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Why it’s worth calling out idiots like Skip Bayless

Aug 23, 2012, 12:36 PM EDT

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In the wake of the Skip Bayless/Derek Jeter nonsense this morning an age-old complaint has arose on Twitter and in the comments among a lot of people I respect.  It basically goes like this: “Why pay any attention to what Skip Bayless says? You’re just giving him attention and that’s what he wants.”

Yes. It is. It’s a valid point, too, and one that is hard to dismiss. But, as I’ve written before, I don’t care. I still think that it’s worth calling out idiocy for idiocy’s sake.

Ignoring Skip Bayless is not going to do a thing. His ratings are his ratings and they’re not going to be impacted by a small minority of people like those of us around here refusing to watch him or tune in. That’s because there are already huge, huge numbers of people who tune into that noise. Who nod their head and say “go, Skip, go!”  The traffic I send his way when I criticize him is negligible. He is going to get his ratings and have his job as long as he doesn’t find himself in some sort of personal scandal or something. Just ask Jay Mariotti about how that works.

So why bother at all? At the risk of sounding super naive, I simply don’t believe that ignorance and idiocy are best combated by silence. People generally take silence as tacit approval. And, because this is sports and not something truly important like life, death, work and the like, people are willing to just float along with that ignorance and idiocy and not think too critically about it unless they really feel a need to do so.

I don’t presume to influence a lot of people — and like I said, I don’t think a handful of smart folks can sink the mighty Skip Bayless — but I do know from my own experience that I am more likely to question certain things — especially things that aren’t at the forefront of my life — if I am given a reason to question it. If I hear someone else point out something I haven’t thought of before. I like to think that if I do that for stupidity like that peddled by Bayless, a few people may question why they consume that garbage.

And that’s all I want. A few people. A few people who maybe didn’t realize how dumb Skip Bayless is to stop and realize how dumb Skip Bayless is. And for them to peel away from that crap and hang out here. Or to go read Joe Sheehan’s newsletter or Jay Jaffe at Sports Illustrated or Rob Neyer at SB Nation or to watch Brian Kenny on “Clubhouse Confidential” or any of the many other smarter outlets there are for baseball discussion. A few of those folks abandoning Bayless won’t hurt him much because of his size and he’s still gonna do what he’s gonna do.  But a few thousand fans changing their mind about him will mean a lot to the smaller, smarter communities out there.

And the end of that is not just to raise our traffic here or to see Brian Kenny’s ratings increase. The end of it is that there will be more smarter, better informed fans out there. And that’s a benefit to everyone. Because whether I was doing this for a living or schlepping interrogatories at some litigation factory, I’m still gonna talk about baseball with people. And my life in that regard is way better if I’m talking to smart people. And almost all of the smart people I’ve already met got that way about baseball because, at some point, someone hipped them to the notion that [massively popular expert X] may not have a monopoly on wisdom.

Calling out Skip Bayless may be hopeless, but only if your hopes in doing so are to get rid of Skip Bayless.  If your goals are more modest and all you want to do is to improve things around the edges, then there is a point to tilting at that large, dumb and seemingly impenetrable windmill.

  1. baseballintegrity - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    This is the second blog by Mr. Calcaterra deflecting the real core of this problem. In light of all we now know about PED use, questioning the integrity and use of ANY MLB player is not only okay but should be mandatory. Derek Jeter’s profile certainly aligns perfectly with the profile of a PED user. There is no question about that. The real question should be how many times has he been tested and when?

    Until MLB decides that it really wants to end PED use by implementing the penalties and protocols that will do that, every player who plays the game must be questioned. The question is, do we really want to or care to remove PEDs from the game? If we do, implement more stringent rules and penalties, if not, then open up the sport to it. The same media people who stood silent during the “steroid era”, languishing praise and sycophantery on the like of Sosa and McGuire, who now vilify them, are doing just as Mr. Calcaterra is doing here. They are shills for Mr. Selig and his Band of BSers.

    First and foremost, contracts of players who failed a test must be allowed to be voided by the team.In any other performance field contract this would be a given. As an example, if the Giants had signed Melky Cabrera to a $100,000,000 7-year contract just a few days before his failed test was revealed, they would be on the hook for seven years minus 50 games. That comes to over $95 million. Think about that. Melky would still be entitled to over $95 million. Who wouldn’t take that risk? It not only gives the player incentive to use but gives the team incentive to secure their investment by wanting him to maintain at whatever risk.

