There are two major factors that have ensured that my sanity has made it this far into Volume 245 of The Stanford Daily: fellow night-owl and Managing Editor of News Catherine Zaw’s company and ESPN’s SportsCenter playing on endless loop into the wee hours of the morning as I pull countless all-nighters in the office while trying (and failing) to salvage this quarter’s grades.
SportsCenter just repeats a one-hour long taping as the night rolls on, meaning that night after night, the soothing voices of Neil Everett and Stan Verrett have become the standard background as I struggle with computer science. If nothing else, I get ridiculously familiar with whatever happened in the world that night and watch the Top Ten Plays of the day more often than I’d like to count. Hey, at least I’ll never run out of column ideas.
Tuesday night (meaning Wednesday morning, I guess), Batman LeBron James and the Heat lost to the Rockets. Okay, that’s great. The Florida Gators had their record for 3-pointers in a game broken. Spectacular. Ukraine’s soccer team is still going to play against the USA. Cool. Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler is making nasty comments at the Rangers’ front office. Oh, man.
Every time SportsCenter looped through its report about Kinsler’s very vocal dissatisfaction with the front office of his former team, the Texas Rangers, I got more and more uncomfortable. Kinsler was a player that I had always respected as a fan, but seeing his comments about the team that he had spent the first eight years of his Major League career with showed me a side of the guy that really rubbed me the wrong way.
Kinsler reportedly spoke with extreme disdain to Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, calling the GM a “sleazeball” and saying, “I hope [the Rangers] go 0-162. I got friends and I love my friends, but I hope they lose their ass.”
It was no secret that Kinsler and the Rangers had their disagreements during the final year or so of their relationship, especially in the wake of the Michael Young trade and the career-long second baseman being asked to switch positions to make room for the highly-touted Jurickson Profar in the Rangers’ infield. Evidently it was the departure of former team president Nolan Ryan after a power struggle that pushed Kinsler over the edge.
I can understand Kinsler’s consternation, sure. But an active player going out and making these scathing comments is just juvenile and sinking to a level not befitting to that of the standards to which we hold our professional athletes.
We expect our athletes to be examples and ambassadors, and for the most part, they’re good at doing that. And we love them for it. Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz and others are respected as much as they are (even by fans on both sides of the rivalries) because they are careers that have demonstrated class and professionalism throughout their careers.
Seattle fans — and Stanford fans — love Richard Sherman because of his ability to mix eloquent professionalism (for the most part) off the field with a fiery, provocative aura on the field fueled by the energy of the 12th Man. I bring up Sherman because I want to compare the circumstances of the controversial comments that he made with those of Kinsler, and why the latter bothered me while the former only served to entertain.
Sherman made his infamous Michael Crabtree comments after he had made a play that essentially clinched the Seahawks the Super Bowl after having gone one-on-one with the 49ers wide receiver. He still had adrenaline coursing through his veins from one of the biggest plays of his career to that point, and it was really the tremendous energy of the moment exploding out of the cornerback. I can respect that.
However, Kinsler’s comment comes five months after his trade and just a few days into spring training with a new team. There’s no moment talking and it wasn’t a response to a provocative comment made that could have incited him to speak in such a way. The fact that he directs his anger at his former team, saying that he wishes that they will suffer a winless season, exhibits a strong impulsiveness and lack of restraint and just makes it seem like he is lashing out — but at a group that didn’t have much to do with the dealings of the front office, the main source of Kinsler’s anger. He later said that he was joking, but come on. Who makes a comment like that as a jest, especially against a team on which he knows essentially everybody after having spent the last year with them?
And more importantly, what does this say about Kinsler’s character to his teammates and fans, both old and new? He came up with a hasty, unapologetic excuse after inciting very public drama with his incredibly childish and thoughtless comments. To his new teammates and fans in Detroit, that just makes him seem like a “me-first” player that doesn’t hold himself accountable for the decisions that he makes. Who knows when he’ll be dissatisfied next and make some scathing comments about the Tigers? What if the trade for Kinsler will just bring unwanted baggage to a team that’s trying to tune out excuses as it tries to compete for another pennant?
These events must also ruin Kinsler’s image in the eyes of Rangers fans, for whom he was a sparkplug and symbol in the leadoff spot in the lineup for so long before he left them for the Motor City. If I, an individual that feels pretty ambivalent about the Rangers, feel this way about Kinsler’s unprofessionalism, how must they feel after having supported him as part of their team — a team that he evidently has no problem trashing in the immediate wake of his departure — for these last eight seasons?
Bad move, Ian Kinsler. I’ve interviewed enough athletes even down here at the collegiate level to know that it’s incredibly important for athletes to control what they say to the media to avoid inciting such controversy (see: Thomas, De’Anthony). If you have a chip on your shoulder, let it show on the field, not through your comments.
It’s difficult to say whether Do-Hyoung Park is genuinely upset at Kinsler, or if the vitriol flowing from this column is just the sleep deprivation talking. Elucidate to him the countless benefits of a good night’s sleep at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Tweet at him @dohyoungpark.