Spoop Jackson: I see dead people (and racists)
“How did two of the game's greatest players at their positions (or any position) and ambassadors of baseball -- and their influence on the influx of minority contributions to the game -- get so conveniently overlooked? How does this happen to those two particular players who are larger than life, bigger than the game, but doesn't happen to the only other one?
The one who meant the same to one set of people that the other two meant to their people? "
Spoop Jackson’s latest witch hunt for racism (also known as his ESPN Page 2 submission) yet again exposes his tunnel vision and simple minded outlook on sports, and certainly, life. Spoop lambastes SI for not including Satchel Paige and Roberto Clemente in their All Time All Star list. In of itself, it is fair criticism, as both players have stats and legend that rival those of many of the “includees”. But, critical diatribes directed at any “all time great lists” should be tempered with the reality that: ONLY A CERTAIN NUMBER OF PLAYERS CAN BE INCLUDED. Now think about that. If only 25 players can be included, that means the REST can’t. Follow so far, Spoop? If the rest can’t, that means some that might well be on par with those included may well be left off. I’ll wait for you to catch up, Spoop…..Ready? Ok…..Now, the other reality of “all time great lists” is this: they are OPINIONS. What does that mean, Spoop? Well, that means that the folks that were asked to participate submitted a listing of players that THEY felt should be on the list. Ok, Spoop….here comes the next part. Whenever people give opinions, other people (in this case YOU, Spoop) often have different opinions. To recap: limited space on “all time great list”, some deserving souls will be left off, selectors base choices on opinion, other people have different opinion. So far, everything makes sense and seems normal. Spoop read the list, and he had a difference of opinion. I’m sure ALL of us that read the list will have a gripe or two, or would trade someone on the list for someone left off….it’s the nature of such a compilation. No problems with that.
The problem arises with the above quote from Spoop’s submission. Clearly, the primary inference is that race is the reason that Paige and Clemente were left off. The secondary inference is that, in deference to the proposition that Paige and Clemente may be (or in actuality, may not be) as revered and held in the same esteem and significance as Babe Ruth within the Black and Latino communities, they should have been included. And that is where Spoop’s tunnel vision and unfailing ability to turn anything and everything into a riptide of racial bias rears its head. Almost on cue. Predictable to the minute. I mean, if you were told that Spoop was writing about SI’s “all time great list” for baseball, what would you guess he would write about? I bet 99% would guess he wrote about a black guy left off the list and said it was racist. GOOD GUESS! Of course in an effort to conjure up his rock solid case of bias, he included Clemente. Clearly cementing his proposition that the list ignores the icons of not one but TWO racial groups. Well done, Spoop!
The more Spoop I read, the more I become convinced that he tries too hard. In his efforts to spark debate and discussion on race, he finds racial issues in areas that they really don’t exist. In actuality, HE creates them. SI didn’t bill this All Time Great team as the definitive HISTORY of baseball. Yet, in his column, Spoop wags his finger and scolds that “You should feel a slight sense of illness and disgust at how the game of baseball and those that tell its story still refuse to make the story complete.” Where exactly did the folks that put this All Star team together claim it was a comprehensive account of the history and story of baseball? Spoop, in his efforts to confront and identify racism at every possible juncture, has affected his OWN presumption of what constitutes an all time great team on SI’s list. He has caste his own presumption of what the story of baseball is upon SI’s list. And therein lies the problem, as well as the complete exposure of Spoop’s inability to see past the color of his own nose: The list is what it is! A LIST. Compiled based on the opinions of “experts”. Submitted for the enjoyment of readers to debate. That someone read it and somehow determined that it was a concerted effort to denigrate the contributions of not only two people (Paige and Clemente), but TWO races is mind-boggling.
I will give Spoop credit though. He can find racial bias in things the rest of us only find fun. And if his goal in life is to roust the racial boogeyman out from under every bed in the country, he should understand: Sometime people mistake shadows for boogeymen.
I think Spoop is afraid of his own shadow.