On the Orioles

A quantum of Oriole

This essay appears in the July 21, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated.  It appears on this site with the gracious permission of the magazine’s editors.   

To the beaten dog, every sudden movement is another impending brutality in a lifetime of such. Eventually, even the most modest and trivial move in the mutt’s direction induces a simpering cower.

Tell me on June 16 that Matt Wieters, after playing only 26 games, will cross into the valley of the shadow of Tommy John, and I am supposed to mark that date as the moment when the Baltimore Orioles of 2014 ceased to matter. Flay me with the knowledge that Chris Davis—he of the 53 jacks a year ago—will be hitting a buck-ninety-nine at the All-Star break, and I am supposed to lower my head to your rolled-up newspaper. Push my cold little nose into the mess that has come of Ubaldo Jimenez’s first Baltimore season on a four-year, $50 million contract—he’s 3–8 and now disabled—and I ought to accept the rain of blows that surely follows.

And yet, Steve Pearce.

Anything that can happen, will. And in an infinite universe, it will happen repeatedly. The full implications of the second law of thermodynamics apply to the American League East just as soundly as to a million monkeys at a million typewriters. Eventually, and regardless of all prior history, the Baltimore Orioles are going to type the complete works of Shakespeare.

How do we know this?

Well, for one thing, there is no God. There is only science. If there were a God, he would be—as evidenced by all of modern baseball history—a devoted fan of the Yankees. And God, at least the Judeo-Christian version of Him rather than the Aristotelian unmoved mover, is said to be good. Ergo, there is no God.

So, alone in this cold and expanding universe, we are left to consider the random motion of atoms, of protons and electrons and quarks, as these elemental essences dance and glance their way through the hollow space of, say, a Camden Yards, a Fenway, a Yankee Stadium. There is no romance to the matter, no theology, no purposed narrative even—if by narrative you mean a tale with a moral, with cause and effect, fate or redemption, hubris or vindication. No one is making a point here; the monkeys just keep typing.

Entering play on Thursday, the Orioles were 10 games over .500, three up on a Toronto team that was dominant a month ago and also three ahead of a battered, shield-down Yankees Death Star. The O’s run differential is +24—encouraging news indeed when you consider that the oh-why-the-hell-not O’s of two years ago, the ones who won 93, were only +7 as they stole every one-run and extra-inning game.

The current Orioles, sitting pretty atop the once-vaunted AL East, are actually more legitimate in some ways than the 2012 team that went to the playoffs for the first time since Clinton was president, Lewinsky was a name known but to him, and the world was still debating whether all electronics would cease to operate properly at the stroke of the millennium.

In other words, all I am saying is give Pearce a chance. We can win this.

Why? Because the Yankees’ rotation is shredded and their lineup ordinary, and because Tanaka couldn’t pitch every game and now may not be able to pitch at all. Because Toronto’s batting order—topped with speed and stacked with power—is now hollowed by injury, so much so that talk of trading only for a front-line starter now yields to talk of trading for some of everything. Because Boston is as flat as Shane Victorino on the trainer’s table, awaiting another epidural. And the Rays? Where did those guys go?

The electrons dance away from the great as well as the good. Overall, this is no comfort whatsoever; to accept probability theory is to acknowledge that eventually the United States and the Russians must engage in a nuclear exchange or that your goodly wife will eventually screw the mailman or the yoga instructor. But it also means the American League East can’t forever be the home of predominance.

All right, you say, maybe Baltimore can win the division. Maybe Jimenez gets off the DL and reels off a half-dozen wins. Maybe Davis finds his stroke. Maybe the monkeys can produce a Cymbeline or a Titus Andronicus.

But for Hamlet or Lear, you’re thinking I’m going to need more simians and more keyboards. In the AL Central, Detroit is running away and showing no holes. And the Athletics are throwing up gaudy numbers. Here you sit, Simon, hermetically sealed in your 12-foot-wide South Baltimore row house, nattering on about the Orioles’ run differential? Really? The A’s have scored 163 runs more than their opponents—better than a run and a half more in every game. That’s a statistic that doesn’t smell of probability theory but stinks of certitude.

To which, I reply by discarding stats entirely. To hell with Billy Beane. Chew instead on more quantum mechanics—the uncertainty principle of which clearly states that any effort to measure quantities is disturbed by the very act of observation. In other words Heisenberg has Bill James by the ass.

Remember: Anything that can happen in an infinite and expanding universe eventually will. And despite some long years wandering amid the deep-space weight of baseball dark matter, Baltimore has now crawled from its black hole.

I’m a scribbler by trade. And like all the other scribblers, I know it’s as tempting to assert for a narrative of tragedy as to exalt in glory. Either outcome is food and fuel for poets, who can throw meter at men in the thrush of righteous victory or, even easier, at those bravely facing inevitable doom. We want it all to Mean Something.

I have a close friend, an Emmy-nominated writer, who expends his finest verbiage sending out midseason pontifications on his beloved Cubbies—missives writ in the lofty stylings of a Mencken or a Perelman, speckled with almost as much literary and historical reference as North Sider profanity. Strung together, end on end, season after season, these emails are as comic and inflated a baseball jeremiad as ever committed to language.

Of course my friend, being a lifelong Cubs fan, would wish to remain paper-bag anonymous, but anonymity is for Mob witnesses. His name is Jim Yoshimura, and he is a romantic and a chump and is playing a mug’s game. The Cubs are merely the Orioles of tomorrow. The quarks are still in play for them as well, and all things, mathematically, must pass. Believe in the expanding universe, Jimmy. Believe as I do.

Except, well, there’s this:

In 2003, at the University of Plymouth in England, researchers experimented with a half-dozen Sulawesi crested macaques in a Devon zoo, and discovered there were more unexpected variables than mere simian typing. After a month the monkeys had produced only five pages of work, heavily invoking the letter s throughout. And the lead male eventually took to smashing his machine with a rock, after which the other monkeys urinated and defecated on the keyboard.

So if Chris Davis could start hitting the baseball, that’d be nice too.


  • Hope you are basking in the glow from this fabulous Orioles year so far. Saw that they have clinched their division. So Sweet and of course still nerve wracking because playoffs are to come. But thought of the O’s fans who commented on this post and you, David. The love is good. Enjoy every minute of it.

  • Within this thread I argued, well tried to in not a good way, trying the understand the legalities of why or how Ray Rice got off so lenient. I stupidly tried to parse the issue between a legal one and a moral one (the side which we all were in agreement). Well just waking up and seeing the full Rice footage, I would like to be the first to apologize for my insensitivity and just flat out being wrong. In the absent of all facts, there were a few open ended questions, again, legally, because after all he got off. My theory was why would a DA let a famous black athlete off especially when his then fiancé was arrested too and publicly apologized. After seeing the video, I believe she was not just a victim of his physical and overall abuse, but also from a system that protected him. Why was she arrested? Why did she publicly apologize? Why was she used as a pawn to lessen his punishment legally and professionally? I was wrong.

    • Gotta admit, Kevin, I just came back here to see if you’d changed your mind and I’m very glad to see that you have. I don’t think you need to apologize — you aren’t the one who committed violence, after all — but I appreciated you admitting you were wrong.

  • Mr. Simon, when you have a minute, check out this clip from last night’s O’s/Cardinals game. Some Oriole fan played a little prank on the Cardinals announcing crew. 🙂

  • I’ve noticed that you do not have much of a rooting interest in the Baltimore Ravens but maintain a deep love for the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, I think I once heard you refer to the Baltimore Ravens in an interview as nothing more than “something that’s on TV in the winter”. Why is that? Do you not like football? Are the Ravens too new of a franchise? Do you have commitment issues because of what happened with the Colts? I Imagine the Ravens are significantly more popular in Baltimore than the Orioles. Do you think there will ever come a time when you’ll wax poetic on Joe Flacco.

