Sunday Notes: The Meaning of Luke Scott, Tigers, Dodgers-Giants

The South Korean media should love Luke Scott. The outspoken outfielder will be playing for SK Wyverns this season and there’s a good chance not all of his bombs will come via his bat. Controversy and Scott have gone together like hand in glove.

That is not an indictment of his character. In a politically-correct climate where many athletes coat their opinions with vanilla, Scott’s candidness is refreshing. You may not agree with his views, but they’re dead honest. The erstwhile Astro, Oriole and Ray doesn’t shoot from the hip so much as he shoots from the heart.

Talking with Scott last summer, I learned that a pair of events helped shape not only his career, but also how he approaches life.

Scott suffered a noteworthy injury early in his minor league career.

“I blew out my quad,” explained Scott, who had been drafted by the Indians out of Oklahoma State University. “It was completely ripped. That’s something that needs to be surgically repaired within 24 hours and I didn’t even see a doctor for three days.

I asked Scott why.

“Poor treatment. I was in A-ball and wasn’t a top prospect. That type of deal. I was a 4.4 40 guy, too. I was a runner. I could play center and steal bases. I could jump out of the ceiling. I had really good combine-type numbers. The injury really affected me, but by the grace of God I was able to maintain a decent amount of athleticism afterwards.”

Event No. 2 occurred when Cleveland traded Scott to Houston at the outset of the 2004 season.

“It was March 31st and I was packing my stuff for some cold weather up in Buffalo,” said Scott. “Triple-A Buffalo. When I got traded, the Astros actually sent me to high-A. I was not pleased. Going from Triple-A and knocking on the door to the big leagues, down to high-A where I’d already been an all-star, was kind of a disgraceful thing for them to do.

“The first thing I did was give myself 24 hours. Twenty four hours to vent and rage, break things. I punched my door and put a crack in it. I broke a few boat oars out back of the house. I was mad, because I felt I was being stolen from. I felt I was being treated unjustly, and I was.”

I asked if he was given a reason.

“They gave me a stupid, political BS response. They said the rosters were full and they’d move me up to Triple-A, or at least Double-A, in two weeks. Two months later I was still in A-Ball, wearing it. I was pissed.”

What followed was some soul-searching. Rather than remain angry at the world, Scott looked to the heavens for some strength.

“I had a one-on-one with God. I got it all out. I told the Lord I was disgusted, because I’d worked very hard. I also told Him I trusted He had control over my future and that I knew nothing happened without His approval, so I wasn’t going to complain. I was going to work even harder and be thankful for my opportunity. I shifted my attitude to appreciation.

“After two months and three weeks in A-ball I was moved up to Double-A, and hit bombs there. The next year I was playing left field for the Astros and we went to the World Series.”

I asked Scott if there is a relationship between his faith and his outspokenness. In other words, is he comfortable enough in his own skin to freely share his beliefs, regardless of ramifications? He responded in the affirmative. In inimitable Luke Scott fashion, he then elaborated in a way sure to ruffle feathers.

“I’m a very open and honest person,” said Scott. “But I don’t… I’m not like the liberal left, who go out looking to verbally assault people. I don’t go out of my way to do stuff like that. I’m not saying there aren’t some on the right who do the same thing, but from my experience, it’s a very small percentage.

“When people ask me a question, I give them a straight answer. I don’t sugarcoat things, I give them an honest answer and I do it respectfully. It just happens that if you have a different opinion than them, the mainstream media and liberal left persecute you. They’ll slander you and lie about you. They’ll say nasty things, just because they disagree. That’s been my experience for years. People label me these things, that I’m this radical animal and lunatic. I’m not.

“I tell people what I think. You’re entitled to yours and I‘m entitled to mine. We all have to answer to the Lord God Almighty for every decision we make and every word we speak. How we live our lives is an individual responsibility. I don’t judge people. If they want to judge me, that’s up to them.”

——

Some stern judgment was rendered at Comiskey Park on April 22, 2000. The White Sox pounded the Tigers 14-6 that day, and fists were flying nearly as fast as baseballs. A pair of brawls resulted in 11 ejections and 16 suspensions.

