in this kind of two week stretch. And he’s also built up a name and reputation preceding this where people want to hear what he has to say regardless.

Speaker 1: Right. But is it shocking? Like that’s the thing. Like, is anybody really going to take notice of Steve Kerr says it or if somebody like Mark Cuban or, you know, like it needs to be somebody people know where Steve. People can presumably know what Steve Kerr is going to say or something like this. It would be different if Tony La Russa was the guy that took up the mantle for Ford. Right. And so that’s the thing to look for. Like, is it going to. Is it going to grow to other people that you didn’t see coming?

Speaker 2: Thank you. Slate Plus, members will be back with more next week.

Speaker 1: Yeah, okay. You got it. Well, you get to retake. Okay, so, Josh, who is your Jeff Wilson for today?

Speaker 2: So, Joel, there’s a phrase that’s been a part of our lives, I think, ever since both of us have been sentient sports watchers. So basically, like since mid early to mid eighties, it’s a phrase that evokes the natural cycles of fandom and team building, of highs and lows, of success and failure, of reaping and sowing if we want to get biblical about it. And that phrase is rebuilding year.

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Speaker 2: Hmm. Since I happened to mention 1980s, I’m going to pick 1985 here. Just as an example, let’s start off with a survey of teams that, according to LexisNexis, we’re going through rebuilding years. In 1885, you got the Villanova basketball team coming off a national championship. Earlier that year, the Clemson football team coming off probation under Coach Danny for the entire sport of American figure skating, which had slim hopes for medals at the world championships. All sorts of high school teams there were suffering losses from graduation and also the company Wave Tech, which did tests and measurement instrumentation and was having, quote, unanticipated difficulties and growth.

Speaker 2: So it’s clear from that list that the concept was and is far reaching. It’s not specific to any sport or to team sports or even to sports at all. Trying to figure out the origins of the term rebuilding year. It’s a little difficult given the prevalence of non metaphorical usages of the term, like people rebuilding their houses a year after a fire. But I did learn from newspapers, AECOM, that in 1815 the Cornell football team was rebuilding next year. Nine years later, a headline said, The Yale football coach must do plenty of rebuilding this year. And while I’m guessing there were earlier references that I missed the first, quote, rebuilding year I could find with no words in between the rebuilding in the year. But the Pittsburgh Press in 1828, noting that a victory in the Duquesne football team’s final game would make the team’s record read pretty well for the rebuilding year.

Speaker 1: We’ve talked a lot about Duquesne football on this podcast, by the way.

Speaker 2: They’re definitely punching above their weight.

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Speaker 1: That’s right. Yeah.

Speaker 2: The rebuilding year will clearly be with us forever. Conceptually, the Chicago Cubs, they’re using their rebuilding year to see if Niko Horner is a long term answer. A shortstop says the athletic New York State’s Galway High School won the Section two Class C baseball championship in what their coach said was thought to be kind of a rebuilding year. So where to go? Golden Eagles. And yet, Joel, why all of this wind up and buildup, you might be asking. I feel like the concept of the rebuilding year is all but dead in two of the sports that the two of us hold particularly dear. Those sports being college football and basketball in those sports and others players are now allowed to transfer once without having to out a season. That’s the new NCAA rule. The rise of what’s effectively college sports free agency has changed those games in all kinds of ways.

Speaker 2: But for our purposes, let’s consider the Iowa State Basketball program in 2021. The Cyclones finished two and 22 and 2018 and Big 12 play. That would be a team that you’d think would need maybe a rebuilding decade, not just for the building year. But Coach T.J. outsold Berger, rebuilt the team through the transfer portal, brought in seven transfers, and that Nucor beat LSU in the NCAA tournament and they went all the way to the Sweet 16. And how about that LSU basketball program? They fired Will Wade for allegedly breaking all kinds of NCAA rules. And after that happened, every single player on the 2021, 2022 roster put his name in the transfer portal.

Speaker 2: While new coach Matt McMahon did convince three of them ultimately to stay, he brought in another group of players from his old team, Murray State, and he got some transfers, some incoming freshmen, and has actually cobbled together what looks like is going to be a competitive roster in the SCC. That’s obviously easier to turnover a relatively smaller basketball roster than a football one. But also look at what USC’s Lincoln Riley and OSHA’s Brian Kelly have done in the last few months. Bring in tons of new transfers in very short time frames.

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Speaker 2: And so that’s what brings me to my conclusion. All that at least on the high major programs, losing players to graduation. Losing them to the draft. It’s no longer going to be an acceptable excuse for a down year or, heaven forbid, a losing record, which is perhaps one of the many reasons why a lot of coaches don’t like the transfer portal. Those natural cycles of highs and lows of success and failure, of raping and sowing, really of excuses, even reasonable excuses, those excuses no longer exist. And so that other cliche, we don’t rebuild, we reload. That has now become an imperative. And that’s why I’m expecting a playoff berth from TCU every year from now until now, until the end of time. But do you, do you agree with my take that rebuilding. Yea, there’s no such thing anymore.

Speaker 1: I think it won’t be a thing if you want to get rid of your coach. Right. You’ve got to be like if you just like, yeah, you know, it’s no excuse. There’s no excuse. Brian Kelly You know, I know you lost a lot of players, but you know, you’re able to rebuild your team is not a big deal. So yeah, I agree in theory, but it’s always the coach that wants to buy himself more time will say that there’s a rebuilding year. And for fans that are dissatisfied with that coach, just like, what are you talking about? There’s no such thing as a rebuilding year. And to your point about TCU, I mean, I’ve just got so little faith rebuilding that. Yeah, I’m just whatever man we got. I mean, I don’t, I don’t, you know, I don’t want to get agitated talking about them, but, you know, rebuilding this is a rebuilding administration, put it that way.

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Speaker 2: But I mean, like think about Baylor basketball, for instance, like Scott Drew came in after that program, just got absolutely destroyed for good reason. And it’s just like a slow building process. And then after many, many years, they won a national title like this. T.J., it’s a bigger thing. It’s not like I mean, Iowa State had some good years under Fred Hoiberg. And actually we should mention Myron Medcalf, friend of the show, wrote a good piece about how Fred Hoiberg was like. That was the first actual transfer program that they like built themselves on transfers kind of starting a decade ago. But like the fact that he turned that team from two and 22 to the Sweet 16 in one year, like if, if we’re talking about like even a program as like decimated as Baylor was like now conceivably they could have won a national title.

Speaker 1: The next season. No, sure. The thing is, though, I just think that all of that is going to be a little overblown because good players don’t tend to leave like that. You know what I mean? Like, I just don’t. I think you will be able to rebuild. You better pick a player from Murray State and get somebody from Kent State and bring in somebody from Colorado State. I’m just naming a bunch of states. But but at the end of the day, if like I mean, I think it’ll be a lot much ado about nothing at the end of the day, because the good schools are still going to be the good schools and they’re going to have good players already. And maybe you’ll be like Alabama, where they’ll poll Tennessee’s best linebacker, Henry Toto. I think I think that’s his name. You know, they just able to manage to get Trent Tennessee’s best player. Just to add on just a little sprinkling. I agree with your theory. In theory.

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Speaker 2: That’s all I can ask. Claudio, thank you.

Speaker 2: That is our show for today. Our producers, Kevin Bendis, fills in the pastures and subscribe or just reach out, go to Slate.com slash hang up and you can email us at Hang Up at Slate.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to the show and to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts for Joel Anderson. We were just thrilled to have.

Speaker 4: Back.

Speaker 2: And Josh Levine remembers on the beat and thanks for listening.

Speaker 2: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members. And last week, the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, dominated the news, dominated all of our thoughts. I think, Joel, it’s fair to say, and it dominated discourse in sports the day that the shooting happened was a scheduled day for the Western Conference finals. And Steve Kerr came to the podium before a game between Wears the Mavericks and did not want to talk about the game. Let’s listen.

Speaker 2: Joel, we’ve heard Steve Kerr before comment on social issues and on politics. And so it’s not surprising that he said something, but the force that he spoke with and then later on in the press conference, he’d particularly put it on the Senate. The just kind of the level of outrage was what a lot of people were feeling. But I thought a bunch of people comment that people within sports seem to be speaking their minds, both kind of, but maybe being more outspoken than on on previous issues, but also being more outspoken than even people in politics.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I mean, I think that I mean, in the way that Sandy Hook was supposed to have been a turning point in the discourse around gun rights and mass shootings, that maybe this might actually be that turning point. It does seem that there’s a lot more energy and anger in the wake of this, and understandably so. And it’s I mean, I did think it was interesting sort of that it happened.

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Speaker 1: You know, Gabe Kapler, the San Francisco Giants manager, who said that he was going to not stand for the national anthem during games and changed course over the weekend from Memorial Day, but is planning to sit out because he doesn’t like the direction of the country. And I think that, you know, I don’t think it’s a surprise that the coaches who generated the most attention and publicity for their remarks about this are from the Bay Area, which is theoretically more progressive politically than many other places in this country. And so there’s a sense that the people out here would be able to take those remarks.

Speaker 1: I mean, you know that there’s some a feeling here that you’re like, what the hell is going on in Texas is crazy. I don’t think you if Steve Kerr was coaching the Dallas Mavericks, I don’t think I don’t think he would say that. But maybe I’m wrong because I know Gregg Popovich, maybe. I don’t know. I haven’t seen of Gregg Popovich or said anything yet. But he’s not playing right now. But maybe he might be the one guy in Texas that might be able to get away with that. But yeah, man, I just I think that people are. You know, they look at what happened and they see like just this failure in society. And like we right now, we’re just seeing a breakdown of all these institutions around us. And then for that to happen, it’s just like, man, we need to get our shit together. And I’m, I’m it’s good to see Steve Kerr and Gabe Kapler step up, but I also am like, where’s everybody else? Because you said that, you know, that more people are speaking out about this. But I to be honest, I’m kind of surprised. I haven’t seen more of it, right?

