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Bill James doubles down on the Joe Paterno defense

Jul 14, 2012, 6:02 PM EDT

Bill James

Yesterday we looked at Bill James’ initial comments defending Joe Paterno. His take: Paterno did what he was supposed to have done circa 1998 and what more could possibly have been asked of him? You know, apart from doing a single thing to prevent Jerry Sandusky from raping more children in the Penn State football facilities, which James apparently believes would have been some sort of super-human, above-and-beyond kind of thing.

One would figure that James would stop with that, but today on Doug Gottlieb’s ESPN Radio show, James doubled down. Not only does he continue to erroneously assert that Paterno did everything he could have done back in 1998, but he insists that the Sandusky coverup was the media’s fault. And that, sure, grown men showering with boys was something that was totally common 40 years ago.

The audio — about 15 minutes worth — is here.  The Big Lead transcribed the more critical bits, which included the following:

“[Paterno] knew less about [Sandusky] than everyone else there … He had very few allies. He was isolated. He was not nearly as powerful as people imagine him to have been … they kept it quiet because they had no idea what was happening … they just thought they were dealing with a little misunderstanding … people who are responsible for it are the media. The media created this smokescreen behind which Sandusky operated, and then they’re trying to blame Paterno.”

There are no words.

Wait, there are words: stop it, Bill. You’re talking total nonsense. You’re being a contrarian because you like being a contrarain and you hate what you consider to be rushes to judgment, mob mentality and piling on. But this is one case where your instincts are failing you and you’re making yourself look like a fool.

If people don’t think anything particularly bad is happening, they do not commit a coverup of the magnitude and nature of the coverup which was committed at Penn State. And even if one thinks that Joe Paterno’s power within Penn State was somehow less than what is generally assumed — which is silly, as the man was the closest thing to a God at that institution — what difference does it make?  One need not have some exalted status to pick up a phone and call the police. Indeed, the grand jury investigation which eventually uncovered all of this ugliness was launched by a phone call from the parents of one of the victims.

Any number of people could have stopped Sandusky. It has been conclusively proven that Paterno and many other members of the Penn State hierarchy had sufficient information as far back as 1998 and without question as soon as 2002 that could have and should have put Sandusky in prison and which would have spared countless young boys from his evil. Paterno chose not to act. All of them did. And they didn’t do it because they were ignorant and powerless. They did it because they feared bad publicity for their beloved football program, their own reputations and their careers.  They were rank cowards and, it very well appears, criminals in their own right.

How James, a man who can see so much that others cannot see, can fail to see this is beyond me. One need not muster some sort of moral outrage or make the worst assumptions about anyone to see what is plain with respect to Paterno and Sandusky and all that happened and didn’t happen at Penn State. One must merely look at the emails exchanged between the men who committed the coverup. To see what they cared about and what they didn’t care about, what they did and what they didn’t do, and what those acts and omissions allowed to happen.

It was the media’s fault? Please. That’s a pathetic canard when it’s deployed in normal circumstances. To cite that here when there are so many obvious people worthy of blame — real, damnable blame — is perverse in the extreme.

Of course, what James considers acceptable in all of this is eluding me anyway:

At the 14:10 mark Gottlieb asks James, “have you ever showered with a boy? Do you know anybody who has showered with a boy?” James says “Yes, that was actually quite common in the town I grew up in. That was quite common in America 40 years ago.”

Again. No words. This time I mean it.

UPDATE: One clarification here. That last bit comes off slightly cheap on my part. I don’t mean the curt response to be the equivalent of “gosh, look at that weirdo who thinks it’s cool for men to shower with boys.”  And I would prefer that the comments here don’t trend in that direction, because I don’t think it’s what James meant. And I don’t think Bill is saying that as a means of defending Sandusky’s actions or even Paterno’s coverup.  I think, though, that the answer is a tell that Bill doesn’t exactly understand what he’s commenting on, and that it remains significant for that reason.

That comment about men and boys 40 years ago came in response to a direct question. James, as is his wont, answered it directly. He didn’t provide any expanded context — Does he mean causally? Does he mean coaches and players? Fathers and sons? Innocently, as a means of water conservation? — but he answered it.  I think he’s the type who will answer any direct question you put to him directly, no matter how uncomfortable it makes the questioner. Maybe the more uncomfortable it makes him the better.

But again, I think this was a situation in which James is completely missing the forest for the trees and being a bit too cute in his answer. He had to know when he’s being asked that question that the host was referring to showering with boys in a sinister, untoward manner. When we speak of showering with boys and the Penn State scandal, we obviously cannot forget what we know. More to the point, what Paterno clearly knew as of 2002. That’s what James was being asked about and I think he decided to simply answer the question as if he was talking to a historian about the strange folkways of 1950s Kansas rather than a child rape scandal.

