April 24, 2011

Luke Scott, please stop talking.

ESPN.com writer Amy K. Nelson recently wrote an article called Always Locked and Loaded about Luke Scott, the controversial Baltimore Orioles outfielder. The aim of the article was supposedly to show that Scott isn't the man he's reputed to be. Nelson stated:

"...the simple assumption is that Scott is a right-wing nut, a borderline racist and a loudmouth redneck ballplayer who should keep his mouth shut. But it's not that simple."

The problem is the article doesn't seem very convincing. Scott was a fairly anonymous ballplayer until December when he spoke to Yahoo! Sports blogger David Brown about a variety of issues, one of which was our Commander-In-Chief:

"Obama does not represent America. … He does not represent what our forefathers stood for."

No one said Scott had to like Obama; I'm guessing he didn't vote for change. Perhaps it's because Obama is a noted White Sox fan; whatever the reason, Scott went on a little too long. He stated he did not believe Obama had been born in America and hinted that the President was a socialist:

"People who tell the truth, they're very easy to … their actions prove it. Something as simple providing a birth certificate. Come on. … There needs to be accountability for the truth. I don't care if you're the President of the United States, you need to be held accountable."

By Scott's standards, he too must be held accountable. In this case, he must be held accountable for his racist attitudes and remarks. As Bill Maher pointed out, "birthers" claim Obama is Kenyan because they know they can't get away with calling him the n-word. I couldn't have said it better myself. It must be said loud and clear that the myth upheld by "birthers" is thinly veiled racism. It is astounding that there is such a small outcry by Americans and the media against such a poorly disguised and backwards concept.

The Orioles issued a statement immediately after the story broke, vehemently distancing themselves from Scott. They went beyond the usual line of pointing out that Scott's opinions were his own and instead seemed to express disappointment in Scott's choices, as well they should have.

When Scott was interviewed by Nelson, he did little to backtrack:

"I felt tremendous about what I said, and I was proud of it. If I could rewind and turn back the clock and go do it again, I'd say the exact same thing. I'd go home and put my head on the pillow and feel wonderful about myself. But certain things were taken and twisted."

Ignoring the contradiction of this statement, if Luke Scott doesn't see anything wrong with what he has said, the Orioles might want to revoke his speaking privileges. Everyone may be entitled to their opinion, but that doesn't mean they are entitled to express that opinion, and that is even more true for public figures. It is sad that someone as mediocre as Luke Scott is a public figure, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Predictably, his team was quick to come to his defense. New teammate and third baseman Mark Reynolds praised Scott for being a straight shooter:

"He doesn't talk behind people's backs about anything. A lot of people have those opinions and don't say anything. Did I think he needed to go to the winter meetings and say all those things? Probably not. But he'll give you his opinion. He's a patriot. He loves America. He's one-of-a-kind."

Mark Reynolds apparently hasn't heard that patriotism and racism haven't been synonymous since the 1860's. Luke Scott isn't a patriot, he is an embarrassment. It's lucky that practically no one knows who he is.

The article stresses Scott's relationship with his teammates, particularly the Latinos and African Americans. I searched the article for the phrase"I'm not racist. I have a black friend. See?" but I surprisingly could not find them. Felix Pie spoke highly of Scott, pointing out that Scott helped resurrect his career after he was traded from the Cubs. Scott apparently told him "...he was running out of time in his career and that he lacked the qualities of a person with good character." That comes off as pretty insulting and self righteous, but maybe Pie needed some tough love. Scott's exact words were a bit harder to excuse:

"I tell him about some of the ways he's acted: 'Look, you're acting like an animal, you're acting like a savage. So I throw (plantains) in his helmet. Here are my banana chips to remind him that whenever he acts like an animal, 'Hey, that's what other people are thinking. They're just not telling you, but that's what they're thinking about. And I'm telling you so that you're aware of that so you can make a cognitive decision to not behave like that.' I would want someone to tell me that instead of letting you making a jerk of yourself."

Ummmm...insert awkward silence here. An animal and a savage; why didn't he just call him a monkey? Everyone in the Orioles clubhouse defended Scott and said that he ribs people and they rib him right back, and that may be so. But doesn't it seem odd for a man who has a race-related image problem to say those things to a journalist?

And I somehow doubt that Scott would make racist remarks out of irony. He just doesn't seem like the type to envoke racism in the hopes of exposing ignorance in society. That's something Mark Twain might have done. In contrast, Scott revealed he has a "safe room" in his home full of food, supplies and over 100 weapons with ammunition, as if he were preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Scott said he would have been a Marine sniper had he not been a ballplayer (apparently forgetting that he would need to be accepted into training) and showed off his SIG Sauer 556 assault rifle to Nelson, remarking, "That's my mom's favorite right there. She loves to shoot it." Not exactly the portrait of a societal satirist.

It's sounding more and more like "a right-wing nut, a borderline racist and a loudmouth redneck ballplayer" is exactly what Luke Scott is. And it seems the Orioles agree; during the interview, Scott had an adviser present, discouraging him from discussing certain topics. You could probably also call this person a babysitter or a muzzle. Scott apparently has to be supervised like a dangerous mental patient. At the very least, he's an idiot.

The Orioles organization can publicly say whatever they like about Scott,but if I were them, my private message would be: "Talk about anything other than baseball and you're going back to triple-A." Luke Scott was given a chance to to make clean up his image; instead, he may have dug himself into an even deeper hole.

Random Note: A tortoise walks into a police station to report he was robbed by a gang of snails. When the officer wanted to know exactly what happened the tortoise said, "I don't know. It all happened so fast."

I wonder if Luke Scott would get it.

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