The storm began brewing in the bottom of the sixth when Detroit’s Jeff Weaver barked at Carlos Lee after hitting him with a pitch. Chicago’s Jim Parque responded by plunking Dean Palmer leading off the top of the seventh. Palmer charged the mound and the benches emptied. Six were ejected and Tigers catcher Robert Fick was doused with beer after taunting fans from the visiting bullpen.

Animosity remained. Tanyon Sturtze came in to pitch the ninth for the White Sox and promptly drilled Deivi Cruz. Brawl No. 2 ensued, as did more banishments. Among those tossed was Detroit’s Doug Brocail, a tough-as-nails right-hander who earned six ejections over his playing career. Brocail — currently a special assistant to the GM in Houston — remembers the events this way:

“It’s funny, when I brawled, I blacked out,” Brocail told me last summer. “So I don’t really remember much outside of watching the videos. I do remember telling Dean Palmer they’re about to start hitting our guys and we’ll need to go out there.

“I remember Gibby walking in after the brawl and saying, ’Oh my God, you guys have to see Broc.’ Which wasn’t a good thing, because I think I was the guy who delivered the punch that just about ripped their third baseman’s ear off.

“The game was over. They had a big lead, so I knew something bad was going to happen when I saw they had relievers up. My main concern was protecting my teammates. Had I been on the mound afterward, my approach would have been to start hitting guys until I got ejected. It never got to that.

“Looking back, you think ‘How stupid.’ But the one thing that wasn’t stupid is we knew we had to protect our teammates. As pitchers, that’s what we do. I didn’t hit guys for hitting home runs against me. They did their job. But if Tony Clark or Bobby Higginson went deep, and they responded by whacking us, somebody had to pay the price. That’s how it works. If you hit one of our guys for doing his job, I was going to make sure, some how, some way, there was a payback.”

——

Baseball’s most infamous altercation occurred on August 22, 1965, at Candlestick Park: Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants chopped Los Angeles Dodgers catcher John Roseboro over the head with his bat. A wild melee ensued and Roseboro required 14 stitches. Dodgers manager Walter Alston said at the time, ‘There was nothing but blood where his left eye should have been.’

There is more to what happened than a heated rivalry and an act of violence. That is true not only from a baseball perspective, but from a sociological one as well. A new addition to my bookshelf — The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseball’s Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption — tells the story well. I asked the author, John Rosengren, for a snapshot of the incident.

“The fight was on a Sunday, the fourth day of a four-game series,” explained Rosengren. “Leading up to it were a series of events. Maury Wills had squared around to bunt, then reached back at the last minute and nicked Tom Haller’s glove. That angered the Giants, because the umpire called catcher’s interference. So Matty Alou tried to do the same thing, and while he didn’t nick Roseboro’s glove it was enough of a distraction that the ball missed Roseboro’s glove and hit him in the chest. When Roseboro yelled about it, Marichal shouted from the bench ‘Haller doesn’t complain, why are you complaining?’ Roseboro told Alou, ‘Tell Marichal if he doesn’t shut his mouth, I’ll shut it for him.’ After the game, he sent a message through Orlando Cepeda saying, ‘I’ll get Marichal if he doesn’t shut up.’

“During the game where the incident occurred, Marichal knocked down Wills and Ron Fairly. Sandy Koufax threw a pitch over Willie Mays’ head in retaliation. The home plate umpire warned both sides that any more inside pitches would result in an ejection. When Marichal came up to bat in the bottom of the third, the Dodgers didn’t want to give up Koufax that early in the game. Roseboro said he’d take care of it. He deliberately dropped the second pitch, picked it up and threw it back past Marichal’s face. Marichal claims it was so close it actually nicked his ear.

“Marichal turns and sees Roseboro — who had a reputation as one of the toughest guys in the league — advancing toward him. Marichal takes a step back and brings his bat down in self defense.”