That’s really my criticism of James here. I don’t think he supports Sandusky at all or even Paterno to any serious degree as much as he finds it intellectually interesting to defend him. But I think his focusing on a couple of legalistic points misses the entire real point of the story, and the shower question is a microcosm of that.

100 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. infectorman - Jul 14, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Is this the old boy network in action or what? My GOD!!!! What is this man thinking??

    I am ashamed to be a Red Sox fan, to know that this piece of feces is cashing a check from the Old town team.
    Henry, Luchino, if you can do 1 thing right this year- which is a BIG if- please relieve this piece of SCUM from your employ, forthwith1

    • powercorrupts2 - Jul 15, 2012 at 2:05 AM

      He is thinking very clearly. And to Craig Calcaterra: Bill James is correct in his comments. He should be congratulated for having the cojones to go up against the power of the media, its predilection for exaggeration to gain attention and notoriety, and its preference for the “big fish” because it gets you more clicks, etc..
      The Freeh Report, as stated by the media, is a “prosecutor’s report”. It was paid for with millions of dollars by people who want protection from the media witch hunt. It is essentially an “ex parte” (from only one side) document that is full of opinions and interpretations. It does not prove “mens rea” (a guilty mind) in any of the people you are villifying in your article. The use of prejoratives and insults directed toward the accused or toward Bill James will not change these facts.
      I can also verify Bill James statement concerning same sex showering. In my boyhood I showered in open community showers with adult men. This includes at the swimming pools of two different Division 1A SEC universities. As an adult, the city in which I live currently has an open community shower where children and adults of the same sex shower together. But I have never seen or known of any Jerry Sandusky type activity at any of them.
      I know it is difficult, but please try to be fair and accurate in your sports news reporting.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 15, 2012 at 7:05 AM

        “As an adult, the city in which I live currently has an open community shower where children and adults of the same sex shower together. But I have never seen or known of any Jerry Sandusky type activity at any of them.”

        See, that’s the thing: Mike McQueary DID see “Jerry Sandusky-type activity” in them. He personally witnessed Sandusky anally raping a boy. And he told Paterno about it. And no one did jack shit about it for nearly a decade. That’s why whatever happened in James’ hometown or your hometown doesn’t matter.

        Paterno knew about that and didn’t act. He closely followed the 1998 investigation and then lied to the grand jury about it last year too. These are fact. They are not opinions. They are facts.

      • largebill - Jul 15, 2012 at 9:19 AM


        The issue is not whether open showers exist. We all have been to the YMCA or military bootcamp and other places where multiple showers are in one wide open room. Thing is 99.9% of us naturally and instinctively keep our eyes to ourselves (let alone other body parts), quickly rinse and get out of there.

      • makeham98 - Jul 15, 2012 at 9:23 AM

        McQueary might have been one of the worst witnesses or advocates for stopping Sandusky. He changed his story to the degree that his accusations led to one of the few acquittals in the case.

        I am also old enough to have been through “open” showers at the YMCA about 40 some years ago. The other kids and I thought it was creepy and kept our bathing suits on in the showers. No one needed to tell us otherwise.

      • theawesomersfranchise - Jul 15, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        Was 1998 40 years ago?
        How many times have you found 1 old man and 1 young boy all alone in those showers
        My god you’re a disgusting subhuman piece of filth

        I know it’s difficult but you and others like you are fools and an embarrassment to society as a whole

      • powercorrupts2 - Jul 15, 2012 at 6:23 PM

        To Craig Calcaterra:
        Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t think you have your “facts” straight.
        (1) It is not a provable “fact” that Mike McQueary “saw” the rape of a child.
        (2) Mike McQueary has changed his testimony of the event in 2001 several times and , therefore, is not a completely reliable witness. From his testimony, he “heard” noises which he later interpreted as sexual activity. He was apparently not convinced enough at the time of the incident to physically intervene to stop the activity and protect the child.
        (3) McQueary has never been given a physical (audiometric) test to see if he can distinguish the sounds of sexual activity in the shower from other activities.
        (4) Dr. Jonathan Dranov is a highly reputable physician. He graduated from college in Phi Beta Kappa and the premedical honor society, graduated from a prestigious Ivy League medical school, is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, etc., and is trained in and familiar with the mandatory reporting requirements for child molestation and abuse. He is not a football coach or a university administrator. Dr. Dranov heard McQueary’s story from him in close proximity to when the event occurred. Dr. Dranov did not report this to the police or child protection agencies and did not demand that McQueary do so. Therefore, he must not have felt that the information provided by McQueary met the threshold for this type of reporting.
        (5) The 1998 investigation was known by the police, the Centre County DA, and the child welfare agencies as well as by the current Governor of PA who was Pennsylvania DA at the time. The Governor is a current member of the Board of Trustees and his political appointees control a sizable portion of The Board. They are the ones who funded the Freeh Report. The above mentioned have as part of their job the protection of children from molestation. They were not football coaches or university administrators. They did not feel that there was sufficient evidence to bring charges against Sandusky.
        (6) If Paterno lied, why didn’t last year’s Grand Jury indict him as they did to Curley and Schultz?
        Personally I am glad that Sandusky was caught and convicted. It is a great tragedy that any child (or adult) has been subjected to such abuse. But I also think that we must exercise restraint in pointing the finger of responsibility at and damming people who may never have intended to have the outcome that occurred.
        “For those who would hunt monsters, be careful that in the process you do not also become a monster, for when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you” – Nietzsche
        Please refrain from using obscenities in your writing. It only diminishes it.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 15, 2012 at 6:33 PM

