Washington Post Poll Supports Dan Snyder’s View!

PETA suggested way to retain team name without slur.

A couple of years ago I made the decision to drop the Washington NFL team’s name from The Fantasy Football Guide.

The rationale was simple. The name derived from a term common to scalp hunters during the Indian wars of the 19th Century. It was considered offensive by many Native Americans. The team’s own history of use of the name began with a racist and his racist intentions. Or, as Tara Houska, quoted in the New York Times article today about the WaPo poll, said:

“Ms. Houska, who lives in Washington, said she was bracing for all the people who would be waving the poll in her face — “the poll, the poll, the poll” — and saying she had no right to be offended by the name of the local football team.

That the matter is even up for debate baffles her.

“It’s a straight-up slur,” she said. “It’s a dictionary-defined racial slur. It should be a no-brainer — but somehow, it’s not.”

After the first magazine issue without the team name came out I received a number of angry letters from people saying that if they’d read the Editor’s Letter about the issue before buying the magazine they would have put it back on the rack. Some were mad because I was attacking their team, their Nation, and they would not stand for that. Others were mad because they saw in my stance the influence of the mad culture of political correctness, in which it is suddenly and (to apparently many) improper to seek to avoid needlessly insulting people and hatefully reminding them that they have it worse than you.

I’m sure we lost some sales since then to these folks, but sales overall are up andI get more letters each year from folks who like the magazine than the year before, so I can live with the consequences of pushing this small principle.

But learning today about this poll disturbs me a bit. Could it be true that 90 percent of the polled Native Americans don’t have a problem with the Washington team’s name? And the poll reports that 80 percent would not be offended if called redskin by a non Native American. There are questions about the poll. The sample was small and there are questions about the demographics. I would be more suspicious of these results if they didn’t echo a 2004 Annenberg poll on the issue that has always been looked at as on the margins, since so much Native American institutional strength was allied against the Washington NFL team name.

The Times article goes into the process of once offensive expressions becoming something else, relates stories from different cultures, but returns ultimately to Ms. Houska, and ends with her quote, which I included above. It’s well worth reading.

Now, production is underway on the Fantasy Football Guide 2016 and I’ve got some thinking to do. Ten percent of 5.4M Native Americans is 540,000 people. That’s not a small number to offend with something as trivial as a team name. I’m inclined to continue the boycott, even if it isn’t politically correct in these times.

KVETCH: All Star Stats is Horrible!

It is 9 am on Thursday morning. My coffee is gone and my preworkday ritual of checking my fantasy baseball teams has been disrupted because All Star Stats hasn’t updated yesterday’s stats. Instead I see this (click to expand):

This is the third day this week ASS (as we mockingly call them) has failed to do what every other stat service seems able to do; that is, update the standings before midmorning. Yesterday they didn’t update until after 11 am!

This is absurd because ASS is an expensive service. The book rate to run a league for the season is more than $500. We complained a few years ago and they cut the price by a couple hundred dollars, but we still pay a premium. (I should note that the screen capture is from the XFL, which is comped by ASS because we’re a longtime “industry” league. I can’t complain about that. It is the American Dream League that is being bled by the service thieves at All Star Stats.)

If this was the first time there were service problems, so be it, but I was just searching through my email and discovered that we were complaining about this exact same issue in 2007! There have been many days with the same problem every year! Many days. Yes, we are idiots.

What has kept us at ASS all these years is what kept us at USA Stats in the years before that company was bought by All Start stats. (Before that we were with the venerated and brilliant Heath Data Services, perhaps the game’s first stat service, which has not ever been matched, but was sold to USA Stats in the mid-90s.) That is inertia. A league full of older guys fears having to learn a new system. The discomfort zone is high, even when the company delivering the goods now is doing a terrible job of it, costing 350 percent more for fewer features and less reliability.

I can promise you, we will not be with ASS next year. Even the most frightened of our cohort is realizing that this level of indifference is degrading, insulting, cannot be tolerated by reasonable people. Not being able to get our stats for a few hours from time to time isn’t the biggest deal in the world, for sure, but why should we pay extra for this? I should note that the ASS support people write apologetically very well, what with all the practice they’ve had.

ASS is owned by NBC, which is owned by Comcast, neither of which has any organic connection to the fantasy baseball world. They are playing us for fools, and it is well past time we all move on.

Getting Less Flacid

I should be more rigid about condemning flacid writing (and thinking). We don’t have enough time in our days to sort through all the crap. At mlb.com tonight, in the game preview for tomorrow’s Cards/Brewer’s Beer Bash, MLB.com’s Mike Bauman wrote:

“For a time, the Brewers were seemingly in denial about Marcum’s slump, chalking up his poundings to pitching with bad luck. Now, cognitive progress is being made. The first step toward solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem. The slump is being seen as a combination of not being as sharp as he was earlier in the season and bad luck.”

I like his aggressive style, but really, he’s hyping here the way those acronymically diverse wrestling and kickboxing organiztions do. What we want to know is what evidence there is why Marcum’s success in the first five months has cratered.

The answer doesn’t have to be definite. Especially if luck is a factor, which it seems to be in this case. Marcum early success somewhat lucky, late failure somewhat unlucky. But to add such writerly and faux analytical touches to a story that hypes such totally dreamland ideas of starting Narveson over Marcum in Game 6 is just shoddy. Or maybe even, dare I say it, pandering.

Whoops, I just pandered.

mlb.tv fail

I love that I can watch any baseball game I want as long as it doesn’t involve the Yankees or Mets on my computer and Roku box and iPod Touch. I pay MLB $120 to watch on my computer and Roku box, and another $15 to watch on the Touch, but it’s worth it. Really.

Except, like tonight, when I tried to check into the Anaheim-Seattle game in the 9th inning. I’m logged in at MLB (they know my name), and my bills are paid (though I’m not including a copy of my receipt here, but trust me), and when I try to check into the game (which ironically enough is the “free” game of the day) I get this:

What’s the problem? I don’t know. I do know that they know I’m logged in to the site, and I’m logged in from my home network, and I’m trying to watch the game that is the “free” game, and I’m paid up, so I also know they’re just failing totally.

If you’re a fan and you understand the blackout rules and you’re okay with them, this is still a great service. But this bogus verification step makes me mad. I’m the customer. When your verification systems fails, give me the game, and sort our your problems on your own time. (Oh, it’s over now. Too late.)

I’m still mad.

Clint Barmes is Dead to Me.

I try to draft my fantasy teams based on my state of the art diagnostic mathematics, but as we all know other stuff happens.

In this case, I paid the going rate this  year for Clint Barmes, a player I’ve long hated, because he was the best available dude and he earned $19 last year.  Was that stupid?

Don’t answer that. It appears to have been. Stupid, I mean.

Calculating the nexus between talent, opportunity and foregiveness is complicated, and one of the great joys and/or pains of playing fantasy baseball is the verdict. I wouldn’t mind being wrong about Barmes if he was hitting for me the way he’s hit for all the years he was hitting for someone else!

Well, the joy is getting it right, which is delightful!

So let me be blunt: As we all knew, Barmes isn’t much good, and has now apparently lost his job. And at this point I don’t care if he’s ever any good, except I know he will be as soon as I find some sucker to take him off my hands. Grrr.

Point/Counterpoint: Johan Santana

Mets Geek

My friend Steve Hubbell and his host, John Patterson, debated on January 18th whether a Santana trade would be good for the Mets, or a disasterous miscalculation. The die is now cast, apparently, and the Mets made a slightly better deal than Patterson anticipated (Gomez not Martinez). I suspect this debate will have entertainment value for years to come. Nice job, guys.