I also asked Rosengren about the sociological and psychological aspects of the incident. He explained that Marichal’s homeland, the Dominican Republic, had erupted into civil war. There was violence in the streets of Santo Domingo and he was worried about family that remained there. Mays said Marichal was so distraught he shouldn’t have been playing. He was on edge and it wouldn‘t take much to set him off.

Roseboro was an African-American living in South Central LA. He had just watched Watts burn. The smoke could be seen from Dodger Stadium. Roseboro was wondering why they were even playing baseball at a time like that, with all the rioting. He sat up one night with a gun to protect his family.

As Rosengren told me, “When you throw that into a Giants-Dodgers rivalry and a pennant race, it wasn’t going take much to ignite those tensions in a brawl.”




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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. His first book, Interviews from Red Sox Nation, was published by Maple Street Press in 2006. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.


42 Responses to “Sunday Notes: The Meaning of Luke Scott, Tigers, Dodgers-Giants”

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  1. nsacpi says:

    candor not candidness

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  2. DCer says:

    Grammer police apparently do not rest on Sunday.

    I for one and happy for the nice piece on the weekend. Thanks – fun read.

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  3. Ducky says:

    I don’t think I would like hanging out with Luke Scott very much. He seems like the type of guy who tells it like he thinks it is; not like it is. I hope you enjoy Korean Baseball. It pays well enough I’m sure but for your own well-being bite your tongue.

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    • Mike says:

      Agreed, his opinions while it may seem like he is just speaking his mind. It seems to have a purpose to agitate.

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  4. dave in gb says:

    Luke Scott always came across as a respectful person during his time in Baltimore. Its just if you asked his opinion, he wouldn’t hold back. I never minded him. I remember when the baltimore media reported he carried a gun with him on the road. In such liberal state as maryland, this created a media field day. Scott them the to read the Bill of Rights if they thought is was a problem.

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  5. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Scott says he is not like the liberal left who “verbally assault” people, then proceeds to verbally assault the “liberal left.”

    +39 Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. KS says:

    “In a politically-correct climate where many athletes coat their opinions with vanilla, Scott’s candidness is refreshing. You may not agree with his views, but they’re dead honest. The erstwhile Astro, Oriole and Ray doesn’t shoot from the hip so much as he shoots from the heart.”

    Sorry, but “candidness” that derives from ignorance isn’t in the least bit “refreshing.” Scott’s 2010 remarks about Barack Obama were plainly rascist and completely devoid of any factual basis. You can disagree on politics–I welcome spirited debate with intelligent, informed people who disagree with me–but you’d better know what you’re talking about.

    “When people ask me a question, I give them a straight answer. I don’t sugarcoat things, I give them an honest answer and I do it respectfully. It just happens that if you have a different opinion than them, the mainstream media and liberal left persecute you. They’ll slander you and lie about you. They’ll say nasty things, just because they disagree. That’s been my experience for years. People label me these things, that I’m this radical animal and lunatic. I’m not.”

    Luke Scott actually said this? What’s worse, he actually believes this! He lied when he said Obama was not born in this country, what else has he lied about?

    I have nothing but contempt for self-righteous hypocrites like Luke Scott. At the very least, a supposed “journalist” should fact-check Scott’s claims, not give him a free pass and a national forum.

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    • Joe Stephens says:

      Grindr much?

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    • Valuearb says:

      Aren’t you making his point for him? OK so he is a bit of a loon that believed the Obama Uganda story. You called him ignorant, racist, and a liar, essentially you verbally assaulted him because you vent handle someone having different opinions than yours. You can’t politely say, I disagree with him and have good reason to think he’s wrong or misinformed?

      BTW: I like Obama as a person but have no doubt he is a terrible president. His continuation of the Bush debt spree to make the highest federal spending in history our new de facto standard has pretty much made a debt default inevitable. When it finally happens people will look back and deny they ever voted for this guy, that’s how unpopular he will be.

      So go ahead, cast your insults at me and my beliefs all in the name of “spirited discourse”.