        So it is your position that the Freeh report’s conclusion — that the Penn State brass, including Joe Paterno, “failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized” is wrong. He just lied about that because … why again?

        That Freeh’s conclusion that Paterno and the Penn State brass “repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities, the University’s Board of Trustees, the Penn State community, and the public at large,” in “a callous and shocking disregard for child victims” is again, simply wrong. His investigation is wrong and your view to the contrary is right … why again?

        The report’s conclusion that “Mr. Paterno knew about and closely followed a 1998 investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Sandusky with a boy in a football locker room shower but failed to take action” is erroneous, you say? Why is that erroneous?

        The conclusions of the report — which contradict Paterno’s sworn testimony — is wrong, but Paterno is right? Despite the fact that Paterno had every reason to lie and Freeh has none? That’s your view.

        I do hope you base that on something other than your forensic skin-slapping expertise.

      • makeham98 - Jul 15, 2012 at 8:18 PM

        What are you ranting about? The number of stooges that post around here is amazing, the sanctimonious ignorant crowd can’t stay away.

        Have someone read this thread to you. No one – NO ONE – suggested that adults showering with kids is appropriate. My own experience was that my friends and I refused to disrobe in those situations and got out as fast as we could.

        How dumb are you? Try reading before you grandstand.

        What an idiot.

      • steveswisher1 - Jul 15, 2012 at 9:17 PM

        Great call, PowerCorrupts. I can just imagine the conversation:

        Mike McQueary: “Coach, I saw something really messed-up in the shower the other night. I saw Coach Sandusky raping a young boy.”
        Paterno: “Whoa. How did you know that was happening?”
        MM: “Well, I heard a slapping noise and I saw Sandusky behind the boy, who had his hands on the wall. Both were naked.”
        Paterno: “A-ha! You see, I am an expert in the acoustics of man-on-boy rape in the shower, and I know that this is not actually what you witnessed! On your way, McQueary!”
        MM: “But… but…”
        Paterno: “Begone!”

        Just in case you don’t get that, PowerCorrupts, that is a joke. And it’s at your expense. Because with your Olga Korbut-caliber gyrations to see the facts as you wish, your Latin legal quotes and references to Nietzsche, and your overall patronizing tone, you sound like a pretentious douchebag. (Oops, did I diminish my writing by using an “obscenity”? Tut tut! I hope your monocle didn’t fall out of your eye.)

        But wait — I must have this wrong. As I re-read your post, there is absolutely no conceivable way that you could cast doubt on Paterno’s culpability because McQueary didn’t take an audiometric test. I refuse to believe you have a functioning heart and think Mike McQueary didn’t see a boy being raped. There is no way that you think the most powerful man at that university — arguably in the state — couldn’t have done anything to prevent Sandusky from carrying out his molestations (which, as everyone seems to agree, Paterno knew were happening.)

        So… never mind. I get it now. You’re just being a troll. Good job! You win. Because if that’s not what you’re doing, then you have no soul whatsoever.

    • makeham98 - Jul 15, 2012 at 8:20 PM

      My post is directed to “theawesomersfranchise “, the awesomeidiot who can’t read.

      • bdawk20 - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:33 PM

        Let me simplify this for all of you:

        1) Paterno knew about the incident in ’98
        2) Despite what the writer here claims about ’98, Paterno did do everything he could have in ’98. This was an investigation STARTED by police and child welfare, not one started by Penn State as the Mom reported it to the proper authorities. Paterno kept in lockstep with the investigation.
        3) McQueery told Paterno he saw something of a SEXUAL nature (This is from Paterno himself) when reporting the 2001 incident
        4) Paterno, Schultz, Curley, and Spanier ultimately decided together to not go to the authorities with this, but keep this in-house
        5) Paterno trusted McQueery’s judgement enough to hire him as a coach on his football staff a few years later, eliminating any possibility that they did not take his claims seriously
        6) Paterno ultimately failed by not using ’98 as a major red flag for when McQueery reported about the incident in 2001.