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Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, another thing that happened was the Yankees, like, spent a whole game with their social media account just tweeting like facts about guns and gun control, which on the one hand, it’s just like a great example of social media activism. Like, I’m not sure what the the upshot of that is, but it does say something that the in the organization it wasn’t just that they were tweeting about gun control. It was that they were doing it in lieu of doing whatever else they would do during the game and like pissing off a bunch of fans and, you know, drawing either because of that. And so it’s like, I’m not going to, you know, nominate them for the Nobel Peace Prize or anything. But it was an example of an organization putting itself behind this issue.

Speaker 2: And I guess, you know, there are two kind of categories of of thing happening here. There’s like an individual like Steve Kerr, maybe like Gabe Kapler speaking out for themselves, not necessarily on behalf of their organization, feeling like. A certain like responsibility or calling to do it, but also feeling like they can do it, like they’re not going to get fired. They can get away with it.

Speaker 2: The Yankees thing I think is interesting because it’s an example of the Yankees are a corporation. They’re not a it’s probably even to like narrow to call them a sports team. I mean, they’re like a huge billion dollar kind of conglomerate. And so there’s been all sorts of conversation about like how companies position themselves, like around the don’t say gay bill and all of that, all of these different issues.

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Speaker 2: But there must be a perception, Joel, that there’s safety for a corporation in speaking out about this issue, especially in a week when you know more children, even more than the you know, the number increased after Steve Kerr’s press conference, you know, up to 18 children being killed like that. There’s, you know, a belief among the people who operate the Yankees that they can say this, maybe they feel like they should say it, but also, again, that they can get away with saying it. And what I’ll be telling and I think we probably know the answer to this is like whether they feel comfortable tweeting about gun control in two weeks or in six months.

Speaker 1: Right. Yeah. I mean, I think because you’re probably thinking about this in the same way that I am that I remember, you know, in the the weeks and months after to George Floyd and all of these other, you know, brands, professional sports teams, even college coaches felt obligated to say something in the moment that that they that they had to let people know that this was unacceptable and that there needed to be a change, that people needed to listen to each other, and that needed to be some sort of like sensible politics to emerge in its wake. And that’s not what happened. If anything, there was a backlash. Right. So, yeah. Let’s see. Let’s see if there’s still that same energy for this around the midterms.

Speaker 1: Right. If they’re still willing to talk about it and put their put their money and their might behind it, then great. But we’re in the middle. You know, we’re about to go to a dark period of into in terms of media, especially for sports. And so I just, you know, I’m dubious they’ll still be talking about this if they’ll still be behind it. But it I don’t want to I don’t want to downplay the fact that they said something in the first place. But I’m skeptical that they’re going to keep it up over the long haul if they’re going to be in for a real fight.

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Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, so there are two there are two factors working against kind of continued outspokenness. Factor number one is that everybody moves on. Even when something horrific happens, people move on to new horrific issues or other kind of banal workaday issues. And the second is, it’s way, way easier for anyone and everyone to express outrage about something that happened and way harder, especially if you’re trying to, like, triangulate and not make people mad at you and figure out a way to appear the way that you said sensible to actually propose anything.

Speaker 1: Right. Right. Yeah. I mean.

Speaker 2: That’s kind of like what that’s like. Mitch. Mitch McConnell approach. Right? It’s to say like, oh, yeah, well, we’re happy to talk about gun control. Like, of course we’re happy to talk about it. And then like any actual proposals like now we’re not we’re not happy to talk about this now. Not that, not that, not that, not that.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Let’s go back to 2019 in Texas, where there was a gunman that killed 23 people and injured 23 others at a Walmart in El Paso. And there was a lot of talk in Texas outside some energy like, oh, we’ve got to do something. But like what actually happened in terms of the laws that were passed? Absolutely did not address the problem that that you know that undergirded that that shooting which is that access to, you know, these these rifles and these weapons of war. If anything, it went in the opposite direction. So yeah, man, it’s like you said that you can say things all you want, but until you do things, you know, people have the right to be skeptical of the sentiment behind them.

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Speaker 2: Steve Kerr has a huge platform now both and you know, the final start on Thursday. Yeah. In the lead up to the finals. During the finals, people will be listening to him. I don’t know if the you know, what do you call it, the inside the huddle thing during the game? I don’t know if he’s going to be talking about gun control then. Probably not. But like, there’s never kind of a a time for an NBA coach where people care more about what you have to say than in this kind of two week stretch. And he’s also built up a name and reputation preceding this where people want to hear what he has to say regardless.

Speaker 1: Right. But is it shocking? Like that’s the thing. Like, is anybody really going to take notice of Steve Kerr says it or if somebody like Mark Cuban or, you know, like it needs to be somebody people know where Steve. People can presumably know what Steve Kerr is going to say or something like this. It would be different if Tony La Russa was the guy that took up the mantle for Ford. Right. And so that’s the thing to look for. Like, is it going to. Is it going to grow to other people that you didn’t see coming?

Speaker 2: Thank you. Slate Plus, members will be back with more next week.

Speaker 1: The following podcast contains naughty language.

Speaker 2: Hi. I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor. And this is Hang Up and Listen for the week of May 31st, 2022. On this week’s show, Jack Hamilton is back to talk about how the Warriors-Celtics made it through the conference finals and what to look for in the NBA Finals. Then baseball writer Bradford William Davis will join us for a couple of segments about suspensions. First, the Yankees Josh Donaldson got a one game penalty for calling baseball’s biggest black star, the White Sox Tim Anderson Jackie. Then on Tommy Pham getting forced to sit out three games for slapping Jock Peterson over an extremely intricate fantasy football dispute. I’m in Washington, D.C., and I’m the author of The Queen and the host of the podcast One Year. Stefan FATSIS is off this week. But you know who’s back? Live on tape from California. Slate staff writer, host of Not One But Two Seasons of Slow Burn. Mr. Joel Anderson.

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Speaker 1: Hey, what’s up, man? Glad to be back. You missed me.

Speaker 2: I missed you. I think Stefan missed you, too. I know Stefan missed, you know.

Speaker 1: But Stefan missed me. I heard from Stefan while I was off, you know? Not, not, not, not, not. Not from you and Kevin so much. But that’s fine. I’ll live with it. But that’s.

Speaker 2: Okay. We all. We all express our missing you and in our own ways. But now it’s so, so great to see you again. So great to have you back on the show.

Speaker 1: Yeah, man. Yeah, I was off for people that don’t know. I had my first little baby. I guess my wife actually had the baby, and and I’m here to assist. But yes, I was on the first stint of my parental leave and it was not exactly vacation, but it was good to be off and get to learn how to do this thing, see how it works.

Speaker 2: Lucky kid. And we’re lucky to have you back, too.

Speaker 1: Thanks, man.

Speaker 1: Game one of the NBA Finals starts Thursday night, late Thursday night, if you’re on the East Coast between the Boston Celtics and the host Golden State Warriors to get there, the Warriors closed out the Dallas Mavericks and five games in the Western Conference finals. And in the East. The Celtics messed around and lost a late lead, but managed to hold on and beat the Heat in Miami in Game seven. That set up a finals between two of the league’s premier franchises, its oldest standard bearer, against its latest dynasty. Today, we bring back our good friend Jack Hamilton, who’s been writing about the NBA’s playoffs for Slate. He is also Slate’s pop critic and an associate professor of American Studies in Media Studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Just Around Midnight Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination. Thanks for joining us today, Jack.

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Speaker 3: Hey, guys. Thanks so much for having me back.

Speaker 1: Of course. So in your most recent piece for Slate titled What the Golden State Warriors Have to Fear, you wrote, The future appears bright and Golden State, but it’s nothing like the present. And no amount of foresight can stop the fact that the greatest NBA teams are always unique and finite occurrences. There won’t be anything quite like this Warriors team ever again. So do you think the finals will be a coming out party or curtain call for these warriors?

Speaker 3: Yeah, I mean, it’s a great question. You know, that’s why they play the games, as they say. But yeah, I mean, what the Warriors are trying to do is like pretty astonishing if they’re able to do it, you know, like this is their first title that they won with this group was now eight seasons ago. And it’s basically yeah, I mean this is the core of this team is pretty similar to the core of the team that won their first title back in 2015. You know, it’s Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson all still. They’re all still playing at a fairly high level. So yeah, you know, if they win, I think it will establish them as kind of one of the great dynasties that this sport has seen. And, you know, unfortunately, I think if they lose, there’s probably going to be, you know, the the requisite chatter about, you know, not being able to get it done without Kevin Durant, for instance, you know, who was there for the for the last titles.

Speaker 3: And, you know, there’s always been these sort of weird, I don’t know, sort of people whispering about Steph’s, you know, quote unquote, legacy. I think of the Warriors when it will establish certainly this core. And specifically Steph Curry is probably, you know, top ten player of all time pretty convincingly. And I think if they don’t win, yeah, it’s it’ll it’ll be interesting to look back on how this team is remembered, particularly because they’re getting older, you know, and it’s like there’s really no guarantee, as I kind of mentioned in the piece you quoted, like there’s no guarantee that they’re going to be able to get back there a whole bunch more times. I mean, maybe that will be, but we don’t know.

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Speaker 2: The thing that’s fascinating about this Warriors team and we can bring in the Celtics, too, is that, you know, neither of these teams are one of the greatest teams of all time or one of the greatest teams of the last ten years. And we’ve talked about it during these playoffs a bunch Jack about how the. This feels kind of like a bookend to the Superteam era that the heat started in those transcendent Heat teams, the Warriors team with Kevin Durant. I think we would all probably imagine that those teams would would be either of the teams that are in these finals.

Speaker 2: And yet both the Warriors and the Celtics of 2022 are kind of a testament to something more enduring and something that feels more kind of solid and independent of era. And that, you know, both gets at the fact that you have this core of the warriors that’s been there for eight years. There’s something like very kind of solid. There’s a foundation there that has led to championships.

Speaker 2: And then with the Celtics, Jack, you have this team where for years now there’s been a kind of hammering away at this idea of, you know, should we keep Tatum and Brown together? Are the Celtics like screwing up this amazing hall of draft picks that they had by not adding a superstar player? And so, you know, both teams in their own ways just feel like kind of answer to the question of how to build a team and how to build it to last.

