Tag Archives: Curt Flood

Stop Telling Athletes to Just Shut Up and Play

13 Aug

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

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A fan on Twitter chided Ohio State quarterback for expressing his views on the Black Lives Matter Movement.

PHILADELPHIA—Last month, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones took to Twitter to express his support for the Black Lives Matter Movement and was met with the typical response from fans that African American athletes get whenever they speak on social justice issues.  

Jones tweeted: “#AllLivesMatter why is that the only ones getting beaten, killed when unarmed, & mysteriously dien in custody African-American …You tell me that #AllLivesMatter well I say how do you define “All”?

An Ohio State fan responded with: “Worry about getting us fans another championship …Stay out of this bulls—.”    

Jones shot back at the fan with a Tweet steeped in sarcasm: “Sorry Mr. master, I aints allow to tweet nothing but foolsbaall stuff I donts want you think I more than a foots ball playa sir.”

The fan then apologized to Jones and later shut his Twitter site down.

Last week, I wrote about the complaints that several former Philadelphia Eagles players have leveled about ill treatment at the hands of head coach Chip Kelly, some of which has accused the former Oregon coach of racism. In a recent story on the Bleacher Report website, a pair of unnamed Eagles said that it wasn’t racism, but Kelly’s need to have total, dictatorial control of his team.

Like it or not, some veteran ball players aren’t going to take too well to that kind of coaching and some like former Eagle Brandon Boykin are going to complain about it, possibly in front of a live microphone.

Now whether or not I agree with the athlete isn’t the point. His right to be honest and have his own opinions is. While I have no problem debating the veracity or even the credibility of an athlete’s point of view, it bothers me when fans and media people tell athletes, especially African-American athletes, to just “shut up and play.”

For example, you might have thought that former Eagle Cary Williams’s complaints about Kelly’s hard practices causing team burnout late in the season may have been a little ridiculous considering some of the completions he gave up in some of those games, but I appreciated the man’s honesty.

And it’s hard to take reporters seriously when they complain about clichéd responses from athletes when sincere, heartfelt answers that challenge whatever the prevailing narrative is at the moment also bring scorn.  

Of course, the first response that seems to come from social media or sports talk radio when professional athletes speak their minds is that they have no right to complain because of the millions of dollars they make. It’s as if money is supposed to suppress your right to express yourself.

You’re supposed to turn a blind eye to injustice just because you’re rich. Your financial security means that you can’t protest your work conditions the way Curt Flood did in refusing to be traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies, the move that eventually led to free agency in Major League Baseball.

Being a Black man of means doesn’t mean that you won’t still have problems getting a cab in New York or Boston. It also doesn’t mean that you won’t get pulled over by the cops for no reason other than the color of your skin like any other Black person in America.

For African-American athletes there’s a perception that they should be grateful for making the millions they make and shouldn’t rock the boat by daring to make a statement about something that impacts everyone, including them. While there is a certain amount of gratitude that these athletes probably have for their God-given abilities, they’re in the NFL because of that ability and their hard work. It’s something they’ve earned…and they shouldn’t be expected to give up their First Amendment rights in order to enjoy it.

What’s really ironic about all this is that I’ve heard those complaints in blue-collar, union towns like Philly, Baltimore, Boston, Pittsburgh, New York, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit.

Seems to me that you folks need a little bit of a history lesson, so let me help you out.

Were it not for people like Walter P. Reuther (United Auto Workers), A. Philip Randolph (Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters), and Cesar Chavez (United Farm Workers), people who refused to just “shut up and work” and rocked the boat instead, that 40-hour work week, with the living wage, the paid sick and vacation days and the healthcare plan that so many of you union workers enjoy wouldn’t exist.

Might want to remember that the next time you want to shut down your favorite athlete on Twitter.

 

 

 

Hall of Sham: Why The Exclusion of Bonds and Clemens from the Hall of Fame is Wrong

10 Jan

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

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Barry Bonds was denied entry into the Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility because of alleged steroids use.

After hearing about the decision not to select anyone for the 2013 Class of the Baseball Hall of Fame, I have come to the conclusion that the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. is fast becoming a very bad joke.

It has become a shameful laughing stock because those who are charged with making the selections, the Baseball Writers Association of America have taken the stage and become the story, something we were trained never to do as journalists.

I’ve always felt that the Hall of Fame selection was biased on many levels having nothing to do with the game such as some players not getting along with sports writers or political reasons like the case of Curt Flood and Marvin Miller who both changed the game by advocating for the rights of the player.

I wonder why those guys aren’t in Cooperstown, yet?

On this year’s ballot, you had Barry Bonds, your all-time leader in homeruns; Roger Clemens, winner of the most Cy Young awards; Sammy Sosa, a man who had multiple 60-homerun seasons; Rafael Palmeiro, one of four players with 500 home-runs and 3,000 hits and Mike Piazza, one of the best hitting catchers ever.

And none of them got in. Not even Piazza who was never among those accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.

The guys from the Steroids Era warrant the most attention here because I find it utterly fascinating that baseball writers have become obnoxiously self righteous about denying these guys entrance into the Hall of Fame of a sport where the rules have often been bent. Just ask guys like Gaylord Perry and Whitey Ford, who did things to doctor baseballs or players who used amphetamines to gain a competitive edge.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is a motley crew of cheaters, virulent racists, gamblers and disreputable men and there’s even an accused child molester in the writer’s wing. It’s not necessarily a hallowed sanctuary for good behavior.

Roger Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards, but was denied entry into the 2013 Class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Roger Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards, but was denied entry into the 2013 Class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There was a Steroids Era in baseball because Major League Baseball was the only sports league in the world that had no rules against performance enhancing drugs. There were no testing procedures.  The union that’s supposed to look out for the player’s health and the league that’s supposed to maintain the integrity of the game did nothing about it, except to reap the billions of dollars in revenue.

Even though the drugs are against the law, everyone associated with the sport, including those writers who vote for the Hall of Fame, looked the other way while aging players late into their careers were putting up astronomical numbers.

And now those who vote for the Hall of Fame believe they are preserving the integrity of the game by denying Bonds, Clemens or Sosa entry into the Hall of Fame. Everybody wants to be an avenging angel after the fact.

Since PEDs in baseball were as pervasive as the Mitchell Report stated, the records will stand with no asterisks, teams will not be giving back pennants or World Series rings and owners definitely aren’t going to give money back to the fans who spent millions of dollars to see juiced up players.

Like it or not, Bonds and Clemens were the best players of their era even before they allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs. Denying them entry into the Hall of Fame amounts to nothing more than pettiness on the part of the writers.

If the Hall of Fame is supposed to be a keeper of the history of the game, there needs to be some honesty here. You can mention their deeds and the conditions under which they excelled and that baseball did not have a policy prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs and everyone in the sport deserves a share of the responsibility.

I say put the steroids users in the Hall of Fame because if nothing else they were at least competing against a level playing field given the pervasiveness of PEDs in the sport.

As it stands now, the Baseball Hall of Fame is a monument to the terminally self-righteous considering that you don’t have the all-time hits leader, the all-time home run king, it’s most successful pitcher, one of the greatest hitting catchers and two men who laid the foundation for baseball free agency.

There’s something wrong with that picture.