        Summation: Paterno and Penn State should have cut ties with Sandusky AND reported him to the proper authorities. Paterno, McQueery, Schultz, Spanier, and Curley all let Sandusky roam free without reprimand with victims for the next 10 years on Penn State grounds, to and from away games, and with his charity the Second Mile. They all enabled him and did not protect those poor kids. This is why their legacies should and will be shattered.

      • powercorrupts2 - Jul 22, 2012 at 2:17 AM

        To Craig Calcaterra:
        My position is that the Freeh Report is: (1) An ex parte document (not an independent report) that was funded with millions of dollars by parties who have a conflict of interest in the case; (2) written in a prosecutorial fashion with no apparent concern for innocence; (3) criticizes the actions of people using a hindsight perspective that employs information none of them knew; (4) does not contain response by the accused parties (Spanier, Curley, Schultz, Paterno, etc.); (5) is written by someone who has a checkered history and may have a biased view of the case.
        You need to read the actual report (not just its recommendations/conclusions) and look at the details to see if they support the opinions expressed. Pretend you don’t know that Sandusky has 10 victims accusing him and has been convicted (Paterno didn’t know this in 1998 or 2001). Then see if you can fairly come to the same conclusions as Freeh wrote in his report. But it may not be possible for you to view the evidence without the biases that you seem to already have embedded in your thinking. See how it goes.
        The 1998 complaint was not for rape as you previously stated but for giving a bear hug to a boy in the showers. This was reported to the Police and investigated by a Police detective, the PA Department of Public Welfare in Harrisburg, the Centre County Child and Youth Services (CCYS), a CCYS counselor who interviewed the child and wrote a report, and the Centre County DA’s Office. These investigators were aware of a 1998 report by the boy’s State College child psychologist that suggested that Sandusky’s behavior was similar to that of a pedophile. So they were aware of and must have considered this possibility. But the conclusion of the investigation was: “no sexual assault occurred”. No charges were filed. Are you and Freeh maintaining that the investigators protected a pedophile because of “reverence for the football program”? They had no connection to the University except for the detective. He (Schaeffler) testified that he was not subject to influence in any way by the University or the football program. There is no law that states adults cannot shower with children. It is a practice that occurs in our society today. Giving a “bear hug” is another issue but this was investigated by the appropriate authorities.
        So you are saying that Paterno (a football coach, a layman, untrained in recognizing pedophiles) was supposed to do what about this report by the experts? Who was he supposed to call? The National Guard? The FBI (no jurisdiction). But the FBI Director, Freeh, was busy at the time (1998 -2001) with: (1) the 1997 manslaughter charge against the FBI sharpshooter he inappropriately sent to Ruby Ridge and who killed Vicki Weaver while she was holding her 10 month old child; (2) as a co-defendant in Zieger v. Metzinger (a Federal case) over FBI conduct in investigating a NYC film; (3) the 1999 Wen Ho Lee Los Alamos spy case Freeh was accused of bungling; (4) the case of Robert Hanssen , a Soviet spy/mole, found to have existed in the FBI for about 10 years of Freeh’s tenure; etc.. And Freeh’s opinions are highly regarded? In 1997 Freeh wrote to Attorney General Janet Reno: “It is difficult to imagine a more compelling situation for appointing an independent Counsel.” The Attorney General rejected his request. Freeh’s partner, Stanley Sporkin, served as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. And of course you know what that means he presided over. It wasn’t college football.
        Saying Paterno concealed the 1998 investigation is ludicrous. There is no document or witness that proves that Paterno concealed anything.
        Paterno lied? At the 2011 Grand Jury he was asked: “do you know…of any other (other than McQueary’s report) sexual conduct by Jerry Sandusky with young boys?” Paterno answered: “I do not know of it.” (Remember the 1998 conclusion was ‘no sexual assault occurred’) and “I don’t remember….” (This is normal for 85 years old and one year prior to death from oat cell carcinoma which usually metastasizes to the brain). The facts support Paterno. And what reason did he have to lie? Lying and cover ups were something he was not known for over the past 50 years. The same cannot be said about Freeh. Paterno testified to the Grand Jury but was not indicted.