Speaker 3: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that, you know, the Celtics this is certainly I mean, the Celtics are a young team, but this does still feel have the feeling of them kind of getting over a hump that they had. You know, this team has been to the conference finals a number of times with Tatum and Brown and having this is the first time they’ve been able to break through to the finals. But yeah, I think you’re right that we are seeing at least a lull in the quote unquote superteam era. I mean, we’ve certainly had super teams still, you know, in the Clippers, for instance, or the Nets, you know, you could say the Lakers probably, too. But, you know, they are they all were of various shades of disappointment this year. But yeah, the Celtics definitely, you know, are mostly a homegrown team in terms of having drafted most of their core players and really developed them. And so are the Warriors.

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Speaker 3: You know, this is certainly something Draymond, Klay and Steph have been, you know, they’ve only played for that one team their whole careers and certainly both teams have have made some very good additions. You know, I mean Al Horford has been really invaluable for the Celtics in his second stint with the team and similarly the Warriors adding Andrew Wiggins, who’s been, you know, a really tremendous contributor. We talked about him last week as someone who, you know, they acquired via a trade, a trade that was second guessed by some people at the time and has just turned out to look completely brilliant. So, yeah, certainly, you know, these are teams that have had some changes, but there’s also a lot of stability with them.

Speaker 1: To build on that point. Like I’ve always sort of talked about, if you have a really good team to just lean into it, right? That there’s no need to tear apart a team that has a superstar. So and maybe some pieces around them and maybe they fall short one year. And I think kind of the Celtics and the Warriors are good examples of that because there was a lot of especially out here in the bay like the last couple of years, they’re like, Oh, well, maybe Steph should move on and they should try to rebuild the team. And with the Celtics, you know, they ran up against, you know, so many other great teams for so long and maybe they should start over and trade their core or whatever.

Speaker 1: And I’m always like, That’s dumb because you just never know what’s going to happen. You don’t know who’s going to get hurt and what year, what opportunity is going to emerge. You know, what players are going to start clicking and finally the light comes on. Don’t you think that kind of this final sort of is a good example of that? Because nobody would think that these Warriors are Celtics teams or the best versions of the teams that they’ve ever been. But they caught some breaks and here they are.

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Speaker 2: But and it’s not even that they kept themselves to that together. It’s like a step further than that. And you kind of alluded to it, Jack. It’s like they kind of reconstituted themselves even further by, like getting Al Horford again and getting Daniel twice again until like really leaning in. Hard to not just staying together but like becoming even more themselves than they ever were before.

Speaker 3: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, what’s happened with the Celtics is really is pretty remarkable. You know, this was a team that was very disappointing in the first part of the season, as I say that as a as a Bostonian. And yeah, that was certainly something that, you know, the turnaround that they’ve made. But it has been yeah, as Joel was mentioning, like it’s a testament to, I think, kind of staying the course and patience.

Speaker 3: And, you know, it’s been really amazing to see the development of some of the younger players, you know, Robert Williams and Grant Williams, who are guys that they drafted, you know, and sort of the late first round. And I think Celtics fans in the organization always, you know, believed in their heart that these guys could become really, really good players. And it’s actually happened, you know, and they haven’t they didn’t give up on them. They didn’t they didn’t give up on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown being able to play together, which was certainly, you know, earlier this season, there was a lot of consternation about, you know, whether those guys can play together and things like that. And certainly Marcus Smart, who’s, you know, the longest, I think I think he’s the longest tenured Celtic and someone who they drafted back in 2014 and who’s just been with the team the whole time and has been this really, you know, kind of steadying influence. And it’s just there is something really validating, I think, about seeing these guys break through.

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Speaker 3: But, you know, the Warriors. That’s absolutely right. You know, the Warriors, as Joel was saying, there was, you know, this idea of like, oh, are they too old? Do they need to rebuild? And the organization had pursued this pretty interesting strategy of trying to inject younger players into, you know, around the core three. So you have, you know, a rookie like Jonathan Kuminga, who’s really, really exciting. And it’s pretty rare that you have a team that, you know, is this good that also has like an exciting lottery pick who’s a rookie. So yeah, they’re both very interesting and impressive kind of experiments and team building and also just team maintenance.

Speaker 1: And it’s not like the Warriors were perfect in getting this right because they picked James Wiseman when they could have had Lamelo ball, you know, like, Oh, look, imagine how different that team looks, even if they have Lamelo Ball instead of Wiseman, who’s not even playing for them right now, right?

Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, Wiseman could still end up being the guy that carries them forward, you know, 3 to 5.

Speaker 1: What do you mean? Like getting, you know, getting some picks for him or something, or. What do you mean? Like, yeah, well.

Speaker 2: It actually doesn’t like Lamelo Ball is an amazing, amazing player. It seems hard to imagine that the Warriors would be much better with him than they are with Jordan Poole. It’s just like he he would be like probably a better fit on the Celtics than he would be on the Warriors. But yeah, I mean, you’re you’re obviously right that Wiseman has been has done nothing for them. And yet there they are where they are.

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Speaker 2: Before we kind of linger too much on on the future, I want to go back to the Celtics nearly falling game seven against the Heat and just like the absolute like confluence of of narrative and we’ve we’ve talked about this before too just like the degree to which players are perhaps even more conscious and self-conscious about narrative than even like fans and pundits are. I think of Jayson Tatum wearing the Kobe Bryant number 24 armband during the game.

Speaker 1: So I like Jayson Tatum. I followed his career since he was in high school. But I mean, that’s just come on.

Speaker 2: I mean, I like him a little bit less after he did that. Like, obviously, Kobe Bryant meant so much to this generation of players and everyone has taken his death extremely hard. And so it’s it’s it’s not it feels a little bit churlish, you know, even with all the, shall we say, complexity of Kobe Bryant’s legacy to really hit him too hard for that. But just like I, I will never forget Kobe Bryant shooting six for 24 to lead the Lakers to a win over the Celtics in game seven of the NBA Finals. And I believe that was against the Celtics, was it not?

Speaker 1: Right. Yeah.

Speaker 2: It’s it’s so BoJack, isn’t it so funny how like players legacies and teams legacies get sort of like remixed and refashioned in such a short amount of time, because I would guess that in 2010, we’re probably having. A very different conversation about Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and the Celtics.

Speaker 2: And to imagine that the Celtics best player would in 2022 be wearing an armband of the Lakers best player, Kobe Bryant, as some sort of signifier of like Game seven greatness and clutch ness and would then lead his team to victory over a player who played way better than anyone on the Celtics in Game seven and yet missed the three pointer at the end and Jimmy Butler and then did not win the new Larry Bird Eastern Conference MVP award. Despite clearly being the best player in the series. It’s just like a very interesting set of like data points, unlike how we remember and talk about players in games instantly and then kind of in the very recent past.

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Speaker 3: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny, I’m old enough to remember, you know, Kobe’s own like really, really cloying obsession with Michael Jordan, you know, and like that just I remember at the time just feeling like that was like so corny how obsessed he was with Jordan and sort of paying all these tributes to him. So it’s now kind of weird seeing this new and you’re totally right, this generation of players is completely obsessed with with Kobe Bryant. You know, it’s not just Tatum, it’s Devin Booker and a lot of other guys as well kind of worship him.

Speaker 2: Is it like sort of a rock and roll thing of just like when guys die at a particular age in a particular moment then they.

Speaker 1: I don’t think so because I feel like he had a hold over his contemporaries and the generation that came right after him in a way that even LeBron doesn’t. Right. That there’s a lot of mythology.

Speaker 2: That’s.

Speaker 1: True around him that just did just that nobody else seemingly can touch or has been able to touch since then. Right.

Speaker 3: Yeah, totally. And part of it was very cultivated by Kobe. I mean, to his credit, like he did spend a lot of time with young players, you know, and took on this role of being sort of a mentor figure to a bunch of these guys. But yeah, he does have a very specific position kind of in the firmament of of, you know, old star players. And I think certainly his, you know, tragic death contributed to that. But I 100% agree with Joel that it was it was very much there prior to his death. I mean, I think the death has put it into a sort of different register. But, yeah, he was certainly someone who was a touchstone for a lot of these younger players for for a very long time prior to that.

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Speaker 1: Jack is a guy who, you know, a longtime Celtics fan, whatever. Right. Did you think the Jimmy Butler shot was going to go in when he took it?

Speaker 3: Man, I was I was just in such a state watching that fourth quarter. I ended up rewatching it again the next morning just because I was like I was like emotionally so on overdrive. Yeah. I mean, I think my heart was, you know, in my throat when he took that shot. It’s the kind of game that like. And not to sound like Bill Simmons or something.

Speaker 4: But like.

Speaker 3: If you’re a Boston sports fan, like that kind of game, you’re like, oh my God, we’re just going to lose. Like, this is like it feels, oh.

Speaker 1: No, no.

Speaker 2: I mean, the Celtics won like.

Speaker 1: In the South.

Speaker 2: Having won a million a million championships. And wait, Boston sports fans, haven’t they’ve been successful in other sports recently.

Speaker 1: Yeah, screw you. I mean.

Speaker 2: What a stupid what a stupid thing to say right there.

Speaker 3: Sports memory is the 1986 World Series. Okay.

Speaker 2: You know, come on, get over it. Get over it.

Speaker 3: No, but yeah. So, I mean, I always definitely I mean, especially with Butler, who’d been so good in that series, like when he put that shot up. Yeah. I mean, I think I was sort of surprised at that. It didn’t go in and I was surprised at the Celtics, you know, despite their best efforts seemingly to lose that game, you know, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat or whatever it is.

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Speaker 2: I mean, thank God that shot didn’t go in. Honestly, I’m like, I will confess, despite being not a fan of the whole Boston.

Speaker 1: So let’s say.

Speaker 2: That I do like that. I do like Tatum and Brown. I like this Celtics team. And also it’s just going to be so much better of a series. Yeah. Like watching the heat, like, try to make a shot against the Warriors. I mean, these playoffs have been a disappointment since that first round. And, you know, the Celtics certainly have it in them to play badly. We’ve seen that repeatedly throughout these playoffs and they have, but they also have it in them to make other teams look bad, too. And so it’s something that I think anticipation should be high, hopefully unlike other series that will live up to the anticipation. But you know that the Warriors seem like kind of the betting favorite, the analytical favorite is the Celtics. You know, it it will be interesting to see what happens and hopefully will be interesting stylistically, too.