    • You did not see me produce any such quote in any such interview. Please cite such an interview. I am curious to see it.

      I enjoy football. I have season passes for The Ravens. I like baseball more.

      • I apologize if you received this message twice. I’m not sure if my reply went through. It was on a podcast with Richard Deitsch. The exchange occurred between 6:20 and 8 minutes into the podcast. You said. “I root for football because that’s what’s on in the winter”. I listened to the interview again and it seems like I misinterpreted the quote a little bit. The interview was during the referee lockout and you used that as a springboard to express your disgust with the NFL for using non-unionized replacement refs. I may have confused your contempt for the NFL with contempt for the ravens


        • Sounds about right. Baseball first, but yeah, I root for the Ravens and was a Redskin fan growing up.

          • ok. I’m glad we cleared that up. Anyway, best of luck to your Orioles. I’m an Expos fan and would like nothing more than to see Toronto choke down the stretch. Enjoy your summer

      • I apologize if this has already been answered on previous blogs etc., but I searched the internet and could not find an answer anywhere…What hat is Herc wearing in season 1 of The Wire??? As a lifelong O’s fan (grew up in Frederick) the best I can guess is a tribute to Brooks Robinson as he played 23 seasons…? However, I have never seen that style of cap. Perhaps it is something else (or even non-Oriole?) it has been driving me and my girlfriend Crazy! Thanks!!!

        • I just started rewatching The Wire in 2020, the year of pandemic-mania. The what got my attention. It is not an Orioles cap. Because of the black and orange color scheme, I thought it might be Baltimore City College. But that does not offer an answer for #23. Plus the character Herc is originally from the Bronx. I am beginning to warm up to the idea of it being a hat that is in honor of Brooks and his 23 seasons.

          • The Wire; finished my binge on the series about 3 weeks ago. I’m starting over again, so good especially when you don’t have to wait a week for the next episode. I hated when it ended.

  • David,

    I’ve noticed that you do not have much of a rooting interest in the Baltimore Ravens but maintain a deep love for the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, I think I once heard you refer to the Baltimore Ravens in an interview as nothing more than “something that’s on TV in the winter”. Why is that? Do you not like football? Are the Ravens too new of a franchise? Do you have commitment issues because of what happened with the Colts? Imagine the Ravens are significantly more popular in Baltimore than the Orioles. Do you think there will ever come a time when you’ll wax poetic on Joe Flacco.

  • Oops. Brain fart. The manager of United was, of course, Alex Ferguson. I conflated his name with another manager, Malcolm Allison, thus inventing Malcolm Ferguson. If you opt to publish the comment, and you have time, perhaps you can simply change his name to Alex. Otherwise, I’ve explained how I could make such an idiotic mistake.

  • Dear Mr. Simon,
    Thank you for this gorgeous piece of prose. While I don’t share your love for the Orioles (alas, I am a long-suffering fan of the hapless Mariners) I do understand the intensity of passion that one can feel for a team that you begin to feel is a part of you.

    My father was born in Manchester, England, which is not unlike Baltimore: working class, looked down upon by the people who live in the south of England for the way we speak, the belief that we are an uneducated lot. My father knew hunger during World War II: his father fought in North Africa, his mother worked full time at a factory building Spitfires. Even after the war, it would still be years before my grandfather would be able to liberate his family from the slums.

    One of the things that my father had, that he didn’t have to pay for, was his love for Manchester City Football Club. He and his two brothers loved the Blues, perhaps as a way of pissing off the old man, who loved Manchester United. My grandmother tried to keep the peace among them all. Her bright idea was to buy two football figurines–one in United’s red kit, the other in City’s blue. The two figurines were meant to represent that they were a two-team household, even though the rivalry between the two is legendary. The dolls soon became part of the drama. Shortly after they took their places on the mantel, United was drubbed in a match. According to my father, this meant that the United doll could not share in the pride of place facing the sitting room. Instead, he was turned toward the wall, shamed. This became the Saturday night tradition. If both teams won, both figurines could face the room. A loss meant that the losing team had to face the wall. In 1956, United was sitting at the top of the tables when they were defeated 0-4 by one of the worst teams in the league–Bristol. To mark this deep shame, my father covered United man in a black sock, to let his dad know that he knew how embarrassed my grandad must be. The dolls were finally broken one weekend when my father attempted to have the City doll stand on top of the United doll’s head. Both crashed to the floor.

    I was born into a City home, and like my father, I love that team. For years now, part of my Saturday tradition was to watch City play (they’re often on American t.v.) and then to call my father to discuss how the game had gone. They were tough years. United ruled the Premier League; its irascible coach, Malcolm Ferguson, referred to City as the noisy neighbors. That was, until four years ago, when new ownership invested in new players, and brought in a charismatic Italian coach. The first year of Mancini’s coaching, City beat United in the F.A. Cup. My father and his brothers wept. After years of struggling near the bottom of the table, suddenly City were champions. The following year, in the final game of the season, Manchester City pulled off a miraculous victory that snatched the Premier League title from United’s grip. We were ecstatic. We held our heads high. We wore our scarves, sang “Blue Moon,” celebrated being the best team in the toughest league in the world.

    In June of 2013, my father died of an infection (yes. a fucking infection in this age of antibiotics). Suddenly, my 71-year old father was gone. When the end of August came, I did not know whether I would be able to watch City. I thought it would be too painful. But my partner encouraged me to give it a go. I did. And a new tradition developed. Now each Saturday I call my mother, and she and I discuss the play. I had never known that my mother knew the game as well as my father and that her opinions about tactics could provoke her to swear like a dustman.

    In May of 2014, City once again won the Premier League title. I cried at the end of the game. I was happy, but it hurt to watch the glory knowing my father wasn’t there to see it. How he would have loved it.

    My wish for you is that long before you depart this world, the Orioles will pull their shit together and win a World Series.

    When the rest of the world is turning to shit, that championship will lift your spirits, allow you to hold your head up high when you tell people you are an Orioles fan.

    Thank you for letting me in to your fandom. And thanks for letting me talk about what my team means to me.

  • Tonight, Tuesday, July 29th, my granddaughter Dije Coxson will sing the Star Spangled Banner at Camden Yards. I believe the season hinges on winning tonight’s game. If they win, it’s because of her. I will take responsibility for a loss because I took her there. It’s that simple.

    She recently killed at Oregon Ridge on the 4th with the BSO conducted my new favorite actor, Damon Gupton in front of the largest crowd in the history of the event (15,000)

    I am late to this party with her story. After tonight, I will post her story in the Princess thread if it is still open. That’s the rightful place. It begins with her slamming Diamond Lewis’, daughter Ray, fingers in a door at daycare…..and it doesn’t end here.

  • The Orioles are in a great position, but they must do the unthinkable: They must get rid of Showalter and hire a successor who doesn’t look anything like a winning manager. Crazy? Not really. Just ask the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers. Or Showalter. He’ll understand. He knows he may be the best setup manager in MLB history, but he is no closer.
    In 1995, he took the Yankees to its first playoff series since 1981. Impressive, right? Not enough for the Boss. After he was fired, Joe Torre, who had just one division win in 15 years of managing, won four of the next five World Series with the Yankees.
    Showalter led the Diamondbacks from the cradle to the playoffs with 100 wins in 1999, but rookie manager Bob Brenley was the man on the top step of the dugout when Arizona won it all in 2001.
    And yes, Showalter dug the Rangers out of a deep hole in the early aughts, but it was another rookie manager, Ron Washington, who led them to two World Series appearances.

    • We gotta hold on to Buck if only for the sheer entertainment value of seeing how much emotion he can express with a single facial expression. That alone is balm to the weary O’s fan’s soul.