        McQueary’s testimony by itself is not creditable enough to convict anyone of anything. (1)He changed what he said several times making it more incriminating after he knew there were 10 victims stating they were molested. His initial story was not “I saw Sandusky raping a child and something has to be done immediately!” His first story was of only hearing something and seeing a reflection in a mirror of Sandusky standing behind a child in the shower. (2)McQueary did not intervene to protect the child at the time of the incident. This suggests he didn’t actually see child rape. (3)A trained observer (Dr Dranov) heard McQueary’s story immediately after the event and he did not feel compelled to do anything. Being that Dr. Dranov is a very reputable and reliable person, it can be assumed he didn’t report it because he didn’t feel it crossed the threshold for reporting. Why did Freeh leave Dr. Dranov out of his investigation? Was it because his testimony and actions might conflict with Freeh’s preconceived conclusions? (4)The alleged victim never came forward to accuse Sandusky or testify as to what happened in the shower. (5) Paterno waiting from Saturday morning until Monday to report McQueary’s story is another indication that it wasn’t presented to him by McQueary as a child rape. (6) Notes of the child interview and a physical demonstration by the child to investigators in 1998: “Jerry hugged from back. Hands around abdomen and down to thighs. Picked him up.” This sounds similar to what McQueary described. The conclusion in 1998 was “no sexual assault occurred”. (7) McQueary did not call the Police. McQueary’s father who heard the story did not call the Police, etc. When 75 yo football coach, layman Paterno heard the story he told his superiors who included the Director of the Police. And Paterno is guilty of what? Freeh maintains that Schultz changed his plan of how to deal with McQueary’s story in 2001, after talking to Paterno. But there is no record of their conversation and Freeh has no testimony on this by either Schultz or Paterno. Is it not also possible that Paterno said to Schultz: “I don’t remember the details, but wasn’t the conclusion from the experts in 1998 ‘no sexual assault occurred’? Afterwards, Schultz notes the extensive investigation by authorities in 1998, the similarity of the McQueary story to the 1998 incident and that Sandusky had been investigated by appropriate authorities several times for foster care and adoption and approved. And then he changes his plan on what to do. There is no written proof, testimony or reference to a “desire to avoid bad publicity” discussion with Paterno. Paterno stated that the reason he did not pursue the McQueary incident was because “I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the University procedure was.”
        “Penn State brass and Paterno ‘failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized’”.
        From the 1998 investigation report there were no victims. In 2001 the evidence was at best ambiguous. There was no victim identified or accuser coming forward. This means you are suggesting that individuals untrained in recognizing pedophilia were supposed to accuse Sandusky of pedophilia when multiple investigations of him came up with nothing and there were no victims they could identify. What standard are you holding them to? Do you honestly think that these fathers of children would protect a person they knew was a pedophile? Jim Boeheim called a press conference specifically to call Bernie Fine’s accusers liars. Paterno never would have done that but you attack him and not Boeheim. Paterno could not have restricted Sandusky’s access to Penn State athletic facilities because the Penn State General Counsel stated the University could not legally take his keys.
        “repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky’s child abuse from the authorities,….”
        Freeh never proved this. Paterno never concealed anything. Spanier’s megalomania interfered with his relationship with the Board of Trustees but I don’t think this is necessarily unusual or that he purposely protected a pedophile.
        Freeh chastises Penn State for noncompliance with the Clery Act but admits that since his investigation began they have come into compliance. What percentage of US universities is in full compliance with the Clery Act? And it is the Senior VP-Business and finance that was responsible for Clery Act compliance and not the football coach. Freeh criticizes Penn State for “an excessive focus on athletics”. But Paterno championed a Classics Department, donated more than a million for a new library, raised money for academics and an endowment, created a football team with one of the highest graduation rates in Division 1A, etc. Maybe Freeh needs to examine what Title IX did for women in our society or why businesses have a preference for people who have experience in being team players.
        I hope that in the future you base your articles on objective investigation and avoid knee jerk condemnations and contributing to lynch mob psychology. Some people feel that there should be a Death Penalty for bad sports writing. Be careful you are not included in that discussion. Take an ethics in journalism course.
        Disclaimer: I’m not in any way connected to the Paterno family, Penn State or its administrators or football team.