Speaker 3: Yeah, definitely. I think you know, I think there’s a consensus around most basketball fans who’ve been watching these playoffs. I would say that, you know, especially when you factor in injuries and things like that, that I think these are the two the two best teams. And this is definitely a finals where it doesn’t feel like either of these teams was sort of a fluke finals entry. And I think I think it’ll be a really good series. And I think they’re, you know, a stat you’re going to hear a lot you’re going to get so sick of it is that the Celtics are the only team with a winning record against the Warriors since Steve Kerr became coach.

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Speaker 3: So they are they’re they’re pretty well matched and I think it’ll be yeah, it could potentially be a really a really excellent series, particularly on the heels of what I think most people feel like we’re pretty lackluster conference finals series. You know, the Warriors made pretty easy hay of the Mavs in the Celtics series, even though it went to seven games like was pretty brutal to watch a lot of the time. Like they’re really, you know, as we talked about last week, there really just weren’t very many really good games in that series. I mean, Game seven was probably the best game of that series that we got.

Speaker 1: Not to be annoying narrative guy, but it’s probably come up a few times. But I’m sure people are going to not make anything of the fact that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving left their respective teams to build something special. And now those teams are in the finals and they got swept in the first round. But anyway, Jack, thanks so much for joining us again and good luck to your Celtics. And I say that as a Bay Area resident. I hope I hope they pull it off.

Speaker 3: Thanks, guys. This is great. Thanks again for having me on.

Speaker 1: Up next, we’ll have insiders bradford William Davis on to talk about the white sox as Tim Anderson and his dispute with the yankees Josh Donaldson.

Speaker 2: Three years ago, Sports Illustrated Stephanie Apstein published a piece headlined Tim Anderson is Going to Play the Game His Way. That story begins. Tim Anderson’s baseball life is often a lonely one, even when he’s on first base, usually the most social stop on the diamond. My conversation is limited over there, he says. It’s like, What’s up, dude? What’s up, man? How are you doing today? Because we don’t have nothing in common. The piece goes on to note that Anderson was then one of only 72 black players in Major League Baseball and that he felt out of place in the sport like he belongs on the field, but not in the game. And then a bit later in the story, after mention of the work that Anderson does to help introduce inner city Chicago kids to baseball, he said, I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson. That’s huge to say. But it’s cool, man, because he changed the game and I feel like I’m getting to a point where I need to change the game.

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Speaker 2: All right. Fast forward to a little more than a week ago. Another player, the Yankees Josh Donaldson, threw that quote back in Anderson’s face, calling him Jackie on the field. That comment led to Donaldson getting suspended for a game and the Yankees player, for some reason, apologizing to Jackie Robinson’s widow. Joining us now is Bradford William Davis. He is an investigative reporter for Insider and he wrote about Tim Anderson and Josh Donaldson for Defector last week.

Speaker 2: Welcome back to the show.

Speaker 4: Yo, thank you for having me.

Speaker 2: Great to have you. And I’m grateful to have you here to walk us through what happened here in a bit more detail and maybe explain what sort of interactions Donaldson and Anderson had had before this. And I guess there’s a little bit of a difference of opinion between them on what the kind of nature of their relationship was.

Speaker 4: Yeah, difference of opinion isn’t even a half of it. Derek Tim Anderson almost directly refutes with Josh Donaldson said their relationship was but to start with Donaldson side of the story. Apparently in 2019, after that Sports Illustrated profile, Josh took delivery, took it upon himself to begin calling Tim Anderson Jackie. Tim Anderson did not appreciate that in the moment, but Josh Donaldson said that that he laughed about it, and so he continued to do that during the 2022 season, which is right now.

Speaker 4: And. Tim John, back after hearing it a couple of times in the field during a heated Yankees White Sox game. Benches cleared and you know, they had their words. No one, no punches thrown, but they were definitely almost there. But as Tim calls it, he never appreciated that. He always felt that that was out of pocket for him to be calling him his calling him Jackie because. They’re not friends like that, I guess. He said that something that something defective. If you speak to me like that, we don’t have to talk anymore. That’s what Tim Anderson said. And.

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Speaker 4: And so from James, from Tim side, which is a side I happen to believe is the true side here. Josh had continue the needle and continued to provoke him. And they had already had a they’d already had the both times and already had a scuffle in the week prior during the game that they played. So he was so there was already bad blood simmering when that happened and it exploded into what we saw on the last week and a half.

Speaker 1: You know, in the days since then, obviously, there’s been a lot of, you know, reaction around the league, even at Yankee Stadium, that, you know, the day after this kind of blew up. Who do you think? Because you talk about there’s a difference of opinion, but it goes beyond that. Like this is a totally you know, they don’t dare even coming from front in the same point. Who do you think story has resonated the most within baseball? Right. Like, I’m not asking you about outside of that, but within baseball, who do you think people believe are side with the most in this case here?

Speaker 4: It’s a great question. It feels a little like a civil war. I can’t say like one side is definitely over the other because, I mean, I only have my circle people and I try not to hang out with people who invoke disease and goaded civil rights icons to mock me.

Speaker 1: So, like.

Speaker 4: I just don’t have a good sample. But I will say that that a lot of the players that I’ve spoken to who felt that Josh Donaldson is a known instigator and has kind of a rep, and so there was a decent amount of frustration that he that he went there. However, many fans, including like the baseball community, include fans were quite, you know, and particularly Yankees fans that were very sympathetic towards Josh Donaldson because they felt that he was just busting balls and that Tim brought it upon himself to get mocked by, I guess, you know, again I mean that’s like but DC civil rights icon police. And respect their Josh Donaldson for drawing a comparison between himself and his hero. So that is so there really.

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Speaker 4: So there are I think there really are two minds that and then somewhere in the middle are people who maybe don’t approve of what Josh Donaldson said, thought it was maybe unwise, but felt that he didn’t mean anything by it and that it was ultimately just him being a troll but not doing something with a clear racial animus underlying the trolling. Basically we don’t know the contents of his heart.

Speaker 1: Right.

Speaker 1: Real quick to follow up here. So there’s those three sides of this, right, of looking at it. And I’m just curious to know if you all are surprised that, you know, Tony La Russa is Tim Anderson’s manager. Of course. Right. So, I mean, in some ways he has the right form, but that he wrote for him so hard. I mean, Tony La Russa is a guy who, I mean, was openly supported the Tea Party, you know, brought, you know, Albert Pujols to a Glenn Beck rally. You know, I mean, like this is not the guy that you would think would be lining up with Tim Anderson. And so to me, that sort of says a little something, doesn’t it? Even like even if you just even if even if you just except okay, look, a manager kind of has to side with his players, but for him to come out so vocally and defend Tim in this instance says a little something, doesn’t it?

Speaker 4: Yeah. I think that that part is a little overplayed, to be perfectly honest, because one, it is his manager and so he had his back. And so that’s not totally uncommon for a manager to have his back despite the. Perhaps different politics of values that Anderson La Russa may have. The other thing is that Tony La Russa has allegedly been a strong supporter of whether or not Bruce Maxwell, who some may remember as a former catcher with the Oakland A’s, that a couple of cups of coffee, a very marginal player, not Tim Anderson and totally different spectrum as far as their skill and performance anyway in the field. But is someone who kneeled during the anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick back in 2017.

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Speaker 4: So, right, so right after cap because it was essentially exile and football and and according to Bruce like and he’s very vocal about this Tony La Russa supported me and which is again is interesting given that Tony La Russa was was critical of San Francisco Giants manager game cap wear for choosing to have to stage a similar protest during the anthem this year.

Speaker 4: But I think Tony is the kind of person, the kind of person who believes that everyone should be allowed to do what they want. Even if I disagree with your methods and approach, kind of like, you know, I’ll die for your right to do something that pisses me off. You know, that kind of conservative sort of approach to things is the GOP that we need in this country, as some might say. So that’s that’s kind of what I think, Tony, is coming from here, you know. You know, whether you want to call him a hashtag ally in the fight is, you know, I think a another subject I don’t want to debate here, but I do think that he does believe in the right of people to express themselves.

Speaker 2: I mean, Tony La Russa is though like a big play, the game the right way guy. And I do seem to recall that he’s like criticized guys on his own team for quote unquote, not playing the game the right way. But this is like intersects like so many different kind of baseball third rails because, you know, Bradford Tim Anderson has been a guy who the league has celebrated in ad campaigns for being somebody who brings excitement to the game. He celebrates who, you know, tosses it, flips his bat and stuff. But there is, like we’ve been saying, the strong undercurrent and not always an undercurrent of people in and around the game who don’t support behavior like that prominently to most prominently, Tony La Russa. And sort of, you know, I think it’s important for people that don’t follow the sports in this context.

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Speaker 2: Tim Anderson is an amazing, amazing player. Like one of the best players in the game was hitting in the 350 years right before he got hurt recently and is just a superstar in the game. And so sort of like somebody like Bryce Harper, right? Like somebody who both is a great player but also is like, you know, likes to celebrate his own greatness as as so many of us like to do. So how much of this is about kind of Tim Anderson and the way that he is? Received in the game versus, you know, how this would play out with any other player.

Speaker 4: I think that with Tim, he is yes, he’s definitely very celebrated. But baseball does have this culture that he’s rubbing against, which is the whole angle of that Sports Illustrated profile from three years ago and. He’s a lightning rod because of that. Because he is so aggressively. Being himself. And he is a bombastic, boisterous person who loves to have fun and so and celebrate his wins whenever they come.

Speaker 4: And and so it’s there’s an importance to getting this right, I think. I’m not sure exactly how the league seasons, but, you know but I think certainly many fans would see this. You know certainly you know some of the players have spoken to as well. Like there is a importance in getting you right that you don’t have too many Tim Anderson frankly, you have more Bryce Harper than you have Tim Anderson even though Bryce Harper is more Salvatore than the generation before him. Because, you know, because he’s he’s so talented and so charismatic and and a proudly black American men in this game.