  • Mr Simon:

    I hope you don’t mind me taking advantage of you writing this sports article to pivot and ask you about another Baltimore sports issue. Recently there has been much made of Ravens player Ray Rice lenient punishment both legally and from the NFL from his apparent beating of his wife. I wont divert into the topic of domestic abuse. But as it pertains to his punishment, shouldn’t there be more of a devil’s advocate approach, per se, journalistically that clearly explains how he got off so light, no matter how emotional and knee jerking the issue may be. Would it be fair to characterize the situation as follows: the police saw all the footage the public didn’t see and based on what they saw, which was confirmed later by her public comments, Rice attacked her after she had attacked him to where in the eyes of the law he was technically acting in self defense. They couldn’t do much to him legally, but because of the PR nightmare, lets get him to agree to some kind of counseling and case over. NFL knew the details of the case and like in the legal proceedings could only do so little in terms of a punishment, not for the facts of the case but rather because of PR. Considering his minimum punishment, would it be fair to assume that’s how the events played out considering the facts we know? Thank you for your time

    • Legally — and I imagine this can vary from state to state — if there is evidence of what is known as “mutual combat” it becomes problematic to prosecute either party for assault unless it can clearly be established who hit who first, or unless a party ratchets up that mutual combat by employing a means or weapon that aggravates the common assault. All of that is true.

      On the other hand, Mr. Rice is a athlete in prime condition. And his wife is no match for him in mutual combat, and unless he was confronted by a credible and potentially injurious or lethal threat from her that required him to physically defend himself, the truth is his actions are, if not prosecutable, then scarcely excusable.

      Men do not hit women. Not unless in doing so, they credibly save themselves from real and significant danger. And a common assault by a woman upon a man is something that in almost all cases a man can walk away from without real injury. He didn’t walk away. He knocked his wife out.

      • Mr Simon:

        I greatly appreciate your words and explanation. I simply wrote that seeking for added context to be added. You wrote a piece recently about Putin. Its easy to have an us versus them, everything is black and white attitude about any and everything. It takes balls sometimes in the face of overwhelming opposition, be it with Putin and Ukraine, or Israel and Palestine or here in this case with Mr. Rice to simply not provide all the facts or give such facts the proper context.

        Everyone came down hard on Mr. Rice, so much so when someone this week dared to express the fact that men sometimes hit women after a woman has hit them, that by merely stating a fact, it is as if we want lenience for the abuser or advocating a thought that women provoke their abusers. It is worth noting that because why would authorities NOT run wild with a black rich famous football player and throw every charge possible at him? More importantly, why hasn’t any journalist with any credibility just put for the question: if Mr. Rice only got a slap on the risk–something akin to a few counseling sessions–is it because he didn’t do anything illegal? I pose these questions not in a moral sense, but strictly in a legal one. thank you once again

        • 1) He was indicted by a grand jury for felony assault, so that is, in fact, doing something illegal. The charge stands until he has completed pre-trial intervention.

          2) EVERYONE came down hard on him? He’s avoiding prosecution. He has the opportunity to get the charge dropped altogether — and he’s not getting that because his actions weren’t illegal, he’s getting that because he can afford great lawyers. He got a two game suspension — from a league that regularly suspends players for four games for smoking weed!

          Forgive me if my heart doesn’t bleed for him losing public sympathy (and possibly endorsements). It’s almost like if you knock a woman unconscious and drag her down a hallway, people don’t like you anymore.

          • KT:

            Whats the saying???…A grand jury can indict a ham sandwich? Him being indicted led to what? His charges in essence being dropped. Why? Maybe because video showed he was, under the law is structured, acting in self defense, thus nothing illegal.

            My letter to Mr Simon was seeking his point of view as to why Rice got off. Simply saying he is rich and has good lawyers isn’t good enough. Are we too afraid to acknowledge Rice did nothing illegal? After all, according to a florida jury, Zimmerman did nothing illegal. I am not making a moral argument. We all have the right to hate Rice as much as we want. Was strictly posing a question from a legal standpoint. Mr. Simon’s response indicated that it is legally possible that Rice avoided prosecution because depending on what we, the public, hasn’t seen, he could have been acting in self defense.

            • I didn’t go that far, actually. If Mr. Rice had a legitimate claim of self-defense, he didn’t make it. Instead, he accepted a pretrial agreement that was in effect probation-before-judgment. On a very basic level, agreeing to such — even though you avoid a conviction — is an admission of culpability, and it is quite common in American courts as a means of allowing first-time offenders to avoid criminal conviction if they can successfully negotiate court-ordered sanctions and probationary requirements.

              I’ll say it more bluntly, if I can: There is no suggestion that his wife was offering any actual physical threat to Mr. Rice, even if there was some element of mutual combat. And. He. Knocked. Her. Out. There may be some modest mitigation in the sense that he was struck first, or in the fact that she might be reluctant to testify against her husband, or in the fact that a court is looking at this as a first-offense. But saying so is a long way from me absolving Mr. Rice. A grown man, he hit a woman so hard that she lost consciousness. If it were me, and it wouldn’t be, I wouldn’t want to take that salient fact before a judge and jury either.

              • Mr Simon:

                Apologies for misrepresenting your words. Again, I am not making a moral argument. Hitting a woman shouldn’t be tolerated……but here sadly, in the case of Mr. Rice, it was. You said you wouldn’t want to take the fact that he knocked his wife unconscious before a judge or jury. But why should that be the option of any one but a prosecutor? If a man knocks his wife out on camera, shouldn’t that be a slam dunk conviction? We could say first time offense this, wife doesn’t want to pursue charges that, but is it simply worth ask–just asking–could there be something on the video tape that only the prosecutor has seen that under the law could be interpreted as self defense. Also, by Mr Rice accepting pre-trial counseling says nothing. He is a businessman with handlers who just like the NFL and the prosecutor are playing the PR game.

                Look at the NFL today and their attempt to answer questions about this issue. We obviously don’t know all the facts but it seems to me, based on what the NFL’s representative said and how he tried to dance around this issue, it is conceivable that the NFL and the legal authorities are in agreement that the law is more so on Mr Rice’s side, they each were forced to go light on him in terms of punishment, and being honest about why would create more PR problems than currently there are.

                My attempts, once again, were and are to understand better how despite our national uproar towards this situation, what are the mechanics of the legal system starting with our laws that would allow him, Mr. Rice, to walk away charge free if he is on camera committing a heinous act. Thank you once again

                • Kevin, there’s no way we can try this case on the blog. We don’t know how cooperative or forthcoming a witness the victim would be in this instance, as is often the case with domestic violence. We don’t know how much her testimony would mitigate on behalf of Mr. Rice; only the prosecutors know the interior of a case that never came to trial.

                  What we do know is that Mr. Rice accepted the equivalent of probation-before-judgment, complete with probationary and therapeutic requirements. In the end, prosecutors may have concluded that this outcome is close to what might be sought on a first-time offense for domestic assault after close consultation with the victim. Strategically, they may feel as if they accomplished their purpose in creating a measured intervention in the domestic relationship and ensuring that Mr. Rice has every opportunity to change his behavior — and every incentive given that a violation of a probationary period could lead to greater penalty. The probation-before-judgment logic of the plea agreement might make the best sense for the situation.

                  But that is the courtroom. The controversy comes, I think, in the NFL’s relatively mild reaction to the behavior, which can be untethered from the legalisms. Mr. Rice really did knock a woman unconscious, and to my understanding, nowhere in the plea agreement is it alleged that he was at any risk of serious or lethal injury from his wife. Knowing that much, it is arguable that the NFL could — depending on the language in the collective-bargaining agreement — call that for what it is and punish one of their players for behavior that brings dishonor and reflects poorly on the league. In the same manner that a civil verdict can be obtained against a defendant on lesser legal terms than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” so too, could the NFL act on less constrictive legal standard.