  2. tombando - Jul 14, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Did Bill really say it was common for kids to shower w adults 40 years ago? Bill this makes your Manush is Cardenal comp look like Sheer Genius. Just Stop Herr James you are outta your league here and yer only digging it deeper.

  3. schmedley69 - Jul 14, 2012 at 9:11 PM

    I haven’t read any Bill James books in a good 15-20 years, but I used to read them as a kid because my Dad would buy them. I always thought that it was weird that in his scouting reports for players he would usually have a little blurb on how good looking the player was, or how popular that player was with the ladies, etc. I don’t know if he still does that or not, but I’ve always had this guy pegged as kind of a weirdo because of those “scouting reports.”

  4. Kevin S. - Jul 14, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    Completely agree with everything you say in your edit. I mean, I can answer the question “Do you shower with boys” with a ‘yes’ – the locker room at my school’s gym has an open shower block. There are a lot of kids’ swimming programs at the pool there, especially during the summer. Sometimes I’m ready to shower at the same time they are. I’m not entirely comfortable with the situation, but it’s not really the end of the world. But that’s not what was being asked in the interview. I knew that, which is why I didn’t play semantics answering that question. James should have known that, too. Instead, he decided to get cute with it.

  5. gugurich - Jul 14, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    I don’t know why Bill James would want to even wade into a subject with analysis as spotty as this but part of me wonders whether he’s also trying to support his good friend Posnanski whose upcoming book seems like it’s going to defend as well as condemn Paterno, in whatever measure.

  6. advantageschneider - Jul 14, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    Well the Red Sox have their own pedophile scandal too, so maybe the Red Sox have a soft spot for Pedophiles, I don’t know. There’s no other logical explanation.

    I own two Bill James books. I doubt I will be buying any more.

  7. thedistrictattorney - Jul 14, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Re: the update: Gottlieb did specify “… with a young man who they were not related to — was not their young son.” So, assuming James was listening to the question, you cn argue that he might have meant “fathers and sons”. (A picky point, since as Craig points out, even if James did mean fathers and sons, it would essentially be deliberately misunderstanding the question.)

    I think you could make a case that exculpates Paterno, if one of the following were true: A) Paterno was a typical college football coach rather than the God of State College, or B) Paterno was a senile old man who was too feeble to be able to exercise the power he used to have. And I think that’s essentially the case that James is trying to make. The problem is that neither A nor B is true. (And when people try to tell him that they are true, he doesn’t seem to believe them. If he doesn’t follow college football — I don’t know if he does — then I suppose A is not obvious to him, as it would be to any college football fan. I’m not quite sure how you prove A or B to a total skeptic, but they are true. 😉

    • Kevin S. - Jul 14, 2012 at 9:46 PM

      How about the emails demonstrating that Spanier, Curley and Schultz were ready to go to confront Sandusky and go to Child Services if necessary, only for Paterno to put the breaks on it?

      • thedistrictattorney - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM

        (BTW, second sentence of that first post should say “can’t” argue.)

        I also think Bill might be conflating “is” and “ought”. In other words, he distrusts the factual finding that the athletic director, police, etc. kowtowed to Paterno, because of his feeling that they shouldn’t have. Why should they have, after all? He’s not their boss! They didn’t have to! And of course, he’s right, they ideally would have told JoePa to f off… but, the reason they didn’t is because they knew that, in reality, Paterno was their boss. And Paterno knew it too.

    • nomahfan - Jul 15, 2012 at 7:07 PM

      I’d argue B. Doesn’t anyone remember the way we mocked Paterno for being a senile out of touch old man for the past decade, and now we’re going all Verbal Kint-was-actually-Keyser Sose? …or…,21120/ ..or..,22440/

      Just saying: our old narrative was wrong. Let’s not be so sure our new one is now perfect.

  8. yahmule - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Bill James can go to hell and shake Paterno’s hand when he gets there.

  9. royalsfaninfargo - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    I think Craig is being entirely too kind to James. If this was any other person related to baseball saying these things, say Peter Gammons or Ken Rosenthal (nothing bad meant on either of those, just examples) I believe this post would have been harsh beyond words. However, because this is Bill “effing” James he is holding back. Im not sure how anyone can justify what Mr. James said and I hope this incident knocks him off the podium he has been placed on the few decades.

    • yahmule - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:40 PM

      I agree completely. Or maybe Craig just “finds it intellectually interesting to defend him”.

      Craig, your first instincts here were correct. I’m sorry you felt the need to soften your initial response with that backpedaling update.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:44 PM

        I in no way backpeddled. The impression that I feared I was leaving — that I think James’ defense is rooted in him somehow being ok with man/boy showers — is nothing I at all that I believe he is saying. Based on some early comments, it appeared, however, that that was the takeaway.

        My update was designed to explain my actual thoughts: that James’ obtuseness and contrarian instincts here take him to dumb places. Not that I think James himself is some immoral person.

        Perhaps that later conclusion is one you’re happier with. If it is, make the argument yourself. I am under no obligation, however, to make arguments I don’t believe in simply because it’s more satisfying for some people.

      • yahmule - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:58 PM

        I’m not hung up on the whole bizarre showering comments between James and the interviewer. I just don’t understand how you can say James isn’t supporting “Paterno to any serious degree” when he’s clearly going out of his way to offer weak excuses for the man. Blaming the media for the “smokescreen behind which Sandusky operated” is pathetic beyond words and James lost any remaining shred of respect I had for him at that point.

    • royalsfaninfargo - Jul 14, 2012 at 11:22 PM

      I wasnt referring to James “showering” comment in particular, but his overall defense of Paterno in general.

      • infectorman - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Can someone explain just what the hell showering with boys 40-50 years ago in the Midwest has to do with any of this? Not buying it for a nanosecond.
        It is as irrelevant to this conversation as the recent advances in Hubble Telescope technology

        Equally surprised to hear the lax attitude toward community showers ” in the city” he lives in.
        If you let your child even enter one these perverted arena’s then you’re a woefully inept parent, and require immediate enlistment on the “shouldn’t be able to procreate” list.
        Take a look at the sex-offender list and the number of adults of all walks of life being brought up on sex-abuse charges.
        IT IS EVERYWHERE. Just what the f*ck are these people smokin?