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      • pinch says:

        oh god no
        no not here
        stop it
        no more talking about obama, unless it is this one: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1011257&position=2B/OF
        (his first name is actually “bama” but desperate times, etc.)

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      • matt w says:

        Valuearb, you are completely wrong about the fiscal picture of the United States. The debt/GDP ratio is leveling off, even if debt continued to climb default would not be inevitable because the US borrows in its own country, and… oh, just read Paul Krugman for a while and get yourself informed. I’m not going to insult you personally, because (unlike Scott) you didn’t play into any racist tropes, but your opinions are indeed wrong.

        Pinch, sorry, but Laurila dove headfirst into politics when he decreed that it was refreshing that Scott had openly expressed his opinions. Some opinions are simply vile and hateful, and it’s not refreshing to hear them expressed. The opinion that the first black US president isn’t really an American, in the face of an enormous amount of documentation, is one of them.

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      • DodgersKings323 says:

        Wasn’t that pretty much inevitable? Blame him for things he inherited from previous administrations is short sighted

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  7. Shankbone says:

    Nice sunday read. Especially the part about Watts burning while the Giants and Dodgers mixed it up. Thanks!

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  8. BoyHowdy says:

    KS, you’ve proved Luke’s point. “Plainly racist” and “completely devoid”? Really.

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    • Bryan says:

      Yes, by the social science definition of racism Scott is plainly racist. When did calling a racist a racist become “verbal assault”?

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  9. Jay Stokes says:

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/l/luke_scott.html

    I only know Luke Scott’s positions tangentially. I found this site that seem to summarize his best known.

    While they possess a very direct, conservative view point, I guess their candor and their level of refreshment will be in eye of the reader.

    I definitely disagree with most of these and the few “fact based” comments, such as the correlation of gun control to urban crime rate in WDC, can be pretty easily refuted with data and facts.

    So while they are conservative, and he is definitely entitled to his opinion, I am at a loss of how this is in any way novel or interesting. If an athlete espoused oft stated liberal positions, while I may agree with them, I am not sure I would laud their candor or novelty.

    Now if he stated positions in a way that I had not heard very often, seemed clever, unusually articulate or insightful or something along those lines, I would get it.

    As a counter example, I heard an interview with RA Dickey. The guy is very religious (presumably conservative) and found him very engaging, intelligent and respectful. Luke sounds pretty belligerent. I guess one man’s jerk is another’s truth to power.

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • coldseat says:

      +1 Too many people confuse political views with character. Actions should speak louder than words or beliefs. I don’t know him enough to know if he’s rapping waitresses, screaming at equipment mgrs., makes babies cry, kicks dogs, takes ped’s.

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    • Drew says:

      Makes me wonder if his minor league clubs treated him poorly in response to his mouth.

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  10. Alby says:

    I think most fans already know a bit about Luke Scott’s, um, “outspoken” nature and take his comments accordingly — which is to say, he sounds as if he’s mellowing with age. I hope the collision of Scott’s candor with Korea’s heirarchical culture will be covered here at Fangraphs.

    Thanks for the bit on the Marichal/Roseboro book, and for a Sunday notes column worth the time to read.

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  11. Poo says:

    Good ole Luke Scott, he loves beer, home runs, boat oars, ‘Merica and hates Obama, libtards and health care for everyone.

    How can you not at least respect that?

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  12. DrBGiantsfan says:

    I don’t know how anybody can get away with saying it’s just the liberals who verbally assault people. Yeah, the MSNBC crowd has gone off into the ditch on the other side, but how can you possibly not call what Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Charles Krauthammer, Sean Hannity, Michael Reagan, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin and others too numerous to name spew out every single day verbal assaults? I mean, that’s not a small number of people there and they are all household names.

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    • Poo says:

      I’m pretty firmly convinced that some of those people are just acting. For instance, I refuse to believe anybody’s belief system is as warped as Anne Coulter’s.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Anne Coulter is definitely acting. You can see the smirk on her face as she says some of the outrageous stuff. She’s figured out that saying outrageous stuff sells books. The sad part is how many people who buy those books take it seriously and actually believe that stuff.

