The one thing I always wanted to write, once I realized that I was a writer in my early teens, was a critical sports column. I never saw a columnist who wrote criticisms of sports or teams or players or managers or coaches as a matter of course.
So when I got the opportunity to write such a column for The Tolucan Times, I was thrilled. I’ve been writing it for several years now, and feel it is time to move on.
While I’ve been writing it, readers have learned many things from me of which nobody else wrote. Here are a very few examples of many:
I was the first person, and apparently the only one, to realize that Justin Turner was the best hitter on the Dodgers in 2014 and I wrote about it almost endlessly that year. Alas, the Dodgers’-then manager, clueless Don Mattingly, never realized it. Even in the playoffs Turner only got two pinch hit at bats, languishing on the bench despite his .340 batting average. Not playing Turner undoubtedly cost the Dodgers the series as they lost three games to the Cardinals by a total of four runs.
I was the only person to question the ability of Dodgers’ pitcher Yu Darvish, which I did in a column in August 28, 2017, saying that while all the talking heads felt that the Dodgers got a lot while giving up nothing, after watching Darvish pitch it appeared to me that the Dodgers traded nothing and got nothing in return. Apparently what was evident to me wasn’t to Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts because he started Darvish over Clayton Kershaw in the 7th game of the World Series and that, too, cost them the World Series as Darvish predictably bombed and was discarded in the offseason.
Everybody fawned over Mike Trout being named MVP in 2014. I was the only person to point out that not only did Trout not have an MVP year, he shouldn’t have even been considered as MVP, batting only .263 in the last half of the year, ending with his worst year on record with a strikeout average of .305, higher than his meager .287 batting average. It was an injudicious, callous decision, belatedly rewarding Trout for not being MVP the two prior years when he did deserve it, and in the process being unfair to players who were far more worthy in 2014.
And that’s just scratching the surface on baseball! I don’t have space to list all the problems I pointed out in baseball and other sports. I have been literally a voice crying in the wilderness.
The simple fact is that today’s sports aren’t the sports that I grew up loving. I can no longer tolerate watching Roberts mismanage the Dodgers’ pitching, and haven’t watched a game this year all the way through.
Sports used to be a retreat, a haven from what’s going on in the world. No more. Now uninformed, poorly educated athletes who make millions of dollars a year playing their games foist their one-dimensional, shallow political views on the public. I had no idea what the politics of Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax were and didn’t care. Athletes like Bill Bradley and Byron “Whizzer” White, who had the intellectual gravitas to form reasoned opinions, never forced them on their fans when they were competing.
Today’s athletes have their right to their opinions and they have the right to embarrass themselves by preaching their simplistic views to the world. Similarly, fans have the right to not watch them play their games, which is what I’m doing. I can’t watch LeBron James and Steph Curry play basketball and enjoy it when they insist on propagating their naïve thoughts to the world at large. I could watch them play if they kept their social and political positions to themselves. But when they take them public, I tune out.
I’ve been watching the NFL since 1950, but I’ve had it with the multi-millionaire NFL players who disparage the flag under which 400,000 white Union soldiers gave their lives and a million more suffered serious, debilitating injuries to free the black slaves. I’ve been a subscriber to NFL Sunday Ticket ever since it was inaugurated two decades ago. Include me out from now on. I’m not renewing or spending a dime on the NFL.
The bottom line is that my interest in what sports has become has deteriorated substantially, so I will no longer write my column regularly.
I want to thank The Tolucan Times and publisher Mardi Rustam for giving me the opportunity to write the column of which I always dreamed. It’s been a blast.
Tony Medley is the author of three books including “UCLA Basketball: The Real Story,” the first book written on UCLA basketball. Visit TonyMedley.com.