  10. nobody78 - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    “But again, I think this was a situation in which James is completely missing the forest for the trees and being a bit too cute in his answer. He had to know when he’s being asked that question that the host was referring to showering with boys in a sinister, untoward manner. When we speak of showering with boys and the Penn State scandal, we obviously cannot forget what we know. More to the point, what Paterno clearly knew as of 2002. That’s what James was being asked about and I think he decided to simply answer the question as if he was talking to a historian about the strange folkways of 1950s Kansas rather than a child rape scandal.”

    The point James was making was that simply showering in the same room as a boy would not necessarily be interpreted by Paterno as anything sinister. He’s not answering as a “historian,” he’s stating a fact relevant to interpreting Paterno’s actions. Either he’s right or he’s wrong, but he’s not off topic.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 14, 2012 at 10:56 PM

      Well, in that case it’s worse for James. Because Paterno knew for a fact that his assistant saw Sandusky actually raping a boy in the shower. If James is aware of that and is still playing the “Paterno might have thought it was ok” game, he’s bonkers. If he’s unaware of that, he has no business opining on all of this in the manner he’s doing.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM

        If James actually read the Freeh report as he’s claimed, he’d have known that. And now Neyer’s defending him with “if you haven’t read the Freeh report, you can’t criticize him.” Wrong. If you watched the press conference, you’d have to assume that Freeh severely distorted his study’s findings to not criticize James here.

  11. giantssb42champs - Jul 15, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    Bill James is a sociopath.

  12. bryanks1 - Jul 15, 2012 at 1:12 AM

    quote from this article “Paterno chose not to act”. my question is why isnt anybody saying that about the district attorney Ray Gricar, that is now missing and declared dead, and the local children and youth. they were in an adjacent room when sandusky admitted to what he did to the momther of one child and THEY CHOSE NOT TO DO ANYTHING. if they acted and did their jobs we would not be having this discussion right now. so what does everyone do, lets blame the most famous one out of all of them and make him the scape goat. it should have never gotten that far. people need to get their facts straight before they start writing about stuff and blaming people with out doing their homework. oh wait we are talking about the media, anything for a story and bigger the name the better the story

  13. banggbiskit - Jul 15, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    I wouldnt read too much into a contrarian’s way of thinking. Some people feel that the general public are a ‘bunch of idiots’ and if you agree with them, you must be an idiot too. James, feeling he’s NOT an idiot, had only one way to go on this issue. This is just James being James, don’t take it personally, he’s just disagreeing with everyone to be different.

    • Spencer - Jul 15, 2012 at 3:28 PM

      This is probably true, but it doesn’t make it any better or paint James in a better light. In fact, I think it would make him look worse.

  14. fockers2009 - Jul 15, 2012 at 9:00 AM


  15. ermur22 - Jul 15, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Everyone involved should be dammed ashamed. Penn St should not have a sports program anymore. Everyone knew what was going on..the coaches, the administration etc…no one cares about the victims…they will ALL rot in hell

  16. omniusprime - Jul 15, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Bill James is just as bad as Sandusky and Paterno. Anyone who defends Sicko Joepa has some serious morality issues, as in not having any morals whatsoever. I’m not quite as old as Bill but I do not remember men and boys showering together 40 years ago, it sure as hell was not common. I sure as heck wouldn’t trust Bill James with young children, especially in the showers.

    Craig – your original ending was perfect, your update to “soften” the blow against Bill James was a big mistake. Anyone who tries to defend JoePa or Pedophile State are just as guilty as the PSU executive crowd who were more interested in protecting PSU’s football program and coaches over children. No need to soften the blows for that crowd.

    NCAA Give Penn State the Death Penalty!

    • Kevin S. - Jul 15, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      Alright, let’s not get carried away. Bill James is wrong. Incredibly wrong. But raping young boys, and covering up/enabling the continuing rape of young boys, is orders of magnitude worse than ignoring the facts in defending the man who covered up and enabled the rapes to continue. Nothing Bill James says will allow another boy to be raped.

      Also, Penn State won’t get the death penalty. The NCAA is a wage-fixing cartel, and the death penalty is its biggest weapon for enforcing that wage fixing. Nothing Penn State did involved players getting extra benefits, so the NCAA won’t act here.

      • mrfloydpink - Jul 15, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        I’ve agreed with your posts, Kevin, but I would disagree with you on two points here:

        1. By defending Paterno, in any way, Bill James could indeed be enabling the next guy. Or, at least, deterring the next kid from reporting abuse. If ANYONE outside the “Penn State family” should be sensitive to this, and should keep their fucking mouths shut, it is a Red Sox executive (given the team’s own pedophile abuse history).