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    • jojo from the beltway says:

      DrB – Krauthammer? Disagree with him all you like, but what item of his ever went to the level of “verbal assault”?

      That would be like Luke Scott saying that Rachel Maddow verbally assaults someone, just because she’s on MSNBC with the firebrands on the left side.

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  13. Drew says:

    If Scott is honest, it’s clear from his many statements that he is an idiot.

    I could hope that he was putting on a show for the media. At least then he’d have a chance of not being an idiot.

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  14. Connor says:

    The phrase “I don’t judge people” is probably the most misused phrase in the modern American English language. When bigoted, finger pointing people like Scott claim this about themselves to defend their disgusting, hateful opinions, it literally has no meaning anymore.

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  15. Jon L. says:

    Paraphrased: “They slander and lie, but I’m not one to verbally assault people, not like they are.”

    Jackass.

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  16. bookbook says:

    Mr. Scott is practicing a tactic right out of the current GOP playbook. Say inaccurate, intolerant, and racists things, then cry that your critics are being intolerant of you, by not respecting your right to lie and/or discriminate with impunity. Maybe even your religious freedom to do same.

    It tends to be a very effective tactic.

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  17. CrackWilding says:

    Being outspoken is not in itself a positive value. If Luke Scott were to answer questions with diatribes about the evils of miscegenation and how the Jews are destroying the country, do you honestly think you could get away with saying “you may not agree with him, but he’s a straight shooter”?

    Ok, once you get over the idea that honesty about ones views is a virtue no matter the view, the next logical step is to examine his views. I think it’s pretty plain that a lot of them come from positions of deep ignorance. I think that’s easily demonstrable. It remains to be seen how Koreans will respond to this, but I for one find it a bit embarrassing that he now becomes, to them, an exemplar of American thinking.

    Luke Scott is one guy who I’d be happy to watch slide off the end of a sharp aging curve. It would take away the platform from which he gets to broadcast his ignorance so very, very loudly.

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    • jojo from the beltway says:

      Clever what you just did there. Putting a Steve Carlton point of view in a rhetorical statement about something that Luke Scott might hypothetically say, knowing that the itching eyes of the comment readers are more likely than not to accidentally assume that Scott said this.

      Don’t like all of what Scott has said, but also don’t like the tactics that the other side employs. Only gives Scott’s type some cover to call themselves “victims”

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  18. Enkidu says:

    All that straight shooting refreshing candor!!! And he played in Houston!, Quick…someone ask him about Clemens, Pettitte, Bagwell and PEDs

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  19. Hurtlockertwo says:

    I was at the Giants game the day before the Marichal incident, I remember the Giants lost that game but Mays hit a HR. I think this was the height of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry. Koufax, Marichal, Drysdale, Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Perry great players on those two teams.

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  20. DodgersKings323 says:

    Now none of you better make fun of his religious beliefs!!!!

    *bites tongue*

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  21. Bryan says:

    Scott is the worst. He doesn’t even attempt to defend or justify his claims. Then when people call him on his crap he pulls out the “just my opinion” card, the weakest form of argumentation possible. Yes, you have a right to your opinion – your opinion just happens to be racist and irrational. We should not be applauding bad arguments.

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  22. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    I generally like this website, but when you throw politics in with baseball it comes out to the detriment of both. I am right of center politically, but it is neither here nor there. On a baseball website I want to see baseball and that’s it. The good thing about baseball is that it is competition based on merit and it can be measured. That’s what I expect here and that’s all I expect. The stories and commentary should be about baseball. Period. If I want right-wing politics I’ll go to the National Review or something.

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    • B N says:

      Amen to that. I got to say, I want to know a baseball player’s opinion about politics about as much as I want to know a brain surgeon’s opinion about my septic tank hookup.

      Why? Because while they’re experts in their fields, they’re almost never going to be an expert in that second field. With that said, I will allow a pass on this if we can also get Luke Scott’s opinions about septic tank hookups.

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