    The most technologically state-of-the-art testing must be implemented. CIR testing is available. use it for screening on all tests. The facts that are coming out about about the testing, allowable levels, frequency of tests, is appalling and an insult to the intelligence of the general public.

    The stock answer given by most media to brush off these requests are that the union is too strong and would never go for it. That of course, is hogwash. If the “clean” players, such as Jeter, are so committed to a clean sport, then implement stronger protocols. The union represents the players, it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) control them. There is a reason that there hasn’t been a strike since 1994. It’s a wink-wink, good ole boy philosophy. Selig’s KISSWAMM philosophy has everyone happy. The owners are making more money than they ever have. The players are making more than they ever dreamed of. The media writers are raking it in and have achieved cult status with their blogs and Twitter accounts. The networks have a live stream gold mine.

    The same writers who stand silent now and print articles like this one, the same writers who from one side of their mouths decry the validation of all the “steroid era” numbers and statistics and spew their BS and poison about the players of that “era”, are the same ones who are invalidating every moment we watch now through their silence and disingenuous articles.

    Mr. Calcaterra, speak out. Get some integrity. Maybe it is you and your ilk who need to start using synthetic testosterone to grow a pair. After all, there is no testing in “journalism”. Or sadly, is there any real journalism left?

    • natslady - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:20 PM

      Clap-clap! I don’t know or care who Skip Bayless is, or if Craig is having a spat with him. If Bayless is making Joe McCarthy-type accusations, fine, call him out on them. Question his integrity, whatever…

      But Skip Bayless is not the issue, to me. The question is, do we have any assurance that when a player has a better than expected season it’s because of hard work, luck, and talent? Answer, no, we don’t.

      The Nats are having a great season, they are going to win 10-15 more games than expected. Talk about outliers! It’s fun, it’s exciting, and I’m nearly bankrupt from buying playoff tickets and Nats gear. Why do I have to wonder–and I do wonder–if some of those cheating players are on my team?

      • raysfan1 - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:45 AM

        I see no reason to waste your time wondering if anyone on your team or any other cheats by using PEDs. It’s of course possible. It’s possible of everyone. However, we are clearly no longer in a hitters’ era, which many presume to be due to the testing program actually deterring use of steroids. One can argue that more testing should be done or that penalties should be stronger. Nhowever, it’s pretty clear there is less use of steroids now than previously. The monetary incentive to try to cheat is of course huge, but most players are also smart enough to see that Melky Cabrera just blew maybe $40M and Bartolo Colon may have blown any shot at another big league pay check.

        Campaign for more testing if you like, and campaign for stiffer penalties if you like. But don’t diminish your enjoyment of your team’s remarkable season by wasting time conjecturing about whether one of your guys might disgrace himself.

    • lovistemiami - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      What on earth are you talking about? Did you even read the article? It has absolutely nothing to do with the use of PEDs in Baseball, and everything to do with Shit Bayless’s unfounded comments. More importantly, the fact that his schtick is entirely based on the repeated use of inflammatory comments in order to garner attention. Derek Jeter’s use of PEDs is merely a variable here.

      Also, don’t be a troll.

      • natslady - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:31 PM

        Yes, I read the article. And I approve of Craig calling out people who make unfounded and inflammatory statements. Fine. But the ratio of electrons spent on Bayless to electrons spent on the ACTUAL ISSUE is way out of balance. That’s what the OP is saying.

      • natslady - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        Here’s the problem. It’s fine if Craig wants to clean up his profession (good luck with that) and point us to more responsible sports commentators. Much appreciated.

        But we are here to be baseball fans. What we want is BASEBALL to be cleaned up. You can go and listen to other people besides Bayless. But that choice is not open to me if I want to be a baseball fan–even if I were to root for a different team, how do I know that team isn’t cheating. And that’s sad.

    • heyblueyoustink - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      Wow, that was alot of words.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      If you substituted “communism” for “steroid use” in your post it would have been perfect McCarthyism.

      There were communists in the US government in the 50s. That does not mean that it’s acceptable to assume every government employee was a communist and to hurl accusations of same. The same goes for performance enhancing drugs.