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Speaker 4: So it calls him, I guess, into the question, the suspension being so short, in my opinion, given that people have instigated a lot less and gotten more more games in the past, I want to say like Amir Garrett, like a few games for just kind of looking the wrong way. That caused a ruckus. And granted, Amir Garrett is a repeat offender, right? Amir Guy being a reliever turner since I want to see the Cincinnati Reds now, I know the Royals. He’s me, but so is Josh Donaldson. Josh Donaldson has been at this for a decade. He’s he’s been he’s he’s always that guy. It is a it’s part of what makes him great in some ways because he because he also plays a supreme confidence and celebrates wins. But he. But you know but is but is a big reason why a lot of people don’t like them. Like I mean, you know, I do think the baseball of it all, this person really and him being so different from the culture that was handed to him is a big reason why this is drawing the attention that it has.

Speaker 1: So stepping back for a second, what do you all think resonates the most here? Is it Tim Anderson and his celebration of himself in the game? Right. That like Tim Anderson is a guy who’s one of the best players in the league, makes no bones about it and celebrates himself at every opportunity, which is great. Like, that’s awesome. And that that’s drawn him some attention to himself.

Speaker 1: Or is it that he’s referred to himself as basically being alone out there? And, you know, the fact that the Josh Donaldson or whatever out there to antagonize him and he seems sort of lonely in this this journey, right? Like I’m I guess I was trying to figure, like, as this happened, like if you’re a young black baseball player, like let’s say you’re 11 years old and you’re trying to make a decision about what sport do I really want to play? I’m just like, What? Which of these two things do you think would resonate the most? Is it Tim Anderson’s greatness or the way that it is regarded in the way that it’s treated, you know, over the past few years?

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Speaker 4: I certainly hope it’s him because he, I think, responded in a perfect way. And then the next day he hit a massive three run home run to secure a doubleheader sweep against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. And that entire day, fans were chanting Jackie at him. So they made the subtext into Tex by making it into a slur as as as he played. But he hit a three run home run. He I believe he yelled out like, shut the f up and made it feel like his hand to his ears, you know, and and then decide, did they just try it as he secured a big win for his team?

Speaker 4: I think that his ability to overcome is hopefully a symbolic sign for a lot of young, young kids. But that is what the symbol is. One thing, the actual dating reality of being an eight and 11 year old on a travel team. Go out of your neighborhood where you’re no longer with other you know, with your family with. But, you know, if you live in a black neighborhood, you’re, you know, your community and stuck with a bunch of Tyler and Trevor is and Josh is pitching this.

Speaker 1: It doesn’t look fun at all. Right. Like that. It sounds like nobody wants to be you want to be Tim Anderson, but you don’t want to live Tim Anderson life if you’re a professional athlete. Right?

Speaker 4: Right. It’s like, so how long you want to hold on to that? You will spend the next 12, 12 years. And many of it perhaps in the minor leagues making, you know, below poverty rate. It is all due to have people, you know, turn against civil rights icons and C slurs. Just because you want to improve the game. And I think that’s a really important point that that is, I think, lost in all this, that Tim Anderson is actually pretty fabulous carrier Jackie Obama’s legacy. Like, he he he is very involved in his you know, in the communities that he’s a part of. He’s a great baseball player. And and he’s making it fun in a way that that gives you all a lot more comfort to be themselves. And we’ve seen that. We’ve seen way more back flips in the Post Tim Anderson’s breakout era. It’s not only Tim Anderson doing that, but I think he’s a big part of that.

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Speaker 4: So he is changing the culture slowly within the sport. You know, it doesn’t mean he is breaking the color barrier. I think having a modicum of charity when interpreting his words would say that he that he is not placing so as an equivalent to Jackie Robinson, but just that he’s trying to honor his legacy by making it a little bit easier for for a generation behind him to feel welcome and supported in this game. That’s it.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And so in the Sports Illustrated piece, he. Made an argument that black kid should go into baseball, like despite everything that had been going on with them, he said. You know, football, dangerous path. This is actually Stephanie Apstein swords. Football is dangerous. Basketball’s for physical freaks, but an otherwise unremarkable child can dedicate himself to baseball and give himself a shot at college. Like that’s. That’s the argument. And there are a lot of really great young black players in the majors and also, you know, in high school and college.

Speaker 2: Right. Right now, it’s not like there’s a total dearth. And I think a lot of that can be credited to Anderson and players like him. But the thing that I find really kind of amazing about him is the guy who says that Jackie Robinson, quote, is somebody who is not ashamed or hiding. He’s proud. He’s a smart guy and kind of understands, I think, how people are going to read that and think about it and and interpret it. And he’s willing to own it. He was willing to own it in 2019 and understands kind of his importance in the game.

Speaker 2: And I mean, there is also an incident, Bradford, that happened just before that Sports Illustrated piece came out where he flipped his bat, a white pitcher threw at him and could have seriously hurt him. And Anderson shouted the N-word at the at the pitcher and got suspended for a game the same amount the Josh Donaldson got suspended for it. And then when Stephanie Apstein asked him about what he said, he said, Yeah, I said exactly what I said. And he wasn’t running away from it. He wasn’t shying away from it. This is not, again, a guy who’s, like, afraid to say what he thinks, to own what he said and he’s not. I think he probably wishes he wasn’t controversial, but it doesn’t seem like he’s going to, you know. Mince his words or anything like that.

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Speaker 4: Yeah. He’s. He certainly seems to be very comfortable in his skin. I unfortunately have never had a chance to have a staff actually have a conversation with him for longer than 8 seconds. But I do hope to, because I would love to to hear a little bit of why he has been able to, I guess, mentally prepare himself for the things that he that he deals with without wincing in any sort of discernible way. Not to say that there is there aren’t probably things that he may not say that he would say if he stuck with basketball instead of baseball as he wanted to for a long time in high school. But he’s a got a very special mindset and that’s great.

Speaker 4: But back to what Joel was saying, you shouldn’t have to have a super special Brazilian mindset to deal with things. You should be you should be okay with being like, you know, like your feelings are good and you know, if you. Yeah. Well, I mean, to say is you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t need to have such tough skin to make it as far as you do in, in organized American baseball. And that’s a problem. Hopefully, Tim Anderson can make things better again for a generation coming after him. But. That is what the but the key issue is that you need to be so unique and so special, not just with your bat speed or your range is short or your arm or something like that, but also in your head. That’s that is what I certainly hope changes through, Anderson, continuing to be himself, but probably like 20 other structural things that we don’t have time to deal with as well.

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Speaker 2: All right, Bradford, you’re going to stick around and we’re going to talk about another dispute in baseball that led to a suspension. A more lighthearted topic. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Speaker 2: This week’s bonus segment for Slate Plus members. We’re here to talk about the shooting, the new Val de Texas and how the sports world has responded, including Steve Kerr’s comments at a press conference and Gabe Kepler’s decision to stop coming out for the national anthem. If you want to hear that discussion, you need to be a Slate Plus member. And if you’re a member, you don’t just get bonus segments on the show and other slate shows. You can listen to this podcast, another slide podcast of early ads, and you can get the pleasure of knowing you are supporting this show, which would not be possible without the support of Slate Plus members. So sign up, go to Slate.com, slash hang up plus at Slate.com and such thing a plus.

Speaker 2: So here is a set of events that actually happened before Friday’s game between Cincinnati and San Francisco. The Reds Tommy Pham approached the Giants Joc Pederson in the outfield and slapped him across the face, an act that led to Pham getting suspended for three games for comparing suspension. Lengthier Pham explained to the next day that Peterson had, quote, said some shit I don’t condone. Meanwhile, in the other locker room, Peterson was telling his side of the story that, Listen.

Speaker 5: I put somebody, a player on the injured reserve when they were listed as out and added another player. And then there’s a text message in the group saying that I was cheating because I was stashing players on my bench.

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Speaker 2: So let’s stop that. This goes on for a lot longer. But this exchange confirms the fact that I’d already suspected. But now I know with absolute certainty that even the most interesting fantasy sports argument in history is just incredibly boring. And it’s substance. But it does get better because Pham, who was on the San Diego Padres last year, he wasn’t just upset that Peterson was doing something or other with his fantasy football roster. He was also mad about what was going on in the group chat, and thankfully Jack Peterson walked us through that part too.

Speaker 5: It is true I did send you a gif making fun of the Padres and if I heard anyone’s feelings, I apologize for that.

Speaker 2: Though there is some more backstory here that we can get into in a minute. But I just wanted to get to you as quickly as possible, because I feel like you’re maybe more equipped than anyone on Earth to analyze. What happened here.

Speaker 1: Is that you think I’m some sort of slapping expert, or is it because is it because is it because jocks from Palo Alto or because I’ve seen that devolve into violence before? What did you.

Speaker 2: Love? You love analyzing dumb fights. Yes. And it’s true. You like to, you know, say say things and, you know, maybe maybe tease people a little bit. Maybe a little bit.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I’m a little t that’s that’s fair. I’ll take that. I’ll take that. Well, I mean, so I think the thing that was funny to me is that if you didn’t know the players or their names and just laid out the facts of the case anonymously. Right. You think it was like this dust up between a pair of 20 somethings who are out of it at a triple-A ball? Like, is this, you know, the GIFs, the fantasy football, the group chat, all of it. Just some real Gen Z shit. And then I just realized that the people involved here were like 34 and 30 years old. Yeah, these are. These are grown ass men, you know? But it makes sense in the context of baseball and brethren, I’m sorry if this you know, I know you cover baseball and you said you’re not a baseball player, but it makes sense in the context of baseball to me because they’re the players tend to be more juvenile than other professional athletes on the average. Is that fair? Is that a fair characterization of baseball players, that they’re more juvenile than like your typical NFL or NBA player? Right. You know.

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Speaker 4: I don’t know. I feel like helmet syndrome does something to football players like of just kind of like needing to be seen in a way that is they might be a little different. But but, you know, again, I’m not the I’m not the football player. I’m not the 12 year old track star. I don’t know. I just think.