        2. I think that the NCAA might have no choice but to hammer Penn State, just because they don’t want to appear to be what they are–a wage-fixing cartel. If systematic coverup of child rape is not a “lack of institutional control” then the phrase will effectively be meaningless to the general public, and the credibility of the NCAA could be permanently ruined.

      • losgatosca - Jul 15, 2012 at 8:01 PM

        When ESPN (Rick Reilly) and Bob Costas think the death penalty is warranted it’s going to be hard for the NCAA to do otherwise. The MS-Sports-M is clearly thinking it’s warranted.

        Otherwise, they are just like the conspirators at Penn State, putting their personal interests ahead of justice for a tainted program run by pedophile enablers.

        If Penn State does not get some dramatic sanctions the criticism will begin adding the NCAA to the list of bad actors.

  17. wgward - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    This guy needs to retire. Period.

  18. largebill - Jul 15, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    The weirdest thing about James’ inserting himself in this story is how it is such an unforced error. James field of commentary/study is baseball. Paterno has (AFAIK) nothing to do with baseball. James had no reason to weigh in on the Freeh report or any part of this sordid mess. I’m sure anyone (particularly lawyers) who reads the entire report and the trial transcripts would have find minor inconsistencies or things that don’t add up. Most of us would chalk that up to the fact that human memories are not perfect. Most of us realize there is nothing to be gained by nit-picking the report. James should be smart enough to know how strongly people feel about this subject and that any defense of Paterno would bring out the long knives anywhere outside Happy Valley. Just a stupid and unnecessary error in judgment.

  19. theawesomersfranchise - Jul 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    What an embarrassment that the Red Sox have not fired this stupid smart guy.

  20. theawesomersfranchise - Jul 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Bill James who didn’t know Joe Pa personally…. at all
    Bill James who did ZERO investigation who had access to ZERO evidence
    Is thinking he is so smart that he can read peoples minds and is a criminal and sociological genius.
    You would think he was part of Joe Pa’s inner circle by the way he talks, but he wasn’t.

    He most definitely is a socio-path

    • infectorman - Jul 15, 2012 at 3:41 PM

      Wonder if Bill James has children?

      • thedistrictattorney - Jul 16, 2012 at 2:15 AM

        He has two sons and a daughter. They are all young adults by now.

  21. Jonny 5 - Jul 15, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    More proof that smart people can be stupid.

  22. dannythebisforbeast - Jul 15, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    If its a fact that mcqueary saw a boy bein raped and told paterno that fact. but for some reason that is the ONLY Charge that Sandusky was found innocent on

  23. calhounite - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    Sandusky made it clear to Paterno they were joined at the hip. If Sandusky went down, so would Paterno. Paterno did act. In fact, he did EVERYTHING. Paterno built Sandusky’s gingerbread house so the old warlock could eat all the kids he wanted. Land given. Full access given. Money given. AND posted the guards. Paterno was Sandusky’s protector and facilitator.

    The full extent of the depths of this abyss of deviltry may never be known. Paterno’s total control pervaded the entire stankhole, the police, the businesses, the whole area. Perverted toward one single, overriding goal. To concoct an image of the diametric opposite of reality for the purpose of thievery and kingdom building.

    The ONLY thing done about the 2001 incident iwas that SANDUSKY was INFORMED that he had been ratted out, and they didn’t want the kid’s name – just take care of it. DA missing and now so’s that kid. Sandusky’s too stupid to provide his own hitman, and too gutless to do it himself. So who did Paterno hire? McQuery alive only after he took a job Paterno had said previously didn’t exist?

    Look, given that the sole and only purpose of this Paterno ran stankhole was too steal through imagery, and that image had to be protected at all costs, then what is rank speculation today may turn into fact tommorrow.

  24. jfk69 - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:10 AM

    Bill James
    Most of these children had no parents.
    If my 11 YEAR OLD son came home and told me you showered with him and you lathered and soaped him up… alone no less . Guess what pal… I am coming for YOU!
    If your buddy Joe Pa gets in my way…I will show you what is going to happen to you. Then i will sit down…smoke a cigarette and call the police and my lawyer. SO BE IT!

  25. jfk69 - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:52 AM

    This is nothing new.
    A generation ago we had Covenant House with pedophile priest and master fund raiser Father Ritter. The Churches and Francescans heard the rumors for years and did nothing. Why not you may ask?
    Father Ritter has amassed a who’s who of corporation donors in NYC. Of course when finally it could no longer finally be covered up Ritters new pals and partners felt very bad. They forgave him after ten Hail Marys and went then asked not to forget the donation plate on the way out the door. We still have much work to do.

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