Sometimes I wonder

Behind the scenes of USSM, I’ve been having deep doubts this year about writing about baseball at all. I like writing about baseball, certainly, and I love it when people tell us that we’re the reason they’re educated baseball fans, but if I had to make a list of the most important things to people in Seattle’s actual lives and our city’s long-term future, they’d be
– global warming
– transit
– policing/zoning/music/etc

It’s far more important that next Tuesday Darcy Burner get elected than it is that the Mariners bid on Daisuke Matsuzaka, because Dave Reichert’s done a horrible job as a Congressman, and I’m particularly ticked because I thought he’d be a better choice than Dave Ross but he went on to support the Republican leadership over and over on things like “Should we suspend ethics rules that would force DeLay to step down when indicted?” and “Can the president do whatever he wants, regardless of constitutionality?”

I wrote him a couple of times, and I know he probably gets a ton of email, but here’s my experience writing to my different Congresspeople about things like domestic surveillance.

Patty Murray: Well-written (probably form) response to exactly the thing I was worried about, including her position (etc). I don’t know if they’re assembling these from parts or they’ve just got a million templates, but Murray’s responses were quite complete. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.
Maria Cantwell: General form response
Dave Reichert: Flat form letter that he’s concerned too about the issue and supports hearings but also supports the president’s war on terror, and ignores whatever points I raised or concerns were in the mail that might not be covered by “terrorism response 1-a”

Even more than that, the thing is, while he said he was concerned, and supported hearings, he didn’t. He didn’t do anything. He didn’t call for hearings, he didn’t support calls for hearings, he didn’t do anything but lie to me. It’s like his supposed stance against ANWAR drilling, where he’ll tell you how he’s against it, but when it comes time to vote on something that actually contains ANWAR drilling, he’ll go right ahead and do it. If I tell people I’m against puppy killing and then I go around helping people kill puppies, it’s pretty clear that my opposition, if it really exists at all, is pretty weak.

After a couple of tries, I stopped writing. At least someone at Murray’s office was reading emails and working to get her position clearly stated and out there.

But my Congressman, who represents little more than my district, lied to me when he responded to me at all about supporting my civil rights, or the rule of law.

Enough about Dave Reichert, though. I’m a little shocked to see how much I just ranted about him lying to me. That really ticks me off.

At USSM we’ve made a conscious attempt to keep our politics off the blog as much as we can manage. The best argument for doing this (to me) was reading other people’s team blogs, where the posts would go
– Why Derek Jeter’s limited range to his left requires infield adjustments
– Hilary Clinton is the bride of the anti-Christ
– Odd waiver transaction of the day

As a result, I try not to fly the black flag on USSM, and sometimes that means a bit of tongue-biting. It’s probably for the best, in terms of our baseball readership and influence. If you reveal you’re a Democrat or Republican in these dark times, there’s a good chance you lose at least 30% of your audience, and I’d rather talk to them all.

Anyway, during the outage we’ve received a lot of email from people about taking ads, or thoughts about how we could make money, and so forth. Today I got one that suggested an ad layout that wasn’t too intrusive, so I checked it out, and it was one of those Drudge Report-like sites that has little log lines of things to read, and they were all… lies. I don’t know how else to put it. Links to things Rush Limbaugh had said that were provably false, the worst kind of strangeness and alternate reality conservative stuff where the terrorists want Democrats to regain control of the House.

I never know what to think when I come across this kind of thing, and I feel like in a larger sense, it means that USSM is failing in a wider way. We may be trying to educate people to think critically about baseball, and to read baseball coverage carefully, because the Times is in the team’s pocket and so on, but for at least some of our readers, they’re reading us and then not applying the same tools anywhere else. They’re reading the sports page thinking “okay, Steve, you think David Bell should have stayed, but there’s no evidence for that and you’re full of it” and then reading a different story that makes a far more ludicrous assertion and, because it fits their worldview or comes from a source that’s endorsed by their side, nodding and welcoming it in.