Speaker 1: It’s fine, fine, fine, fine, fine.

Speaker 4: I think the thing that’s the funniest thing about all of this is just that Tommy Pham is no longer on the team that was being made fun of and he still held it in for so long.

Speaker 1: There’s no moment, he said about the Padres right away. Right.

Speaker 4: But there’s evidence there’s five fingers of five fingerprints that would attest to something that has to do with the fact that he does care deeply about how others perceive the 2021 Padres.

Speaker 2: I didn’t know that there had been anyone in the entire history of humanity that had cared about the Padres being insulted. So when we learn something, Josh.

Speaker 4: May be right, maybe entirely right.

Speaker 1: I mean, I grew up with two kids in my neighborhood, Joey and Audrey. And if you all happened, if you listen to this, strangely enough, from the eighties, they moved into my neighborhood. They were the only two Padres fans I ever knew, and they lived in Missouri City, Texas, in the late eighties. So they did care. Maybe they would have some feelings on that.

Speaker 1: But just real quick. Let me not pretend that I have a problem with slapping someone over perceived disrespect generally. That’s something that I absolutely understand and I even respect in certain contexts. But I mean, bro, I mean, Tommy seems like a hothead. Like, to me, it’s just like you were looking for a reason to slap that dude, right? Like, I just like, that’s. That’s bottom line. Like, I just think that you didn’t like that guy. You probably, like, been watching that group chat, you know, go down. You just, like, I just don’t fuck with that dude. And you were looking for any opportunity to slap that guy, and when it arose, you took it. That’s what I.

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Speaker 4: Think. I think some important context Tommy Pham is that he plays with like hips and shoulders. That is that is why he’s had a good long career, really. There’s actually a Sports Illustrated article about that from like 2017. We had a breakout year with the St Louis Cardinals, but in the previous two seasons he was a good player. If he was like constantly being shuttled between the major and minor leagues and he’s like really mad. Like I’m clearly one of the better players on this team and I was before even my breakout season. Why am I still in the minors? He is driven by that sort of anger and desire for for vengeance against all enemies, real or perceived.

Speaker 4: And, you know, again, I hate that I’m essentially describing an angry black man trope. But this this is one of those times where, you know, you should not systemically, broadly, you know, put all all black males into this. But the shoe fits. He’s angry and he and he uses it to be good. And so I think that is kind of what what happens when you when you have that, when that’s what drives you, is what makes you a millionaire, makes you a star baseball player. It’s hard to turn it off when you don’t matter anymore. I think that’s exactly what happened when he had the when he had to do the when the fantasy football beef smart is that you know it was it’s the equivalent of the guy in the bar, you know, waiting for someone to look at him, the glance in his eyes in the wrong way. And they. Oh, you talking to me? Talk to my girl, you know? All right, well, that’s a step outside. He wants that fight because it’s what makes him a good player.

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Speaker 2: Don’t we feel like? Well, everything that you guys said is is true, but don’t we feel like this is just, like, about money? That he’s just mad and even he even says that explicitly, you’re fucking with my money. Oh, there’s actually more. You’re fucking with my money. Then you’re going to say some disrespectful shit. There’s a code to this. I did not realize that there’s a code with Padre as gifts, but I think what happened here is let’s let’s throw some money to throw some dollar figures out here. Joel Like how much money do you think would have had to be involved for Joc Pederson to get slapped like that? Are we talking about like Tommy Pham feels like you cost him? Oh, I mean, these guys make a lot of money, actually, because they’re professional athletes. You think it’s like five figures?

Speaker 1: Six figures? I was starting here. I was saying $10,000 is probably where you start because.

Speaker 2: 10,000 was the number that was in my head, too.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Uh huh.

Speaker 2: Did you have an imaginary dollar figure in your head, Bradford?

Speaker 4: Yeah, I kind of wonder if it’s like even six. I mean, like, these guys have a lot of money, yo, they have so much money, man. Like, and Tommy fans do like he like, you know, he actually was stabbed in front of a strip club, fortunately, you know, recovered well, but, like, you know, not too long ago. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1: Oh, I think I do that. What’s it? Yeah. What city did to get back where I need to do.

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Speaker 2: Well do some research on the research.

Speaker 1: I got back.

Speaker 2: Oh it was in San Diego. In San Diego.

Speaker 4: Yeah, that’s my point. Okay. So yeah, I mean, yeah, he’s, you know, he’s he’s made he’s made his money, you know, like he’s, you know, he’s a multimillionaire. And as his Joc, I would have to think is has it has to cross six figures because for money to be the true issue here and not like respect, I think respect is sort of it. You know, I think even even when it comes to that I’ll stuff like the ah the, you know the fantasy roster issues is that like this is a disrespectful way to conduct your fantasy football team and I have a problem with it. And then on top of that you make fun of the team that I no longer play for but was a part of How Dare You? And so I really think it’s yeah, it’s fight and honestly I do respect that and but because frankly I, I write best when I mean, when I’m like, I wish, I wish I could concentrate better on words when I, when I’m in, like, a good state of mind, but I’m not. So.

Speaker 2: Here are a couple of things that Tommy Pham has said in the past few years. And about this incident. He said, I’m a big dog in Vegas. I’m a high roller at many casinos, which is like I thought that that was like something that Ron Burgundy said, an anchor man.

Speaker 4: But you know, where he’s from is from Vegas.

Speaker 1: From Vegas. I was like, so that actually is I thought that was bullshit, but I was like, Oh, that actually could be true. That’s probably true. Right?

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Speaker 2: I and here after the, the strip club stabbing incident, there were hecklers and Pham said in response that the fans heckling him about softening stabbed. He said when someone comes up to me cursing me like that, I could defend myself. And, you know, I’m a very good fighter. I don’t do Muay Thai kung fu and box for no reason.

Speaker 1: I love this guy.

Speaker 4: That’s all I’m saying is like, it’s not about money because the man is probably blowing ten times his fantasy football earnings.

Speaker 2: Throw away it away. There’s another. There’s another quote. There’s another quote. So earlier this like a month ago, there was an issue with a slight at home plate that Tommy Pham didn’t didn’t appreciate. And he he offered to fight a former teammate of his, Luke Voit, and said, if Luke wants to settle it, I get down really well. Anything Muay Thai or whatever. I’ve got a gym owner here who will let me use his facility, so fuck him. Oh, I mean, Joel, this is like your favorite player ever.

Speaker 4: Now it’s a podcast. You can’t see who. Reuters friends, Google Luke Voit. That man is strong. That me like? No. Like when he was in the Yankees. Like, I would ask him for, like, workout tips, like he told me about, like, eating asparagus, which, like a bodybuilder friend of his knows, like it produces, you know, muscle growth better than many vegetables like he is. Like there are videos of him lifting a bench with plates on a barbell with the plates on both sides with just one hand. Like, that’s that’s a kind of like, wow, meat had, you know, driven to the grind of gains that Will Voight is he’s a big guy. And so for Tommy Pham to do that like that that says a lot a lot about Tommy Pham that he wants to like fight again, not only his presumable friend or even, you know, from from a previous team, but also like, you know, the biggest guy, one of the biggest guys on the field any time.

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Speaker 1: Do you know who Tommy Pham is? I’m just this is just kind of occurring to me and see if this analogy is he’s Pacman Jones. Is this a Pacman Jones? Tommy Pham is Pacman Jones. Like we know that he can fight. He’s had you know, he’s open to fighting at a strip club for open to fighting pretty much anywhere. And it’s like you don’t want to be associated with that dude that you do not want to have to go out with that person. You don’t want to have any real sort of interaction with him because you’re just what you, you know, you don’t know what wire you’re going to trip. But at a distance, he seems like a fun motherfucker. They’re like, he’s like, I just I like that vibe. Like, I feel like all professional sports need players like this as long as, you know, as long as they keep it in between the lines. And you are did see the slap right itself.

Speaker 2: With like a.

Speaker 4: Blurry photo, right? I mean, like blur.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I mean, that ended of itself. And I know that slapping is like, you know, some great crime in America up until, you know, right up until a couple, couple bucks ago. But I just I kind of dig that dude’s vibe. I think all professional sports need a guy like this, you know, assuming they can survive their off field fights. But in baseball would much rather talk about this than Josh Donaldson. They’d much rather talk about this than, you know, the Anaheim scandal that’s going on where, you know, corruption in everything was used to set aside land for the angels. Right. So, like, I mean, if I’m baseball, like three games, whatever, that’s fine. I mean, he deserved the suspension or whatever, but like, that’s that’s the kind of story you want to have out there, I think.

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Speaker 2: Well, this story is just such an amazing burn to the Joel Anderson agenda, which is that that agenda being as a society, we should not pretend to care about things like this or to like, you know, take them like super seriously and like just the story with the the fantasy football and the group chat leading to a slap. I think all of America is behind you on this one joke that we we shouldn’t try to argue that this is problematic.

Speaker 2: But I should I will add and this is getting back to something that Bradford said earlier. I mean, Tommy Pham like this is a guy who like had to wear leg braces when he was an infant. He overcame like an eye issue to play in the the majors. He has, you know, his his when he grew up, his dad was in prison. Like he has a really amazing story. And the fact that he was able to make it to the majors is really cool.

Speaker 2: But this is like a guy with all of the stuff around him. Like, this might be funny. It does feel like there could be like something that happens with him in the future that’s like less funny. And I feel kind of like, I don’t know if I, if I feel bad for the guy is the right term. But like, you know, there’s a there’s a, I guess a fine line between like playing with a chip on your shoulder and like, you know, the humor of being mad at somebody about some dumb fantasy shit and like having some, like, self-control, self-control issues. And I just like, worrying about what’s going to what’s going to happen with this guy in the future.

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Speaker 1: No, no. I mean, I think that’s fair, right? Yeah. I mean, you don’t want it to like if you can’t control your anger, you can’t control your anger. And that can lead you down some really dark places eventually, right?