                  • Mr Simon:

                    Trying this case on a great blog such as yours or anywhere but a courtroom would be a waste of time, because in essence as we are faced with here, we the public don’t have all the information the prosecutor or the NFl has. Because we don’t have all the information, I was simply asking–once again–just asking if it was possible that the scenario I laid out could be possible. Not advocating that possible scenario or trying to absolve Mr Rice from any punishment. But I hope you and I could agree on this point: that a husband and Im sure an endorser of corporations with millions at stake in Mr Rice, a prosecutor who potentially couldn’t secure not just a prosecution but a charge that could stick and the NFL all could have reasons for not having all the information or at least all video surveillance out in the public sphere. No?

                    • Anything is possible.

                      But if it were me and I was accused of assaulting a woman and there was sufficient mitigating evidence to show that I was somehow justified in knocking her unconscious — i.e. I was defending myself not merely against mutual combat or a minor assault, but against serious and actual injury — I would sure as hell not accept probation before judgment. I’d stand for trial, if only to air such extraordinary evidence and preserve my honor.

                      But yeah, anything is possible in an infinite and expanding universe.

                  • Mr Simon:

                    What incentive would Mr Rice have if he were innocent to take it to trial to defend his (dis)honor when he could save time, legal fees and more importantly prevent his dirty laundry from being aired in public, especially when a not guilty is the same essentially as whatever course they have him on now?

                    As far as anything is possible, sure, I guess I can agree. But Mr. Rice’s wife said publicly at a press conference at the Ravens facility that she–her words–played a role in what happened. Take that, plus the light treatment from the prosecutor and then the just as light treatment from the NFL, wonder could only wonder what was on the tape the public didn’t see.

                    But I have learned a lot here from this correspondence and could concede that how you have laid out things could be, it could well in fact be much closer to that than to my theory. Thank you.

                    • You take a plea, even as probation-before-judgment and it is a plea.

                      I was once PBJ’d. I definitely did the thing. And had I not done the community service and completed the terms of my probation, I would have had a conviction and a more serious penalty. This was not an acknowledgment of innocence, Kevin. It was a plea bargain. It might have been the correct outcome, for the state, for Mr. Rice and his wife and their marriage. I can’t know. But it was a plea bargain for a first-time offender.

                      The incentive for Mr. Rice to go to trial if he was genuinely threatened by serious or lethal injury and was only BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF WOMAN in self-defense is this: He would, if successful in proving such a truth, NOT BE A PUBLIC WIFE-BEATER, which is what he is now. For me, anyway, that’s all the incentive I would need if I had acted in legitimate self-defense and could prove it. Also, and more practically, if he were found innocent, rather than PBJ’d, the NFL could not likely take any action against him. Not a two-game suspension. Not six games. Not a season. And it is unclear to me that Mr. Rice could have known in advance that the NFL would be so notably soft in its reaction. From Mr. Rice’s point of view, an acquittal would be quite significant, if indeed, he had evidence that his actions were justified.

                      I think this is getting really, really obtuse. To bring it back around: How ’bout dem O’s?

                    • “But Mr. Rice’s wife said publicly at a press conference at the Ravens facility that she–her words–played a role in what happened.”

                      Sadly, it’s called Battered Wife *Syndrome* for a reason: it happens all the time. (And usually, not even in situations where the publicity machine of a huge multi-billion dollar organization is breathing down your neck.)

                      Look, I liked Ray Rice. Even despite my staunch feminism, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I can’t stretch logic enough to buy that there is any explanation for that videotape other than the obvious. Occam’s Razor and all that.

                • It’s not a slam-dunk conviction. A wife can’t be compelled to testify and no matter what they have on tape, prosecutors cannot prove what took place before or after the recording. If video evidence were all you needed, R. Kelly and the cops that beat Rodney King would have gone to jail.

                  Mr. Simon’s responsible enough not to speculate, but I will: if you truly attacked someone in self-defense, why would you then drag their prone body down the hall with you? If you were truly in fear of them, wouldn’t you just try to get OUT of their proximity as soon as possible?

                  As for the NFL, the continuing career of Ben Roethlisberger should have proven to all of us long ago that they do not give a shit about women.

                  • Mr. Simon:

                    I beg to differ with this being obtuse, but we can agree to disagree. But concerning this matter, i’ll make this my last response on this matter.

                    Facts as see them: There was an incident. Purposely or not, only video of Mr. Rice dragging his unconscious then finance out an elevator leaks. Mr. Rice pleads to PBJ. Mrs. Rice publicly acknowledges playing a role in whatever altercation that took place.

                    Because there is so much that we the public doesn’t know, I attempted to string together those facts in what I think could be a possible and quite frankly logical way. You feel the prosecutor offering PBJ out of the kindness of heart is possible. I don’t think any prosecutor in America with a chance to make an example out of someone black, young, rich, famous and an athlete would ever go light on him UNLESS the facts of the case prevented him to do so. Keeping in mind we don’t know happened in the elevator, Mrs. Rice publically stating she (im inferring here) started a fight, could it be possible the tape showed a set of circumstances that made it very hard to prosecute Mr Rice.

                    If he was innocent, however likely or unlikely, is irrelevant. Mr. Rice is a public figure. He makes millions of dollars off his Q rating, how popular or well liked he is. Being that we agreed that anything is possible, is It possible that as a celebrity with millions of dollars on the line, could he have been advised to take whatever plea deal was offered as long as it didn’t involve jail time or direct admission of guilt? Even if the tape showed his finance hit him 20 times and he was well within his right to deliver one powerful strike, why would he a)do that to his wife or b)allow the public to see to bring down further his image in a no win situation?

                    I am sorry we are many words deep in a what if game. But with millions of dollars on the line and facts of the case being withheld for the benefit of all parties–prosecutor, Rice and the NFL–benefit, I think this what if exercise was worth it. I don’t want my efforts here to be confused with me somehow trying to explain away the actions of mr. Rice. Knocking out a woman is 10 miles beyond excused and its disgusting. But ill drop it here. Thank you as always. Once again, ive learned a lot and im gracious for your time and perspective.

                    • Anything can happen in an infinite and expanding universe. You are right about that.

                      We must disagree on the mendacity of all prosecutors when confronted with black defendants or even rich and famous black defendants. I’ve known a lot of prosecutors — some, yes, were venal and some were indifferent hardasses, but otherwise inattentive to issues of race; but many were thoroughly professional. And those that chose to specifically work domestic violence cases and had expertise in such casework, in particular, were often very careful about measuring the chance at reconciliation and rehabilitation with the risk to a battered spouse being again victimized by violence. The considerations of the stances and wishes of both victim and victimizer, and the prospect of the marriage, were all factors in deciding how to proceed — whether incarceration was necessary, or whether counseling and a carefully monitored term of probation was appropriate. No two cases were ever entirely the same, and the risks of being too lenient or too stern to families, marriages and even the couple’s children are apparent. I don’t know what the prosecutors saw on the tape, or what they know of what happened between these two people. I don’t know all of what they did or did not consider in taking the plea they did. I only know that Mr. Rice knocked out a woman who was scarcely the physical specimen that he is, and who was in no way armed with any weapon that could cause him serious injury. That’s an escalation even in mutual combat that I find notable. Mr. Rice elected to take a plea so we will remain ignorant of all of the facts save for the severity of the assault, which is not in dispute. On the basis of the severity of the assault — and the absence of evidence that the use of such force was necessary for Mr. Rice to save himself from serious injury — I would be inclined, if I were the NFL, to a more severe penalty.