That’s really depressing. I don’t know what’s to be done about it.

8 thoughts on “Sometimes I wonder

  1. Coach Owens

    You know Derek, Dave Reichert might support the republicans but in personal he is a really nice guy. One time we met him while we were at the dad of my dad’s friend and right away even though he didn’t even know us he let us go on his motorboat with him. So in my opinion that is kind of cruel what you’re saying about him. (Don’t take this personally.)

  2. DMZ

    I don’t know Reichert personally, and I’m not saying anything about him or whether he’s a nice guy or not.

    As my congressman, he’s done a horrible job, misrepresented the job he’s done to me, and when I’ve tried to talk to him about it, I’ve got nowhere.

  3. Martin


    Please keep writing about baseball.

    USSM is a needed escape for days when the world is going to hell.

    It’s true that people (on both sides) uncritically accept information that supports their worldview and reject that which does not. This blog, or any other, won’t change that basic facet of human nature.

    You have even less chance of teaching people to think critically if you talk about politics, where people really have their defenses up.

    As someone who really values your opinions and writing on a variety of issues, please keep writing about whatever you like on this blog, but stick to baseball on USSM.

  4. Martin

    And if you and the USSM guys wanted to create “U.S.S. Politics”, or whatever, I would find that interesting to read.

    But only if you had somewhat interesting differences of opinion; if it’s an echo chamber for one position, you’re part of the problem.

  5. Fava Bean

    It would have been awesome had USS Mariner endorsed Darcy Burner. It’s an important election. Unless the D’s take either the House or Senate, there will be two more years of absolutely no checks on the Bush Admin.’s rampant abuses of power. Sure you would have received quite a few “keep the politics out of the baseball blog” posts. But you and your co-writers created this forum. You have an audience. You utilize reason in your posts. And reason dictates that voting for candidates who stand in opposition to the Bush Administration is the rational thing to do. You might have pissed off some readers. But it was Bush and his allies who created this climate of extreme partisanship and hostility. I read USSM because the writing is witty and the nuances of baseball are pretty interesting. But you are right that control of the House is more important than anything related to baseball. I hope Darcy wins, and I’m glad you brought this up on your blog. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Sabermetric Community making political endorsements.

  6. Ira

    I would be very curious to read what you had to say about politics. You’re a reasonable guy, so I expect you to take reasonable positions. But I find most of the positions on the left unreasonable (that said, I don’t find many politicians on the right left in the Repulblican Party, and were I an American I would have abandoned them sometime in the past 4 years or so). As such, I’d be interested to see how you handled it.

  7. Scraps

    All I want to say is that I appreciate your dilemma, and I know there’s no easy solution.

    My audience for my blog is much, much smaller than the USS Mariner. Yet I still hesitated to fully express my outrage at the state of things for the last six years, and the thought processes of the people who support it (or think it’s no big deal). After the last election, I finally broke down and said “Look, be a Repulican, fine, but if you align yourself with these Republicans, I cannot respect you. This is beyond a difference of opinion; if you support these people, you are either a thug or a tool. And if I don’t say this, now, at this point in our history, I won’t be able to respect myself. And of course, I lost readers. The hardest thing, though, was knowing I lost my parents as readers.

    I’m just ruminating. My blog isn’t subject-specific, and it isn’t shared with others. I don’t know what I’d do in your position. Chafe, I guess.

  8. Peter


    I work in professional politics. I spend my life talking to people who passionately agree and disagree with me, and I equally enjoy both (actually, I may like those who disagree even more). That being said, I love my USS Mariner politics-free.

    I strongly support general statements about civic duty, including your post reminding people to vote on election day. But I also love having a non-ideological community of Mariners fans who can cross any number of other boundaries to come together and agree that Carl Everett is a huge douche bag.

    If you want to get together, have a beer and chat politics; I’m in. But it’s the baseball that keeps me coming back to USS-M.

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