Scrutiny

Hi, I'm Wade Anderson. You may remember me from such gambits as Speedy Gonzalez, Bus Stop, and Tuesday's No Moss. In that last piece, I called out Randy Moss for being a distraction to the Vikings and suggested that the team should trade its superstar in exchange for greater team harmony, and a linebacker or two.

I subsequently was called out on the carpet for a couple of things. One, that trading Moss isn't a good solution to the problem. Salary cap implications would make the trade prohibitive, Moss is too talented to give up on, and walking off the field with two minutes to go just isn't that bad. Overreaction, says them. Fine, says me. It was just an idea, under the thinking that this team certainly doesn't look like it's getting better over the past few years, and maybe shaking things up might light a fire. Trading Moss might not be the best way to light said fire.

Secondly, I was back-handedly skewered for "piling on" Moss. He doesn't get a fair shake from the media because a) he doesn't regularly speak to the press, b) he's a bit of a sourpuss when he does, c) he doesn't use proper English when he does, and d) he's black. Because of these, any criticism is viewed as a combo platter of sour grapes and racism.

Which got me thinking... why are some people eligible for criticism, and why are some people protected from it? What is it about a person that gives them "protected status" against scrutiny? I took an informal survey of simpleprop content from the past...

You remember this guy. The soon-to-be all-time leader in homeruns, Barry Lamar Bonds. (And, yes, that's his real middle name.) As I referenced in my gambit, Barry and Randy have a good deal in common: petulant superstars that prefer to not talk to the media. In Barry's case, this has led to a seemingly unceasing effort to link Bonds' performance to illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Reporters seemed almost giddy last fall when reporting that Bonds admitted that he unknowingly took steroids-- even though the testimony in which he admitted this was supposed to be sealed. Ethics be damned, we got him.

Here Al, Monkey, and I take turns at calling out the media on their treatment of Bonds. Several prominent columnists wrote in that same spirit, and Jason Whitlock did too. (ba-dum.) The media was in a frenzy to "out" Bonds. Let's look how he scores in our handy-dandy Ronco Super-Bass-o-Matic criticism eligibility matrix:

Jerk? Yes. Talks to media? No. Race? Black.

Our judgment: Ineligible for criticism.

So... are *any* athletes eligible for criticism?

Oh yeah.

Charlie Hustle has been taken to task several times on this site, as recently as yesterday. Al and I each did feature articles on him last year, lambasting him for his swarthy attempts to steal the spotlight from Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley on hall-of-fame weekend. Neither of us held back our vitriol for Rose, which seems to be the going theme lately among folks in general. Why can we criticize him without it being viewed as piling on?

To the scorecards:

Jerk? Yes. Talks to media? Yes. Race? White.

Our judgment: Eligible for criticism

Seems inconclusive. How have other athletes fared?

Jerk? Yes. Talks to media? Sometimes. Race? Dominican.

Our judgment: Eligible for criticism

Jerk? Yes. Talks to media? Yes. Race? White.

Our judgment: Eligible for criticism

Jerk? Usually. Talks to media? Sometimes. Race? White.

Our judgment: Eligible for criticism

Jerk? No. Talks to media? Yes. Race? Black.

Our judgment: Ineligible for criticism

Hmm. Seems like the only common thread for criticism eligibility is the jerk factor. But Bonds and Moss are jerks... Maybe we need to go beyond the world of sports.

wadE took Oprah behind the woodshed (figuratively) in his first SP feature over three years ago. He's also made similar swipes in the forum.

Jerk? No. Talks to media? Too much, arguably. Race? Black.

Our judgment: Eligible for criticism

And how about this gentleman:

Anticipating the argument that the President and Randy Moss are apples and oranges... I'm not so sure. If you go back to two of the main reasons listed as why we should just leave Moss alone-- that he's cranky and doesn't speak well-- Dubya sure qualifies there. And if you look up "piled on by the media" in the dictionary, you're definitely gonna see George's smiling (or scowling) mug. I can't even start to list all of the times we've ripped him on this site. And at no point did anyone come to his defense, telling anyone to lay off because George doesn't speak English very well, or that he's getting ripped everywhere else.

So why are Randy and Barry sympathetic figures, at least here at simpleprop? It seems inconclusive. If Barry played for the Purple we could blame it on paint thinner, but that's not the case. Pete Rose seems to be the most comparable figure in the athletic arena-- why didn't (or wouldn't) anyone tell Al or me to back off when we ripped The Hit King?

If I were a betting man, I'd guess it has a lot to do with whether an athlete makes himself available to the media or not. There's a perception that if someone ignores the press, reporters then "have it out" for that person and either paints him in a less flattering light or, perhaps, makes things up to taint the public's perception. That certainly was Denny Green's opinion while he was in town. This could even explain the change in the public's attitude towards Pete Rose-- he enjoyed an enormous amount of public support until he released his autobiography last year. (Which, by the way, isn't worth your time. I was going to write a review but the thought of dredging up his "prose" instantly gave me irritable bowel syndrome.)

These are just my meanderings on the subject. Outlets more newsworthy than us even today are alternatively ripping Moss and saying he's treated too harshly.

Until then... if you celebrity geniuses who faithfully visit the site want the full and fair protection of the simpleprop nation, the answer is easy: ignore reporters! We'll do our best to make sure no one does you any harm.

-WA


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