Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Baseball Hall Of Fame – The Bull Durham Debacle

I think Bull Durham is one of the best baseball movies ever made.

This Spring, the Baseball Hall of Fame organized a celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the film’s release.

As the war in Iraq began to rage, things like baseball movies became rather insignificant, no matter how significant the movie itself seemed. Most public figures remained remarkably silent about the war, irrespective of their position. Silence was deemed to be patriotic, and nobody wants to be deemed unpatriotic.

Two of the film's stars, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, were not silent about their positions on the war. Their voices rang loud and clear in a silent landscape, and they did not go unnoticed.

In a letter released to the media, Dale Petroskey, the President of the Hall of Fame wrote that the Bull Durham celebration would be cancelled because he believed Tim Robbins’ “ . . . very public criticism of President Bush at this important -- and sensitive -- time in our nation's history helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger. As an institution, we stand behind our President and our troops in this conflict."

His letter explained that public figures "have platforms much larger than the average American's, which provides you an extraordinary opportunity to have your views heard -- and an equally large obligation to act and speak responsibly." Therefore, Robbins would not have a platform at the Hall of Fame to talk about making a baseball movie.

It seems that in Mr. Petroskey’s view is that blind acceptance of the war in Iraq is the only responsible speech to be offered, and anyone who opposes the war has no place at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

I have added the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Major League Baseball and its broadcasts, and MLB/MLBPA merchandise to my boycott list. Why? Because I believe that freedom of speech and expression of dissent are what make the Untied States unique, and any attempt to abridge these rights are patently un-American and need to be attacked. By giving my money to MLB, the MLBPA, and the Hall of Fame, I am saying that it is OK with me that they silence voices of dissent.

It is important for me to remember, too, that baseball makes more money from the television broadcasts than from gate receipts; so, refusing to tune-in is actually more important than avoiding the ballpark.

If you are similarly offended by baseball’s patently un-American activities, please consider a boycott and a letter to them to let them know what you think. If you agree with baseball’s position on the Bull Durham Debacle, you should let them know! I’m sure they’d appreciate hearing from you.

Here is a link to a Sports Illustrated article about the incident: SI Article