                      The same dynamic is in play in the Zimmerman-Martin matter. No one actually knows what transpired in the initial confrontation; who struck whom first, and whether Mr. Zimmerman’s claims of fearing for life and limb are legitimate. We only know that Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries were not suggestive of such a claim but rather of a common or minor assault and/or mutual combat. And we only know that one man brought a gun to the encounter, and one man used that gun to take the life of an unarmed teenager. Mr. Zimmerman should have been convicted of manslaughter in any state in which a jury could be instructed without the burden of Florida’s legislative gun-lust. He would certainly have been convicted in, say, Maryland, I believe.

                      Here too we know that one party — and not the other — used significant force to batter the other, and that there is no offered evidence that such force was necessary. There is only a plea. As the evidence and testimony are not known to us, as they were in the Florida case, we can’t go much beyond this basic reality. But that reality is enough, in my opinion, to suspend Mr. Rice more than two football games.

      • I think the fact that he knocked her out is the key point here. That was a potentially lethal assault when the assault on him was not. People die from head injuries all the time. And even in the cases where a person isn’t knocked out, it has been shown that a single concussion can cause permanent brain damage and loss of intelligence.

        • A key fact you all are ignoring is that ray rice’s fiancé was arrested for what happened that night too. If police felt compelled to doso then is it fair to ask like the gentleman up above seems to trying to do so what legal framework is there that would a man who knocks his wife out to be able to for all intents and purposes walk away without any real consequences.

          • He took a plea. It was a PBJ-type plea that avoids conviction if he abides by all of the court’s conditions, but it is a plea nonetheless. If prosecutors thought they had a stronger case, perhaps they would not have agreed to accept such a plea. Or maybe they would have sought such an outcome as best for Rice, the victim, and their relationship, and for society as a whole, given their sense of Mr. Rice’s commitment to getting help and avoiding a similar event.

            We can’t know their whys and wherefores.

            What we can know is that no evidence was presented to suggest that Mr. Rice was under any real physical threat from the woman he knocked unconscious. And again, that is enough not for people to question the legal outcome, but to wonder at the penalty imposed by the NFL. There is a sanction against men hitting women in general, and knocking them unconscious in particular, that has moral gravitas even if the woman has struck a man first or engaged in mutual combat. Unless, of course, the woman, by her size or by her arming herself with a weapon, does indeed present the threat of significant injury. There is no indication in this case of such.

          • I’m just not getting the logic of assuming that because someone got away with something, they must not have done anything wrong.

            I don’t mean to blow minds with this newsflash, but rich, powerful people get away with egregious crimes every single day. The NFL has been wrong before — as it was when it reduced Roethlisberger’s personal conduct penalty.

            This is an organization that has very few female owners, very few high-level female employees — very few female employees in general — no female coaches and obviously, no female players. Recent releases of NFL cheerleader contracts revealed the most sexist documents since 1950s-era gender-segregated dormitory rules. Why are we supposed to assume that this is an egalitarian organization that respects women and has their best interests at heart (so, therefore, MUST know something we don’t about this)? There is no evidence of that as far as I can tell.

            • Mr Simon:

              I apologize, I know I said wouldn’t respond further, but I felt compelled after hearing that an ESPN commentator was just suspended after he, during a discussion about the Ray Rice situation where he repeatedly stated violence against women was never acceptable under any circumstance, stated that women sometimes (key word sometimes) provoke men to attack them. Are we currently in a climate where stating facts can get someone fired? Is it not a fact that men, again SOMETIMES and not in every case of domestic violence, responds with violence after their wife or girlfriend initiates it? If that is not the case, then does that mean that Ray Rice, who has never hit a woman before that night and hasn’t since, was going to hit his then fiancé that night NO MATTER WHAT?!?!?

              The reason I initially posed a question here in this forum because you are gracious enough to consider and extremely generous with your time and knowledge to answer a legit question, even if it seems as if the question is attempting to defend the devil. And defending the devil is important. In this corporate world, anyone anytime can have their words mis-represented (remember that Reliable Sources guy?). Yesterday’s David Simon could be today’s Ray Rice (strictly speaking in terms of a huge tide from a gang of people refusing to give one’s statements or a set of facts in it’s totality, unfiltered…but still maybe that was a bad comparative example).

              Posing questions that aren’t being asked isn’t absolving Rice of his actions, but isn’t it a moral crime that those questions aren’t being asked, considered so many facts are missing and a key fact–the now Mrs. Rice being arrested the night of the incident–isn’t being put forth? Are we in a climate where we appease our followers and sponsors and are afraid to go deeper? (note: with many typos and not as clear as I should have been, my initial purpose wasn’t to search for Rice’s innocence but rather the legal pathway that was used to help get him off with minimum, if any, punishment).


              • I don’t know whether Mr. Rice was involved in domestic violence before or after the evening in question. I don’t know anything about his history with domestic violence other than that on this occasion he took a PBJ-type plea for an assault in which he knocked a woman out.

                I will say that while human beings do and say a lot of things to anger each other, the only circumstance in which a man has good cause to. knock. a. woman. unconscious. is if said woman is a serious threat to his life or limb. Not if she pisses him off. Not if she just won’t listen. Not if she slaps him. Not even if she hits him first. Present some evidence that said woman posed an actual and serious threat to the man, or to others, requiring him to strike her so hard as to render her unconscious to protect himself and others and I will be sanguine about that man not requiring a legal intervention or a seat on the bench during some football games. Short of that evidence, my position on this is pretty unyielding no matter how many sportscasters get suspended for saying otherwise. Whether Mr. Smith said anything inappropriate enough to warrant the suspension, or whether he was at a point misrepresented, I can’t say without reviewing all of his commentary — and I confess I can’t bring myself to care with all else that is going on in the world. If he didn’t say that she deserved to be hit, or needed to be hit with such force as Mr. Rice delivered, then maybe he had a point. If he said that much, then no, David Simon can’t be tomorrow’s Steve Smith. I certainly can’t be tomorrow’s Ray Rice.

                I’ve got plenty of problems, believe you, me. But I don’t hit women and I’m never tempted to suggest that any woman who doesn’t pose a serious physical threat ever deserves to be hit or is entitled to be struck for any reason whatsoever. I don’t know how many more ways I can say this, Kevin.

                • Recently, you came to this blog to, rightfully so, put forth a set of facts and a timeline that showed and explained how Duke was about to publish lies about you, after you corrected them and offered proof. You did so before that with the Howard Kurtz slander job he attempted on you. You have shown and proved that a full display of facts and context is of vital importance.

                  If we are so right about Ray Rice–and I say we because you and I are in agreement–then why the widespread hesitancy in displaying full total facts? Ok, I get it clearly. He. Knocked. Her. Unconscious. But having full disclosure of facts is the difference between forever branding someone a monster versus, through facts, coming to a reasonable conclusion that in a one time incident he acted monstrous. The difference is huge and it can lend to the possibility, which you made me aware of through this discourse, of a man being capable of rehab and coming out greater on the other end.

                  It is the same thing with Mr. Smith. He clearly stated over and over that under no circumstance should men hit women. He ventured off, where he spoke of how could domestic violence be prevented. He said in some cases (again SOME not all) men hit second after the woman hit first. How can that not, as a generic statement, be considered a fact? But regardless of that, you have many people and op eds and those needing click thrus who are misrepresenting his words. Whether Mr Smith is likeable or not, doesn’t he, like you, and many more before you, deserve to have their comments presented in full with all relevant facts and context included if someone ventures to attack you?

                  But i’ll once again try and end it here. For the record again, I wasn’t in search of Mr. Rice innocence or defending his actions. Call it a Ralph Nader moment I suppose. But in whatever errors I’ve commit, I am at least erring towards the side of full disclosure, where all facts are known and presented and an understanding of the process–in this case a process of how Mr Rice got off–could be understood. I thank you tremendously.

                  • When someone takes a plea, a conscientious prosecutor limits himself to a statement of facts that is made to the court. By accepting that basic statement of facts, the defendant is exempted from any additional disclosure of the casefile. The defendant can choose to speak beyond the statement of facts, but the choice is his, unilaterally.