Speaker 4: Yeah. I hope that he’s able to just better drive it towards competitive fire. And and only competitive fire. Like, I don’t want to proclaim that he’s going to be like in jail when he’s 50 or something like that at all. Like, like, you know, there’s plenty of time to work to where to work out your your hangups in a way that that you drive it towards the things that matter and step away from things. I don’t it’s hard but like it’s possible and I’m but I yeah. Right now I’m grateful that it is a purely funny story at this point. Like I think about slap get one, you know, and the many referendums that are made about black on black crime or something of that nature like I’m glad this is not that. I’m glad that this is, you know, as harmless and PG as violence can be like, you know, the country.

Speaker 1: So and let’s not overlook Joc Pederson here, by the way, he seems like an extremely cool guy. Like he took I don’t know what he knows about Tommy or maybe he knows all of the same things we know about Tommy, which is why he took that slap, you know, fairly graciously. He’s like, I guess I earned that. But, like, he just seems like a really cool guy. I’m so happy that he was willing to open up his phone and group chat to the rest of us. That was so generous of him.

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Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, that’s that’s the last point I would make is that like Bradford is somebody who goes into locker rooms like, I mean, isn’t this the best case and demonstration of why it’s so important, like in this era where like they’re trying to restrict journalistic access to players and locker rooms and it’s like everything on Zoom, just like it just brought so much joy to me to see, like, this gaggle of reporters around Jack Peterson. And he’s, like, showing his phone and like answering everyone’s question. I mean, America needed this. And, like, this is just, you know, Bradford, you should be in be able to go in any locker room that you that you want and need to go to because America America needs these moments with.

Speaker 4: Adam Silver is listening.

Speaker 1: Back look.

Speaker 4: At this will be what you miss you you are you’re in the conference I went to the finals and your sport is sort of cultural touchpoint in this country. And you lost the entire weekend to a fantasy football game. And Major League Baseball. Has media had access to the player? Let us in. Let us in. Adam.

Speaker 2: And this is another testament to the popularity of football. The like when does baseball make it in the news? Because of.

Speaker 1: Course, you know, you know, I’ve never played fantasy football in my life, but if it gets people well, actually, you know, at this this makes even more of a case for why I’ve never done it, because I don’t want to get that emotional about anything, you know what I mean? That’s like I had enough going on in life with that, it escalating to something like that. But yeah, now football still kind of boy. Oh, speaking of football, by the way, you know, I did not know much about Chuck Peterson and I had, but so I had to look this up. He’s a local product right out here, probably a probably Viking. Did this factoid on his Wikipedia fucking blew my mind. You know what? I’m going to repeal Peterson.

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Speaker 4: I do.

Speaker 1: Peterson was the team’s number one wide receiver, racking up more yards and touchdowns than his teammate. Future NFL wide receiver Davante Adams. I was like, Whoa, who’s up? Here’s what, Doug. I like that guy to bear. So shout out Joc Pederson who you love both.

Speaker 2: You love both of these guys. This fight really raised both of them. That an esteem in your eyes?

Speaker 1: Oh, my God. Yeah. I mean, that this firmly in my top five favorite baseball players already so thanks for their.

Speaker 2: Ninth and career home runs among Jews, baby. Let’s go.

Speaker 1: Oh, what a mensch. We all got something to root for here.

Speaker 2: Bradford William Davis writes for Insider. He investigates stuff for Insider. We talked about his great piece about the baseball not that long ago, and he wrote about the other incident that we talked about, the Tim Anderson Josh Donaldson one for Defector bradford, thank you so much for spending time with us. Appreciate it.

Speaker 4: Always a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 2: And now it is time for After Balls. And Joel. I don’t know if you knew, but while you were gone, we got a sponsor. Bennett’s prune juice.

Speaker 1: Really?

Speaker 2: Endorsed by any sailor who says it was okay.

Speaker 1: Bennett’s princess promises good ideas. My dad raised me on fringes. That’s fine. So.

Speaker 2: Oh, man. Hang up and listen. After all. Sponsored by Bennett’s fringes. Endorsed by Joel Anderson, who says, My dad raised me on fringes. So Joel just because I find fantasy sports disputes desperately boring, even when they lead to slapping. We didn’t mention the player who was the kind of the eye of the storm. So the issue was the Joc Pederson put a guy on his injured list. Whatever, blah, blah, blah. But the player was Jeff Wilson.

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Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Kind of.

Speaker 1: Jeff Wilson.

Speaker 2: Generic ass name Jeff Wilson. But he is a running back. So again, another reason why the story is just like right in the center of the Venn diagram of your interest. And not only that, he played college football at North Texas.

Speaker 1: Really? I did not know that. For some reason, I thought this guy was from Florida, but. Okay.

Speaker 2: Huh? Oh, wait. Here we go. High school football at Elkhart High School in Texas.

Speaker 1: Oh, okay. I want to say Elkhart is in East Texas, but I may have that wrong. You go looking for.

Speaker 2: Elkhart, Texas, southwestern Anderson County. Have you heard of it?

Speaker 1: Oh, yeah, that’s in East Texas. Also, he was born in Palestine, Texas. You know who else is a great running back? Was born in Palestine, Texas, right?

Speaker 2: Oh, I should know that.

Speaker 1: Adrian Peterson.

Speaker 2: That’s right. Adrian Peterson. I know it sounds familiar.

Speaker 2: So, Joel, since I’m doing the after ball today.

Speaker 4: Hmm?

Speaker 2: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?

Speaker 1: Anything I’d like to ask you? Yeah.

Speaker 2: You know how we do this? Remember how we do this?

Speaker 1: Oh, yeah, right. Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve been off for so long.

Speaker 2: Oh, we’re leaving all this in, but go ahead.

Speaker 1: Yeah, okay. You got it. Well, you get to retake. Okay, so, Josh, who is your Jeff Wilson for today?

Speaker 2: So, Joel, there’s a phrase that’s been a part of our lives, I think, ever since both of us have been sentient sports watchers. So basically, like since mid early to mid eighties, it’s a phrase that evokes the natural cycles of fandom and team building, of highs and lows, of success and failure, of reaping and sowing if we want to get biblical about it. And that phrase is rebuilding year.

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Speaker 2: Hmm. Since I happened to mention 1980s, I’m going to pick 1985 here. Just as an example, let’s start off with a survey of teams that, according to LexisNexis, we’re going through rebuilding years. In 1885, you got the Villanova basketball team coming off a national championship. Earlier that year, the Clemson football team coming off probation under Coach Danny for the entire sport of American figure skating, which had slim hopes for medals at the world championships. All sorts of high school teams there were suffering losses from graduation and also the company Wave Tech, which did tests and measurement instrumentation and was having, quote, unanticipated difficulties and growth.

Speaker 2: So it’s clear from that list that the concept was and is far reaching. It’s not specific to any sport or to team sports or even to sports at all. Trying to figure out the origins of the term rebuilding year. It’s a little difficult given the prevalence of non metaphorical usages of the term, like people rebuilding their houses a year after a fire. But I did learn from newspapers, AECOM, that in 1815 the Cornell football team was rebuilding next year. Nine years later, a headline said, The Yale football coach must do plenty of rebuilding this year. And while I’m guessing there were earlier references that I missed the first, quote, rebuilding year I could find with no words in between the rebuilding in the year. But the Pittsburgh Press in 1828, noting that a victory in the Duquesne football team’s final game would make the team’s record read pretty well for the rebuilding year.

Speaker 1: We’ve talked a lot about Duquesne football on this podcast, by the way.

Speaker 2: They’re definitely punching above their weight.

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Speaker 1: That’s right. Yeah.

Speaker 2: The rebuilding year will clearly be with us forever. Conceptually, the Chicago Cubs, they’re using their rebuilding year to see if Niko Horner is a long term answer. A shortstop says the athletic New York State’s Galway High School won the Section two Class C baseball championship in what their coach said was thought to be kind of a rebuilding year. So where to go? Golden Eagles. And yet, Joel, why all of this wind up and buildup, you might be asking. I feel like the concept of the rebuilding year is all but dead in two of the sports that the two of us hold particularly dear. Those sports being college football and basketball in those sports and others players are now allowed to transfer once without having to out a season. That’s the new NCAA rule. The rise of what’s effectively college sports free agency has changed those games in all kinds of ways.

Speaker 2: But for our purposes, let’s consider the Iowa State Basketball program in 2021. The Cyclones finished two and 22 and 2018 and Big 12 play. That would be a team that you’d think would need maybe a rebuilding decade, not just for the building year. But Coach T.J. outsold Berger, rebuilt the team through the transfer portal, brought in seven transfers, and that Nucor beat LSU in the NCAA tournament and they went all the way to the Sweet 16. And how about that LSU basketball program? They fired Will Wade for allegedly breaking all kinds of NCAA rules. And after that happened, every single player on the 2021, 2022 roster put his name in the transfer portal.

Speaker 2: While new coach Matt McMahon did convince three of them ultimately to stay, he brought in another group of players from his old team, Murray State, and he got some transfers, some incoming freshmen, and has actually cobbled together what looks like is going to be a competitive roster in the SCC. That’s obviously easier to turnover a relatively smaller basketball roster than a football one. But also look at what USC’s Lincoln Riley and OSHA’s Brian Kelly have done in the last few months. Bring in tons of new transfers in very short time frames.

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Speaker 2: And so that’s what brings me to my conclusion. All that at least on the high major programs, losing players to graduation. Losing them to the draft. It’s no longer going to be an acceptable excuse for a down year or, heaven forbid, a losing record, which is perhaps one of the many reasons why a lot of coaches don’t like the transfer portal. Those natural cycles of highs and lows of success and failure, of raping and sowing, really of excuses, even reasonable excuses, those excuses no longer exist. And so that other cliche, we don’t rebuild, we reload. That has now become an imperative. And that’s why I’m expecting a playoff berth from TCU every year from now until now, until the end of time. But do you, do you agree with my take that rebuilding. Yea, there’s no such thing anymore.