      • anxovies - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        I agree, Craig. I COULD be cheating on my wife with my 16 year old babysitter because I recently bought a new wardrobe and am working out (for the record my wife split years ago and my kid is 32 years old). The fact that the speculation is done on a national forum by a person who carries the public trust and involves an illegal or immoral act makes it especially harmful to both the subject’s personal reputation and to the forum in which the unfounded speculation is made. Congress and legislators were never viewed as having the same integrity after McCarthy and after years of irresponsible journalism and sensationalism, the public trust in the media has also eroded. Bayless’ brother is a TV chef. Maybe he should cook up a bit of integrity for the guy. What a reckless and irresponsible thing to to say where, as he admits, there is no evidence whatsoever. Either ESPN is flailing around for ratings or Bayless is desperate for something new to say. You expect this kind of stuff out of Nancy Grace or TMZ, but a sports show?

      • natslady - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:56 PM

        Excuse me, it’s not comparable. Joe McCarthy was a Senator, he was elected by the people of his state, like it or not. And, like it or not, it was post WWII, and it there was a legitimate fear of communist takeover. I lived in the 1950′s, you had fire drills and hid under your desk and had nightmares about atom bombs, and froze if you heard an airplane at night. I’m not defending McCarthy or his methods IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM. But to compare the OP with McCarthy is just nonsense. McCarthy had real power. And that real power came from fear.

        Every one of us can walk away from Skip Bayless. People could not walk away from McCarthy, it was one million times worse for people who lost their jobs than whether a multi-millionaire like Jeter should be tested for PEDs. You need to dial back the drama, Craig. This should not be McCarthyism, it should be a legitimate conversation about serious problems in the game we all love.

      • natslady - Aug 23, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        It seems to me the poster is exact opposite of McCarthyism. He is calling out the establishment. In the 1950s the establishment was with McCarthy, like it or not. He wasn’t some fringe “yellow” journalist–although he was supported by plenty of those. McCarthy was operating in an atmosphere that he partially, but did not entirely, create. The establishment had the exact same goal as he did, eliminating the communist threat, which all perceived as very real. His methods were extreme and despicable, and eventually the establishment threw him out, but they threw him out because of his methods not his goals.

        It’s fine to despise McCarthy and his methods. We all do. And if you have a free press, then eventually, we hope, it will spit on McCarthy and his methods and Bayless and his. But the problem is, what about the establishment? And that is what the poster is asking. He is not hurling accusations of PEDs on every player. He is saying, is the establishment protecting its own interests at the expense of the integrity of the game? That is a legitimate question to ask, and you should not smear him with “McCarthyism” for asking it. It is not the case, Mr. Calcaterra, that anyone who disagrees with you or what you post or how often you post on a particular subject rather than another subject is a fool or a McCarthyite.

        Yes, that was a long sentence….

      • natslady - Aug 23, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        anxovies–can’t quite tell which side you are arguing here, but if you are saying that a skepticism about the workings of Congress is a good thing, you are right. I think there are some members of Congress who are not richer for being there–just not a lot of them. I don’t know if the disrepute of Congress is a result of McCarthy, though. More probably a result of disreputable people being in Congress.

        LOL on the last sentence! Sometimes we take our sports entirely too seriously.

      • tuftsb - Aug 23, 2012 at 7:59 PM

        Craig – the phrase should be “illegal and/or banned performance enhancing drugs”!

  2. Rich Stowe - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    when I wrote about baseball for the sites I did in the past, a good portion of my articles where “calling out” guys like Skip Bayless and Jon Heyman for their poor observations, hypocritical thoughts etc and some of my friends asked the same thing – why bother writing about those idiots? may answer was the same as Craig’s – because someone has to if only to ensure someone new to baseball doesn’t get sucked in to their way of thinking – too many smart baseball people get turned around to their way of thinking and the next thing you know, a smart baseball fan is now just another “ESPN fact” spewing idiot

  3. metalhead65 - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    I find it amusing that you are sticking up for the guy you were burying last season Craig. remember how you were writing what seemed like hourly columns about how he was the worst shortstop ever and way past his prime and making fun of me for asking you to get over it. a year later he is putting up great numbers and not a negative comment about him from you. then some loud mouth on tv says he might be using and you get all self rightous about it. he is just giving his opinion and most people whether they like the yankees or not and I don’t are not going to buy what he says about a class act like jeter.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:31 AM

      Your memory is faulty.