                    A prosecutor who would provide more detail than the statement of facts agreed upon as presentation of the plea would be behaving in an unethical manner. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but it violates the plea in the sense that often a defendant is willing to accept a plea and sentencing based on the fact, among others, that all the details of the incident will not receive a public airing. Indeed, one of the routine benefits of accepting a PBJ-type plea is that if the defendant completes his term of probation and all the terms of his sentencing, his record is expunged and the casefile sealed.

                    Don’t know if that is what is going on here, but it would not be uncommon.

                  • ” He said in some cases (again SOME not all) men hit second after the woman hit first. How can that not, as a generic statement, be considered a fact”
                    Because it is irrelevant. What does it matter if the woman hits first? Why do you keep bringing that up? That mentality is very offensive. You are basically saying that in “SOME cases (not all)” the woman DESERVES to be hit just because she hit first. Is that what you are saying? It does not matter one fucking bit if a woman hit first. What Smith said is along the same mentality that women who wear mini skirts should expect to be raped? This barbaric blaming the victim thinking is so fucking ridiculous. That is why the outrage at Smith is justified. As for the uproar at the NFL, they clearly have their moral priorities fucked. I wonder how many games Rice would have been suspended if he was smoking a blunt while beating the shit out of his wife?

                    • Mr. Simon:

                      I know you would prefer to shift the discussion to your beloved O’s, but Mr. Seamus comments deserve a response.

                      One of the reasons Mr. Simon is held in such high acclaimed by so many is that, in my opinion (which could be wrong), a key element of your work is holding up a mirror and showing the good the bad the ugly. For example, season four of the Wire involved a scene where the guy who wanted to do a special program in schools was challenged by Bunny Colvin that high school aged kids were too hardened to deal with. In the process of proving his point, and im paraphrasing here, the jailed kid when asked what he would do if his sister was beat up, well he gave a response that could be considered out the mainstream.

                      And that’s the point of the show and of great art. No one says “hey Mr. Simon, you were the creator of the show, why did you include such language or nudity or violence or why did you give voice to such pathologies that could be considered beyond the pale”. He is telling a story, and in doing so all facts and points of views matter no matter how ugly or comfortable. I HOPE we can all agree on that, please?!?! Pretty please with sugar on top?!?!?

                      Is in that spirit for which I ventured to ask Mr. Simon about this uncomfortable situation. My initial question was posed strictly seeking more information as to the possible LEGAL (not MORAL) pathway that allowed for his getting off. I am thankful for the information that Mr. Simon provided, which allowed me to realized that, yeah, a prosecutor could have determined that counseling was best and give Mr Rice the benefit of the doubt. But because we don’t know everything, could it be possible a prosecutor didn’t have a charge that could stick and was forced to get whatever he could in a plea deal with no teeth.

                      Bun in the current politically correct climate we live in, we cant simply pose questions? Provide all facts? Or hell, have mutually agreed upon facts? Why is that?

                      To answer Seamus directly, no one, especially me, has said that women deserve their abuse. As I stated above, context matter. Sorry to say this but all domestic violence is not created equal. There is a huge difference between a serial abuser and someone who made a one time mistake. If you don’t believe me, why do courts punish first time offenders versus serial offenders. Is it not worth noting that a guy, according to his wife, never him before, hasn’t hit him since, and only hit her and she hit him? is his redemption from monster to a true man not as worthy as her protection and her healing?

                      But it is what it is, we can defend the devil. We put forth all set of facts. We cant even agree to what is even a fact without it, as according to Seamus, being dismissed as irrelevant. Yeah, whatever.

                    • I think the thing that I find most interesting about this discussion is trying to figure out what is at stake for Kevin in all of this.

                      He appears to be looking for a reason that would have made it okay for Mr. Rice to knock his fiancee out. It feels as if he wants to hold on to some antiquated notion about controlling one’s woman, which is still at play as we still live in a culture where rape and domestic violence are two ways that women are kept in line.

                      Kevin, may I respectfully suggest that you do some reading? Please look at the statistics about rates of domestic violence and rape. Do you know that a woman is more likely to be killed by her husband than anyone else?

                      You seem to think that a two-game suspension is some great penalty that Mr. Rice has been forced to pay for knocking another human being unconscious. A lot of us are wondering when the NFL, the NCAA, and high school football are going to catch up with the idea that it is not okay to be violent toward women. People have made more noise about Michael Sam’s joining the NFL, with coaches and other people going so far as to say that Mr. Sam will be the ruin of the game and shouldn’t be allowed to play because he dares to love men. But in all of the years that I have been watching football, I have never seen a football player banned from the league for being a danger to others outside the football field.

                      For example, in last week’s New York Times, there was a horrific story about a young woman at Hobart College who was gang-raped by the football team. The college adjudicated the whole matter, and decided that it was more important that it allow its football players to continue playing than to punish them for their vile treatment of another human being.

                      When are athletes finally going to start paying the full price for violence against women? Or do we continue to give them passes because they can catch a football?

                      Kevin. You seem determined to get Mr. Simon to say that Mr. Rice was railroaded. It’s hard to argue that when we have the videotape of him carrying his unconscious fiancee into the building.

                      Perhaps when women start mattering more to the American public than football, women will know that we have reached full equality. Right now, we’re not even close.

                      Oh, and one more thing. If you do some research on domestic violence you will see that it is part of the cycle that a lot of women, afraid of getting the man they “love” into trouble that is going to send him to prison, will change the story so that they accept that they somehow deserved what happened to them. Just as rape victims are frequently told that they deserved to get raped because they drank too much or wore too short a skirt, so too are women assumed to have done something to provoke a man to rage so that he hits her.

                      I don’t know if you have sisters or a mother or daughters or a wife, Kevin, but if you want to be part of the solution so that women feel more safe in this culture, stop trying to find a loophole for Mr. Rice and start researching the facts about domestic violence and rape in this culture.

                      And you might even dare to think, for just a moment, what it is like to be a woman. One of the things that makes Mr. Simon such an outstanding writer is that he has the capability of being able to put himself in the shoes of people other than himself, and in so doing, acquire empathy for the people we throw away in this culture. I am wondering how you can be such a fan of Mr. Simon’s writing, and yet you don’t seem able to imagine being something other than a male who wants to let his sports hero off the hook for being a bully.

                    • I didn’t feel my previously submitted response to Seamus was sufficient enough so please allow me to go further and I’ll drop this matter once and for all.

                      Say we have a video of a guy committing a murder, but because of some technicality he got off–say he wasn’t read his Miranda rights. Do you believe because of such, he should have gotten off? Myself, as an American, I say yes.

                      I believe in a process. In the case of a murder, you arrest a guy, you read him his rights, he is given an attorney, he has a bail hearing, so on and so forth all the way through a trial and if found guilty more of a continued process after that. Nothing governs the court of public opinion, but from my perspective, even in this inexcusable situation, Ray Rice deserves a process.

                      In the public tsunami of indignation expressed towards Mr. Rice’s actions, it seems as if most, if not everyone, is seizing on one fact and closing all discussion on the matter. He. Knocked. Her. Unconscious. But if we are to render him guilty and demonize him for the rest of his life, why so afraid of a full disclosure of facts? He will be just as guilty after all facts are made public, as he is now, with so much still unknown.

                      Advocating for such a process is not excusing his behavior or victim blaming. As I pointed out in previous responses on this matter, yesterday’s David Simon (Mr. Simon is ashamed to be an American, end of discussion) could be today’s Ray Rice (He. Knocked. Her. OUT….end of discussion).