Speaker 1: I think it won’t be a thing if you want to get rid of your coach. Right. You’ve got to be like if you just like, yeah, you know, it’s no excuse. There’s no excuse. Brian Kelly You know, I know you lost a lot of players, but you know, you’re able to rebuild your team is not a big deal. So yeah, I agree in theory, but it’s always the coach that wants to buy himself more time will say that there’s a rebuilding year. And for fans that are dissatisfied with that coach, just like, what are you talking about? There’s no such thing as a rebuilding year. And to your point about TCU, I mean, I’ve just got so little faith rebuilding that. Yeah, I’m just whatever man we got. I mean, I don’t, I don’t, you know, I don’t want to get agitated talking about them, but, you know, rebuilding this is a rebuilding administration, put it that way.

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Speaker 2: But I mean, like think about Baylor basketball, for instance, like Scott Drew came in after that program, just got absolutely destroyed for good reason. And it’s just like a slow building process. And then after many, many years, they won a national title like this. T.J., it’s a bigger thing. It’s not like I mean, Iowa State had some good years under Fred Hoiberg. And actually we should mention Myron Medcalf, friend of the show, wrote a good piece about how Fred Hoiberg was like. That was the first actual transfer program that they like built themselves on transfers kind of starting a decade ago. But like the fact that he turned that team from two and 22 to the Sweet 16 in one year, like if, if we’re talking about like even a program as like decimated as Baylor was like now conceivably they could have won a national.

Speaker 1: Title the next season. No, sure. The thing is, though, I just think that all of that is going to be a little overblown because good players don’t tend to leave like that. You know what I mean? Like, I just don’t. I think you will be able to rebuild. You better pick a player from Murray State and get somebody from Kent State and bring in somebody from Colorado State. I’m just naming a bunch of states. But but at the end of the day, if like I mean, I think it’ll be a lot much ado about nothing at the end of the day, because the good schools are still going to be the good schools and they’re going to have good players already. And maybe you’ll be like Alabama, where they’ll poll Tennessee’s best linebacker, Henry Toto. I think I think that’s his name. You know, they just able to manage to get Trent Tennessee’s best player. Just to add on just a little sprinkling. I agree with your theory. In theory.

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Speaker 2: That’s all I can ask. Claudio, thank you. That is our show for today. Our producers, Kevin Bendis, fills in the pastures and subscribe or just reach out, go to Slate.com slash hang up and you can email us at Hang Up at Slate.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to the show and to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts for Joel Anderson. We were just thrilled to have back and Josh Levine remembers on the beat and thanks for listening.

Speaker 2: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members. And last week, the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, dominated the news, dominated all of our thoughts. I think, Joel, it’s fair to say, and it dominated discourse in sports the day that the shooting happened was a scheduled day for the Western Conference finals. And Steve Kerr came to the podium before a game between wears the Mavericks and did not want to talk about the game. Let’s listen.

Speaker 5: I’m not going to talk about basketball. Nothing’s happened with our team in the last 6 hours. We’re going to start the same way tonight. Any basketball questions don’t matter since we love shootaround. 14 children were killed 400 miles from here. And as a teacher. And in the last ten days, we’ve had elderly black people killed in a supermarket in Buffalo. We’ve had Asian churchgoers killed in Southern California. And now we have children murdered at school. When are we going to do something?

Speaker 2: Joel, we’ve heard Steve Kerr before comment on social issues and on politics. And so it’s not surprising that he said something, but the force that he spoke with and then later on in the press conference, he’d particularly put it on the Senate. The just kind of the level of outrage was what a lot of people were feeling. But I thought a bunch of people comment that people within sports seem to be speaking their minds, both kind of, but maybe being more outspoken than on on previous issues, but also being more outspoken than even people in politics.

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Speaker 1: Yeah. I mean, I think that I mean, in the way that Sandy Hook was supposed to have been a turning point in the discourse around gun rights and mass shootings, that maybe this might actually be that turning point. It does seem that there’s a lot more energy and anger in the wake of this, and understandably so. And it’s I mean, I did think it was interesting sort of that it happened.

Speaker 1: You know, Gabe Kapler, the San Francisco Giants manager, who said that he was going to not stand for the national anthem during games and changed course over the weekend from Memorial Day, but is planning to sit out because he doesn’t like the direction of the country. And I think that, you know, I don’t think it’s a surprise that the coaches who generated the most attention and publicity for their remarks about this are from the Bay Area, which is theoretically more progressive politically than many other places in this country. And so there’s a sense that the people out here would be able to take those remarks.

Speaker 1: I mean, you know that there’s some a feeling here that you’re like, what the hell is going on in Texas is crazy. I don’t think you if Steve Kerr was coaching the Dallas Mavericks, I don’t think I don’t think he would say that. But maybe I’m wrong because I know Gregg Popovich, maybe. I don’t know. I haven’t seen of Gregg Popovich or said anything yet. But he’s not playing right now. But maybe he might be the one guy in Texas that might be able to get away with that. But yeah, man, I just I think that people are. You know, they look at what happened and they see like just this failure in society. And like we right now, we’re just seeing a breakdown of all these institutions around us. And then for that to happen, it’s just like, man, we need to get our shit together. And I’m, I’m it’s good to see Steve Kerr and Gabe Kapler step up, but I also am like, where’s everybody else? Because you said that, you know, that more people are speaking out about this. But I to be honest, I’m kind of surprised. I haven’t seen more of it, right?

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Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, another thing that happened was the Yankees, like, spent a whole game with their social media account just tweeting like facts about guns and gun control, which on the one hand, it’s just like a great example of social media activism. Like, I’m not sure what the the upshot of that is, but it does say something that the in the organization it wasn’t just that they were tweeting about gun control. It was that they were doing it in lieu of doing whatever else they would do during the game and like pissing off a bunch of fans and, you know, drawing either because of that. And so it’s like, I’m not going to, you know, nominate them for the Nobel Peace Prize or anything. But it was an example of an organization putting itself behind this issue.

Speaker 2: And I guess, you know, there are two kind of categories of of thing happening here. There’s like an individual like Steve Kerr, maybe like Gabe Kapler speaking out for themselves, not necessarily on behalf of their organization, feeling like. A certain like responsibility or calling to do it, but also feeling like they can do it, like they’re not going to get fired. They can get away with it.

Speaker 2: The Yankees thing I think is interesting because it’s an example of the Yankees are a corporation. They’re not a it’s probably even to like narrow to call them a sports team. I mean, they’re like a huge billion dollar kind of conglomerate. And so there’s been all sorts of conversation about like how companies position themselves, like around the don’t say gay bill and all of that, all of these different issues.

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Speaker 2: But there must be a perception, Joel, that there’s safety for a corporation in speaking out about this issue, especially in a week when you know more children, even more than the you know, the number increased after Steve Kerr’s press conference, you know, up to 18 children being killed like that. There’s, you know, a belief among the people who operate the Yankees that they can say this, maybe they feel like they should say it, but also, again, that they can get away with saying it. And what I’ll be telling and I think we probably know the answer to this is like whether they feel comfortable tweeting about gun control in two weeks or in six months.

Speaker 1: Right. Yeah. I mean, I think because you’re probably thinking about this in the same way that I am that I remember, you know, in the the weeks and months after to George Floyd and all of these other, you know, brands, professional sports teams, even college coaches felt obligated to say something in the moment that that they that they had to let people know that this was unacceptable and that there needed to be a change, that people needed to listen to each other, and that needed to be some sort of like sensible politics to emerge in its wake. And that’s not what happened. If anything, there was a backlash. Right. So, yeah. Let’s see. Let’s see if there’s still that same energy for this around the midterms.

Speaker 1: Right. If they’re still willing to talk about it and put their put their money and their might behind it, then great. But we’re in the middle. You know, we’re about to go to a dark period of into in terms of media, especially for sports. And so I just, you know, I’m dubious they’ll still be talking about this if they’ll still be behind it. But it I don’t want to I don’t want to downplay the fact that they said something in the first place. But I’m skeptical that they’re going to keep it up over the long haul if they’re going to be in for a real fight.

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Speaker 2: Yeah. I mean, so there are two there are two factors working against kind of continued outspokenness. Factor number one is that everybody moves on. Even when something horrific happens, people move on to new horrific issues or other kind of banal workaday issues. And the second is, it’s way, way easier for anyone and everyone to express outrage about something that happened and way harder, especially if you’re trying to, like, triangulate and not make people mad at you and figure out a way to appear the way that you said sensible to actually propose anything.

Speaker 1: Right. Right. Yeah. I mean.

Speaker 2: That’s kind of like what that’s like. Mitch. Mitch McConnell approach. Right? It’s to say like, oh, yeah, well, we’re happy to talk about gun control. Like, of course we’re happy to talk about it. And then like any actual proposals like now we’re not we’re not happy to talk about this now. Not that, not that, not that, not that.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Let’s go back to 2019 in Texas, where there was a gunman that killed 23 people and injured 23 others at a Walmart in El Paso. And there was a lot of talk in Texas outside some energy like, oh, we’ve got to do something. But like what actually happened in terms of the laws that were passed? Absolutely did not address the problem that that you know that undergirded that that shooting which is that access to, you know, these these rifles and these weapons of war. If anything, it went in the opposite direction. So yeah, man, it’s like you said that you can say things all you want, but until you do things, you know, if people have the right to be skeptical of the sentiment behind them.

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Speaker 2: Steve Kerr has a huge platform now both and you know, the final start on Thursday. Yeah. In the lead up to the finals. During the finals, people will be listening to him. I don’t know if the you know, what do you call it, the inside the huddle thing during the game? I don’t know if he’s going to be talking about gun control then. Probably not. But like, there’s never kind of a a time for an NBA coach where people care more about what you have to say than in this kind of two week stretch. And he’s also built up a name and reputation preceding this where people want to hear what he has to say regardless.

Speaker 1: Right. But is it shocking? Like that’s the thing. Like, is anybody really going to take notice of Steve Kerr says it or if somebody like Mark Cuban or, you know, like it needs to be somebody people know where Steve. People can presumably know what Steve Kerr is going to say or something like this. It would be different if Tony La Russa was the guy that took up the mantle for Ford. Right. And so that’s the thing to look for. Like, is it going to. Is it going to grow to other people that you didn’t see coming?

Speaker 2: Thank you. Slate Plus, members will be back with more next week.