The Confederate Flag and Racism

Recently I've seen several images of the confederate flag in town. Mainly on cars, but also on t-shirts. And I always wonder, are these people displaying that image racists?  If one were to actually ask that question, the answers would almost always be negative, unless you had the bad luck to happen upon a proud holder of KKK type beliefs.  Signs are given meaning by people, of course, so when a confederate flag waver invokes "Southern Heritage," who's to argue that? No doubt people who invoke heritage are proud of their roots. For many, reality doesn't seem to matter when it comes to abstract matters such as identity. There is a strong tendency to idealize.  And then there is the "it's all about freedom" set: hey it's a free country, I can wear any t shirt I want..."  True. It's also extremely offensive. The name pretty much sums it up: that flag started out representing the battle units of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. In case you forgot, that's the side that seceded in order to maintain their "states' rights," as in the right to enslave human beings of a certain color. And after they lost the war and were pulled back into the union, these same states made many and repeated efforts to assure the continued subjugation of the former slaves.  Not surprisingly, to many citizens, the confederate flag signals a racist, retrograde ideology, not freedom, not a care-free "rebel" attitude.

When presidential candidate Rick Perry was elected governor of Texas he invited rocker Ted Nugent to perform at his inaugural ball. Great choice. Ted came to the party wearing a shirt with a confederate flag on it. Perry had no problem with that.  Check out Ted's message to then Senator Obama during one of his concerts.


Bryce Harper's Implosion

It was a beautiful evening at City Island yesterday and time to get a first look at top prospect Bryce Harper. He had a rough night. In the second inning he reached on an error, then struck out in the fifth and again, looking, in the seventh on a full count. And he lost it, disputing the umpire's call violently, slamming his helmet down, and then really getting in Max Guyll's face. He was promptly ejected. Harper is batting .248 for the Senators. It looks like the kid has some growing up to do.  What I found most distubing was seeing an 18 year old acting out like this with a man more than twice his age. Not a pretty sight.
The game featured very impressive pitching from both Richmond starter Eric Surkamp (9 Ks) and Senator's starter Shairon Martis (10 Ks).  That's a lot of whiffing!


Replays and Contingency

Last week the baseball crowd was all agitated again about another blown call, this one putting an end to a very long, 19 inning game between Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Too bad, that could have been an endless game in the making. This was, according to the critics, yet another glaring example of why baseball needs more use of instant replay. In this case, it would have been evident that the umpire missed the call and it could have been reversed.  But wait, reverse to what? That's not easy in a game as complex as baseball. In this case the bad call is at the end of a play. Going back is not a simple thing. As Phil Mushnick pointed out, "There were men on second and third, one out. The batter, pitcher Scott Proctor, after grounding to third, fell on his face a few feet out of the box. Had Meals made the right call, the likelihood of a home-to-first double play was strong."  So is the inning over? But you can't give an out that was only likely to be made. Many different things could have happened.  Trying to determine on what kind of plays you should allow instant replay quickly becomes a messy proposition. We've got some contingency going on here and "instant replay" is not an idea that values contingency. Sometimes we just get it wrong. Our universe seems to be like that. Long ago, God made a bad call. It seems she had already decided there would be no instant replay. So she messed up, give her a break. I still think it's better than a rain out. My Aunt Jo taught me never to leave a game early, no matter how lopsided the score. You just never know... (I went with her a couple of times to Shea Stadium. A young Tom Seaver! Jerry Koosman! Ed Kranepool!)  Anyway, that's my thought for today: the game is not over and that's a very good thing. And another thing: contingency itself is contingent.