      “(Derek Jeter) will and should be a first ballot hall of famer and stands among the best ever…” Craig Calcaterra, Jun 13, 2011. Not exactly calling him the worst shortstop ever. He has pointed that there are people who overrate him. He has also pointed out that there are people who underrate him.

  4. theboysofdallas - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Right on

  5. Steve A - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    I’m short on time and haven’t read every comment, so I apologize if this has already been said.

    My problem with this issue is that Skip Bayless makes these comments without any intelligent discourse behind them. He’s purposely saying this stuff knowing that what he’s saying is inflammatory. Yes, he could be right, but he should also tell us why he could be right. Unfortunately, a show revolving around quick hit opinions by him doesn’t allow for much discourse. Blame Bayless or blame ESPN, but either way, it’s irresponsible.

  6. yahmule - Aug 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Great post, Craig, and a prime example of why I choose to spend a portion of my free time reading and participating in this blog.

  7. Stiller43 - Aug 23, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    “I still think that it’s worth calling out idiocy for idiocy’s sake.”

    If you do something for idiocy’s sake, doesn’t that mean you’re an idiot?

  8. suhisabeast90 - Aug 23, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Craig is a tool and a Buffoon. Bayless is ignorant and pompous.

    I choose not to listen to either.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:22 AM

      Liar. Obviously you do, or would not read this blog and post comments on it, troll.

  9. suhisabeast90 - Aug 23, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Is Bayless not committing slander? If so should their not be some sort of recourse for his actions? You can’t just accuse someone of wrong doing without some sort of evidence. ESPN needs a bigger muzzel, or he will cost them millions.

  10. sheanjett - Aug 23, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    I’m anti Yankee but skip brainless is the biggest idiot.. Espn should be embarrassed to sign his pay checks

  11. ningenito78 - Aug 23, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Great points Craig.

  12. timpaz - Aug 23, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    This guy is the Steven Smith of baseball,, nuff said.

  13. itsonlyaspeedbump - Aug 23, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Craig, I would be in the group of people who would have said ‘why don’t you just ignore the guy?’ I understand your point, and I think it is laudable ideal. Unfortunately, I would say that many people watch Skip not because they agree with him, but because they find his idiocy funny. We tend to do that with a lot of things (i.e people keep paying Will Farrell to play the same part in their movies)

    And I disagree that sports isn’t “truly important.” I would say that it SHOULDN’T be truly important. But people spend thousands of dollars and hours on consuming sports, time and money that often is taken at the expense of their work or family relationships. People lie and cheat and hurt others to be associated with a team or sporting event.

    As much as we hate to admit it, sports in this country have become far more than a passing diversion.

  14. ddjjddjj - Aug 23, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Got to admit that Skip plays a good bad guy.

  15. opshuns - Aug 23, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    How is Bayless any different than Berman or any of the rest of the girls??? Continual B.S. and ESPN will pay for it in the long run. Just let some other 24 hours of sports show come to TV?

  16. daspyknows - Aug 23, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    I’ve always referred to him as Skippy the dipspit since using an h instead of the p will get me blocked. The jerkoff was a reporter in the SF bay Area years ago and when he left we all celebrated. Skippy and his life partner Jim Rome should both be hung from the top of the new World Trade Center tower and dropped.

  17. thecrabcakestate - Aug 23, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    Nothing new here. I listen for laughs and that’s about it. Suggs was right when he basically called him a douche

  18. garryjercia - Aug 24, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    There goes your Armstrong theory PhillyChris

  19. randmwa - Aug 24, 2012 at 1:27 AM

    Craig, you are dead on. This isn’t about facts, theories, assumptions, rumors, or whatever you want to call it. This is about an individual who’s biggest concern is his own ratings/ego/paycheck/15 minutes of fame. Skip is the Napoleon of “talk tv”. He’s the same person who insinuated that Troy Aikman was gay. Why, not because of facts but because it fit his itinerary. That itinerary has now given him a national audience to espouse rumors that help him regardless of the facts. Ignorance isn’t bliss, ignorance is Skip.

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