On calling someone a wild horse
Here’s a little trade secret: Our idea with these Baseball Joe posts was originally to limit ourselves to 200 words or fewer.
It hasn’t really worked out that way, because some things need 250 words, or 300 or even 400. And that length doesn’t quite seem right for the full-column treatment. So we just do what we can.
Which I bring up because I’d like to keep this discussion to around 200 words, but I don’t know if I can. While I figure that out, a crystal-clear video for your visual and aural enjoyment:
Did you make it all the way to the end?
The stallion, The Wild Horse has done it again.
Scully’s nickname has taken, but there’s been a discouraging word from at least one quarter: The Week’s Jon Terbush …
White players are often lauded for their "hustle," while minority players are assumed to be naturally physically gifted (and by implication, less hard-working). This holds true for Puig, whose "Wild Horse" nickname — even if it was coined by the venerable Vin Scully — feels like the old deplorable practice of attributing animalistic characteristics to black players.
Terbush’s essay is otherwise perfectly reasonable, but reading the above I can’t help wondering a) how much baseball history he knows, and b) "feels like" to whom, exactly? Not to me. Because while it might be perfectly true that there was an "old deplorable practice of attributing animalistic characteristics to black players," that’s not really what happened here. Well before Jackie Robinson reached the majors, Johnny Evers was The Crab and Johnny Mize was The Big Cat. Eighty-five years before Yasiel Puig arrived in the majors, Pepper Martin was The Wild Horse of the Osage. A few years later, Neill Sheridan — a European-American player who spent nearly all of his pro career in the minors — was simply Wild Horse.
Much later, Dave Parker was The Cobra and Andres Gallaraga was Big Cat and Greg Luzinski was Bull and Gary Gaetti was Rat and Greg Maddux was Mad Dog and Orel Hershiser was Bulldog.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Granted, we’re becoming ever more sensitive, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe someday it simply won’t be acceptable to use any animal-related nicknames, for fear they’ll be tied a horrible history For now, though, let’s just apply the Scully Standard and assume this one’s actually okay.
Trust me, it’ll save us both a lot more 400-word essays.