                      As an African American male, I am extremely sensitive to this. There is a reason we aren’t government by moral principles, although we may be influenced by them. Every person has their own moral code and standard, but even more so than that, every person doesn’t consistency or fairly apply their own set of moral beliefs. This may be a silly example but it’s one nonetheless. Jack Osbourne went on a twitter rant once because Chris Brown, infamous for beating Rihanna, was winning a grammy. Ironically, he doesn’t speak publicly that his father, Ozzy, beat his wife, Jack’s mother, Sharon, nor on the way to hundreds of millions of dollars and the beloved status in the hearts of millions is he constantly reminded that he beat his wife.

                      In many instances, what saves America is a process that can be consistently applied no matter the circumstance. And in this case, with the absence of so many facts, after understanding how Mr Rice got off, I withheld judgment, at least until his public comments today. He said it’s an isolated incident, he refused to detail what happened in full that, but he accepts and acknowledged he has a problem, took full responsibility and absolved his wife of any. Based on that, I can take him at his word that he is continuing therapy and absent of another incident I can judge the man for his full character, which in part, includes this incident.

                      Whether or not this is a sufficient ending to this situation, who knows. But I seriously doubt going forward, that when the next public outcry of an issue happens, we can pause for a second regardless of our personal feelings or beliefs, and afford that situation a fair process.

                    • Kevin, you are clearly never going to give this up so you may as well stop saying that.

                      I can’t believe I have to be this simplistic about it: it does not matter if Ray Rice’s wife hit him first. Based upon the differences in skeletal and muscular structure, women’s arms and shoulders are, on average, not nearly as strong as men’s. Most women cannot throw a punch as strong as a man can. I say this as a feminist who does not believe in biological determinism: anyone with a lick of common sense must know and accept that an average woman’s punch is not equal to an average man’s punch. There is no tit for tat. The only excuse a man has for hitting a woman in self-defense, as a response to her hitting him, is if he happens to be much physically weaker than her or if she has a weapon.

                      That is obviously not the case here. If we were talking Ronda Rousey hitting Danny DeVito, you might have a point, but as it stands, you do not. Janay Rice is a very petite woman with no greater than average strength for someone of her size. Ray Rice is an NFL PLAYER.

                      Unless “the facts we don’t know” involve Janay’s body being taken over by superstrong aliens that caused her to fly into the air and shoot death rays from her eyes into Ray Rice’s skull, then no, “the facts we don’t know” don’t change a goddamn thing.

                      And flattery of Mr. Simon’s work (despite the fact that you apparently don’t understand the message at all) is not going to get him to agree with you no matter how many times you say the same thing over and over again. Let it go.

                    • KT and Lorraine, let me see if I can clear my name. Wish me luck….

                      I came to this blog asking Mr. Simon about the legal process that may allow Mr. Rice to get off. I clearly emphasized LEGAL not MORAL. Mr Simon was gracious enough to educate me and I clearly thanked him and accepted as a potential possibility that the prosecutor in this case (and in his experiences many prosecutors in general) could feel it is best, considering the facts only they know, that for a first time offender, counseling and similar measures would be best and that he deserves to the benefit of the doubt to save himself, his marriage and his family.

                      As a black man, hell one who has never drunk, smoke, drugs of any kind and damn sure has never been arrested, I nonetheless have close up experiences with prosecutors NE-VER have I seen one go light or give any black man, or for that matter (though I can only use examples through the media cause I don’t know any) a famous man or athlete any leniency–let alone a black famous athlete. It is through that sensitivity which, rightly or wrongly, I put forth the possibility that Mr. Rice got off light because the prosecutor had no charges to stick. Despite the public not knowing all the details, the fact that his fiancé being arrested that night, despite being knocked out.

                      I am not pointing out that fact to victim blame. I am pointing out that to show that HE GOT OFF!!!!!!!!!! The law worked more for him than it did for her. I was the first one in this threat to bring up Zimmerman. Mr Simon later expounded up that. Because of the way certain laws are, if certain situations and circumstances happen, RIce can get off…a Zimmerman can get off. My initial statement started asking since are so outraged at his lack of punishment, shouldn’t we be able to under the process that allowed for such leniency.

                      The topic then switched to the espn commentator who was suspended. His words were misrepresented, period. He was in effect, silenced. My point from there was no matter how ugly a situation is no matter how much WE may agree with each other, though this may be the court of public opinion, everyone deserves to treated fairly. There should be a process or atleast some decency that allows the “defendant” for a lack of a better term, to at least have his say and what is said to be fairly and fully represented in its full context.

                      I offered up the example of Mr. Simon and how he was on the receiving end of a hatchet job. If you think it is fine to end discussions on people, again, WE (as in I on your side) hate, fine. But there may come a day where WE doesn’t include YOU.

                      SO those were in essence my points. I clearly stated many times Mr Rice’s actions were inexcusable. I clearly stated that WE were on the same side in the MORAL aspect of this issue. I clearly stated over and over this was a legal discussion versus a moral one. But to make my points, I had to defend, in certain contexts, Mr. Rice and Mr. Smith.

    • Bringing this up to the top of the thread b/c I can’t stand reading half a word per line anymore…

      Kevin, I’m not mad at you and I don’t think you have any need to clear your name; no one has accused you of anything. But you did make a point that’s inaccurate.

      While you are absolutely correct in noting that the justice system does not typically go lightly on African-American defendents as a whole, and that arrests & convictions of this demographic are wildly disproportionate, you are incorrect in assuming that athletes, specifically, are subject to the same bias. In fact research indicates just the opposite: athletes are much, much less likely to be convicted for sexual assault or domestic violence than non-athletes.

      A 2010 study by the Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law found that “…there is evidence that professional athletes are not punished by the leagues, teams, or criminal justice system as harshly or consistently as their general public counterparts….Similarly, conviction rates for athletes are astonishingly low compared to the arrest statistics. Though there is evidence that the responsiveness of police and prosecution to sexual assault complaints involving athletes is favorable, there is an off-setting pro-athlete bias on the part of juries. For example, in 1995, domestic violence cases involving athletes resulted in a thirty-six percent conviction rate, as compared to seventy-seven percent for the general public.”

      You can read the full article here:


      • Kevin, I get the point you are trying to make about the law. But you are saying more than that and maybe you don’t realize it. You are making some kind of moral argument. What Steven A. Smith said is indefensible, and maybe I read you wrong but you seem to be defending him. Again and again you say that maybe something happened in the elevator that would justify Rice’s action as self-defense? What could justify one knocking out someone else who is clearly physically inferior to them? The only possibility I can think of is if she had a gun, and that is not the case here. I must repeat how dangerous Smith’s words are. He can say he opposes violence towards women, but then saying women can provoke the violence is putting the blame on them. I must state that I get very emotional about this issue. Beating one’s wife only became illegal a little more than a century ago and remains a serious problem in the country especially law enforcement’s willingness to pursue the problem. Louis CK brilliantly reminded Americans how fucked up it is that we have a piece of clothing that we affectionately refer to as a “wife-beater”. Also I cannot speak for everyone, but many are more enraged that Goodell hardly punished him, given the past punishments he has doled out. I really enjoy watching football but I don’t know if I can continue watching the Ravens or any NFL game without getting sick to my stomach. Let’s go O’s

    • I know that you must be relishing the Orioles winning their division! And as a Nationals fan, I will raise a pint to you if there’s a B-W Parkway series.

  • Spring of 1989, and I’m a freshman at UMBC in a survey American Lit. course. The week before Opening Day, with a flourish of deft syllabus planning, our old (to us anyway), Brooklyn College-grad professor delivers his opening lecture on The Natural. In the middle of a more pedestrian version of A. Bartlett Giamatti’s rebirth/hope-springs-eternal/baseball-as-cycle-of-life shtick, the old prof says something like, “and even the Orioles, the lowly Orioles, have hope.” Remember this is right after the crash of 21-straight losses to begin the previous year on the way to an accumulation of 107 petit humiliations. “Who will rise up and present himself as the hero — as the savior of the city. . . . will it be . . . ” — and he named the new rookie we’d been hearing about all the previous season — “Steeeve Finnnnleeeey?”

