The Pundit Tree is back for its second week so it’s officially outlasted Barstool Van Talk. Every post is a blessing …
The third-rail topic of the day is the Chicago Cubs banning the fan who made this hand gesture behind NBC Sports analyst Doug Glanville from Wrigley Field forever.
General manager Theo Epstein ended a day of speculation with the news during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. The debate, of course, is what the intention behind this hand sign was intended to be. Was it an overt act of white supremacy or a harmless and immature implementation of The Circle Game?
Yesterday I wrote that it’s impossible to know what the motivations were without further information. And here, a day later, it feels as though we don’t have much guidance from the team.
Hours into the Cubs’ investigation, Crane Kenney went on 670 The Score. He was asked if social media aided in that inquiry.
“This is one of the places social media was our friend,” he said. “We hadn’t seen it and to be honest even if I had seen it on the screen I wouldn’t have recognized what it meant and then it was called to our intention by some viewers and after some research we verified it is used in the wrong way by some misguided people. Whether this person is going to ultimately say he intended it, that he was playing the circle game or some other stunt, the judgment to use that in connection with a respected reporter who happens to be African-American doing his job — and we love Doug and he does an amazing job for all of us — that connection … coincidence is not going to fly here.”
What I still don’t understand and am not afraid to admit I don’t understand is if this means the team found this fan’s social media accounts and used them to inform their decision. This would seem an obvious step, one essential to any fair look into the incident. Absent that information, it’s very difficult to fully trust the Cubs.
To be fair, it would be irresponsible for anyone with the organization to dox this person. And perhaps alluding to questionable content on his Twitter or Facebook accounts would inspire someone else to do it. So the Cubs are in a difficult spot here.
With that said, though, it’s a challenge to report on this story with full confidence. No one wants to trivialize the seriousness of this issue and no one wants to cape up for racist actions. The current news environment is not exactly skewed toward waiting for all the facts before coming down on a side.
It was interesting reading the responses I received for even leaving the door open that this guy was playing the Circle Game. Multiple people suggested the blog post was written while wearing a white hood.
With that in mind, it was interesting to see Will Cain dive into the topic on his show yesterday afternoon (26-minute mark here). He brought up a pertinent point, asking how many people were familiar with this gesture and its negative connotations before this incident? It’s one I had as well, and I don’t know the answer.
Cain also explained why he thought it was important to give his opinion, knowing full well the way it could be received, and it’s illuminating.
“I don’t do things because I’m concerned how people will paint it, how they’ll spin it, or what they’ll say about me,” he said. “I do things because whether I think it’s right or wrong. You make the point that the Cubs can kick anybody out. The question is: is it righteous, is it just? And for somebody to get kicked out for being immature and making a Circle Game appearance would be unjust. It’s worth somebody else spinning what I say and distorting me to push back on that injustice.”
One final thought on this that’s largely been unmentioned. The Cubs’ move to digital-only ticketing means they’re privy to more information about ticket-holders than they’ve had in the past. There’s really no way to understand the scope of information they had in making this call and one wonders if we’ll ever have the full picture.
UPDATE: On Thursday’s show, Cain said he reached out the Cubs and was told no evidence from the fan’s social media profiles was used in making the decision, nor were they able to speak with the person in question. It appears clear they have no interest in hearing his side of the story. That side could, of course, be flimsy, but it’s pretty surprising that the team would close up shop before engaging.
A Master-ful Move?
Tony Romo is arguably the best football commentator in the world. And it may be his second-favorite sport. The golf enthusiast worked a tournament for CBS in 2017, but is apparently not a part of the network’s future coverage.[/caption]
“Nothing in our current plans,” CBS Sports president Sean McManus told The Big Lead. “Tony is the best analyst in NFL football and we’re going to keep him focused on that for the time being so I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
Allow me to read between the lines here. Romo, who is in the last year of his contract, is as hot a commodity as they come. His services will be lusted after by every company with a microphone. He seems to have CBS over the fire and is expected to garner a $10 million/annual salary (or at least damn close).
What can they do for leverage? Well, offer the Masters and PGA Championship as a carrot. An incentive to stay.
Fox, which has the U.S. Open, can’t quite match that. NBC is better suited with the Golf Channel, but is unlikely to make changes to the Sunday Night booth. ESPN/ABC has the early rounds of The Masters, but that’s still not quite Sunday at Augusta.