    It was funny. And it was ridiculous. Surely Finley was merely Ken Gerhart redux.

    And when a few days later, in his debut, Steve Finley ran back on a fly ball, crashed into the wall and immediately went on the DL, well, there you had it. Yet, in his absence the O’s leaped out to a solid lead, and when Finley returned less than a month later, to publicly struggle through the separated shoulder in sub-Mendoza fashion, his teammates would still tell reporters asking for explanation of the turn-around, “well, you know, Steve Finley set the tone on Opening Day by crashing into that wall and risking his neck on his very first day in the big leagues.

    Damned if he wasn’t a little bit Bump Baily & a little bit Roy Hobbs. And, so his teammates would have you believe, a savior of sorts.

  • Ah Mr. Simon,
    Even though every inch of your biography is tied to Baltimore, and even though I remember the Orioles love sprinkled throughout The Wire, it always kills me to remember your allegiance. I think it’s because it disrupts the imaginary intergenerational friendship I’ve created in my overactive imagination. But it’s also slightly more. I am, you see, an sometimes slightly ashamed, always devoted Yankees fan. Having come from Upstate, I could write a tome on the conflicted nature of being needled as much as anyone by New York City’s self obsession while putting all the stock in the world on the success of a team which to everybody else symbolizes the same. I was six in 1996, and as such grew up as perhaps the most spoiled sports fan imaginable. Is it strange to win four of the first five years you care about? I didn’t realize it at the time. My older brothers had some comparably bad times, but I came along at the right time.

    The trouble is that, while Redsox complaining is easily rejected as fans of one large budgeted juggernaut rallying fading memories of romantic bad luck to decry another, it’s harder to dismiss the cynicism of our other division rivals . I do also see in my fellow fans’ shock and outrage at an only decent last season, or the content assumption that we’re owed dominance every year, the smugness which drives everybody else so crazy.

    Still, childhood is a strong force, and few memories make me smile more than aping Jeter’s swing and swagger with a tennis ball in the house, and at great risk to my mother’s windows. Therefore, here’s to the dwindling chances of my , injury prone, overpayed bunch of oldies sweeping past your Baltimore and into at least a not humiliating postseason, followed by the birth of a new dynasty, over which New Yorkers can crow for ever.
    If we ever meet, we’ll have to talk about mandatory minimums and newspapers because in baseball, I hope every year for your heartbreak.

    At least I wasn’t brought up a fan of the Washington Football team. That would be a proper dilemma.

  • I fear that you are overestimating the Tigers. While they have been better than the rest of the pack that litters the AL central, They do have some significant holes.

    However, that is not the real reason for my comment.. Instead it is to comment on the silliest, but easily most amazing thing I have ever purchased..

    a custom Baltimore Orioles “Giardello” jersey.

  • Baseball. For me it is the Reds. After many years of stinko teams, have made it first round of playoffs three times in four years. Not really happy experiences any of those times.

    This year, injury plagued, fits and starts. Reached 500 shortly before AS break. Fabulous pre-break run. My small town municipally owned cable system acquired Fox Sports Ohio just as the break was ending. I now have the opportunity to watch some or all or none of all the Reds games. They have not won since that occurred. Now I am taking a self imposed mental health break. Just a few days. Not a student of the game by any means. But I genuinely enjoy this team when they aren’t flat out killing me.

    Keep an eye out for young Billy Hamilton. His first year up. A speedster. Growing well into center field. Met him along with also young Todd Frazier in 2013 when the Reds Caravan stopped in Lexington on their February tour. Now my brother and I kind of feel like we had a part in raising them or something.

  • I see you and Deitsch are at it again. I like your sportswriting.

    Last year at the Austin Film Festival, I had the opportunity to interview the film director Rian Johnson. He said something about baseball that you might find consoling.

    “One of the things that is comforting about watching baseball is the inherent unfickleness of it. It’s the length of the season and the amount of games It’s the fact that there is always tomorrow. And not only that, there’s always the next at bat and the notion that no matter how down you feel about any specific player, or about your chances in the game, every time somebody gets up to bat, even if it’s the last bat in the ninth, there’s always the chance that something ridiculously amazing is going to happen.”

    I applaud your unwavering interest and devotion to the Orioles. Stay hopeful. Sabermetrics and typing monkeys aside.

    • That was scarcely sportswriting. I have too much respect for good sportswriting to claim otherwise.

      More of a humor piece.

  • From my twenty years of living in a monastery combined with the exhile of the Seattle Super Sonics, and my own personal meditative experience, I have come to the conclusion that God just doesn’t give a… hoot. Maybe God just likes a good tragedy as much as the rest if us.

  • Why do you beat up on a Cubs fan? Hasn’t he suffered enough?

    While you argue that it might be theoretically possible for the Orioles to pull off another pennant by playing with infinities, I don’t think this logic applies when you extend it to the Cubs. I think you need to take into account that the universe isn’t actually infinite. Someday, billions of years from now, the Sun will destroy the Earth and in hundreds of billions of years matter will be ripped apart so that even atoms aren’t stable. There will be no baseball field for the Cubs to play in. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be so confident that they could pull off another pennant.

    But still, why would they even want to? They know their fans are masochists (there is no other logical explanation). Their fans get off on being the perpetual underdog. Why would you want to take that away from them? If they were to win another World Series, their fans would be briefly happy, feel the elation at a long fought victory that their parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and possibly great-great grandparents didn’t experience, and then realize in a moment of horrendous clarity that this feeling might never come again. Is it not kinder for the Cubs management to continue creating a losing team instead of allowing their fans to feel the despair at knowing that there no longer remains any great and almost insurmountable goal?

    And if this doesn’t move you, think about the late night comedians. They’ve lost George Bush to make fun of. Now you want to take the Cubs away from them?

  • I think it’s merely a little Ogden Nash our simian cousins are are expected to be able to stochastically pound out…

    “He took Rome as an Osprey takes a fish; by sovereignty of nature” -Bill Shakespeare

    “Do you feel infirm; you probably contain a germ” -Ogden Nash

  • The last week has been pretty good for us. With the exception of the Sunday beatdown by the A’s. These west coast trips are the few times in life when its pleasant to get a loud beep from your phone in the middle of the night. Its the MLB app telling me that the O’s won. Not to mention that in terms of things breaking our way, we have one of the best outfielders in the game in Adam Jones. A lot of stink was made when he first arrived in town about his attitude and chewing of gum which was bullshit. He is one of my favorites and so far has exceeded expectations in regard to his fairly big contract. Hell, the other day in Anaheim, I think he even took enough pitches for a free trip to 1st base. Go O’s.

  • The season isn’t over, David. There’s plenty of time for the Orioles to choke. As of today, the anemic Yankees are only two and a half games behind the O’s, and have won six out of the last seven games, I believe. Simians aside, it comes down to heart, a good GM, and Jeter’s last year, which is the main reason that the Yanks will pull off winning the division. We must have the Hollywood ending.

  • ” If there were a God, he would be—as evidenced by all of modern baseball history—a devoted fan of the Yankees. And God, at least the Judeo-Christian version of Him rather than the Aristotelian unmoved mover, is said to be good. Ergo, there is no God.”

    Best syllogism ever, says this Dodger fan.

    Though, if I might be so bold, may I offer one of my own. Not baseball related, but as a fan of rhetoric and debate, you might like it.

    ? Disney owns Marvel
    ? Marvel created Thor.
    ? Thor is the son of a king.
    ? Thor is now female.
    ? A female child of a monarch is a princess.
    ? Thor is now a Disney princess.

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