by John Paschal - August 1, 2014
Jose Altuve is awesome.
That is all.
The word “stupid,” in this context, should be uppercase — much like “Martino.” But apparently not like “mike.”
He only capitalizes the second word of every sentence.
That’s unfortunate whenever the sentence is “Hail, e.e. cummings!”
Of all the things I’ll miss about NotGraphs, the literary jokes top the list.
This is… just really mean. Like qualifying offers, vesting options, or the value of Ryan Howard, I’ve never understood why it’s just okay to dehumanize and deride someone for being short. This made me kind of sad.
With all due respect, I’m not trying to “dehumanize” anyone. If anything, I’ve further humanized a great ballplayer. Jose Altuve is, objectively, a not-tall person. As a professional athlete, he is especially not-tall. Quite clearly, I’m giving expressly hyperbolized and absurd examples of his non-tallness, just as I gave expressly hyperbolized and absurd examples of Jose Abreu’s not-smallness in the previous installment of “Ten Things You Probably Didn’t Know…” (Click the link.)
Nobody complained about the Abreu piece because not-smallness, for whatever reason, is held in higher esteem than not-tallness, but that doesn’t mean the examples were any less hyperbolic or absurd. In any case, not-tallness and not-smallness are uniquely singular characteristics that bear examining, particularly on a humor site. Granted, not everyone is going to find the same thing funny, especially when I write it, but a reader must recognize that at the heart of some comedy is an element of what might be called, in Oscar Wilde’s world, “persiflage,” or gentle mockery. It comes with the territory. Otherwise you’d get humor pieces like this:
1) Jose Altuve plays for the Houston Astros
2) Jose Altuve is very fast – note his stolen base total!
3) Jose Altuve is from Venezuela.
You get the idea.
Not-tallness is a peculiar component of Jose Altuve’s identity. That he plays big league baseball makes it all the more unique, and all the more awesome that he is so good. I’m sure that Mr. Altuve would agree that he is not tall. He might also agree that he is good at baseball. In truth, I’m using one element of his identity to celebrate the other. Of course, not everyone will see it that way.
Next up in “Ten Things” is Billy Hamilton and his amazing speed. I promise, no one will complain.
Also, I find it ironic that while accusing me of deriding and dehumanizing Jose Altuve, you derided and dehumanized Ryan Howard — who, by all accounts is an awesome dude– and the Phillies front office, which, by all accounts, is an unholy mess. Unless, of course, you’re trying to be funny.
Paschal, that’s a very verbose way of saying you support foreigners coming to America without a highschool education and stealing high-paying jobs away from real americans.
That response was longer than most Instagraphs articles.
The point being that Altuve does not control his smallness. The Phillies front office did control Howard’s value. They made a ridiculous decision, deserving of mockery because it was just that: a decision. Altuve, it is presumed, did not decide to be small.
The previous poster did no disparage Ryan Howard, nor dehumanize him. He simply mocked ‘the value’ of the player. A jibe that reflects directly back upon the front office that DECIDED to give him that contract.
But did front office personnel DECIDE to be stupid? I mean, as it’s been explained to me, stupid is as stupid does. In this context, his mockery is wholly indefensible and especially cruel.
He is deriding and dehumanizing an otherwise decent human being simply for the unfortunate fact of having not been born a mental giant.
Mocking people for their poor decisions is one of the ways to ensure that behavior is corrected (in themselves and others). Mocking someone for their height does nothing.
You’re bad at this.
I’m bad at this? Sounds like you know a thing or two about mockery. Next time I will defer to your expertise.
In all seriousness, I have already stated my case, flimsy though it may be. I don’t care to restate my points. Suffice it to say that if you take issue with this piece, you also take issue with, say, David Letterman’s Top 10 lists, “Family Guy,” Don Rickels and the comedy stylings of Borscht Belt hacks.
Fair enough. Typically, I don’t do “insult humor.” I generally don’t like it, either as a creator or consumer. I’m sensitive to written expressions of cruelty. As a Texan, I wake up every day to be ridiculed, lampooned and loathed. I’m convinced that the Internet was created as a delivery system for anti-Texan sentiment. Every morning when I turn on the computer, 52 million fists come flying out of the monitor to smack me right in the face.
The difference is, they’re not joking.
Still, I appreciate and understand your feelings. Had I been the reader and not the writer of this piece, I might have hated it, too. I’m not really sure.
In this instance, given the over-the-top nature of the examples I used, the piece seemed relatively harmless. I’m not actually calling into question Altuve’s merit as a human being. I’m not labeling him a bad guy, or questioning his morality. I’m simply making punchlines, as “humorists” do, of a defining feature, one that most observers have recognized.
Again, not everyone agrees that this should be the stuff of comedy, and I respect that. You defeat your purpose, though, when you mock me.
John, thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment, it means a lot to me, that you appreciate my concerns.
A lot of support groups and advocates for short men speak to severe feelings of unattractiveness, and emasculation.
Many online forums targeted at short men and women talk of the difficulty of approaching this discrimination without being attacked or bellited, or for that matter, simply having a conversation without being treated like a child.
As you admitted, being perceived as large garners no such feelings of inferiority. There’s a big difference in making fun of an unusual, some would say defining trait which is considered to be positive or good, and joining into a chorus of forces seeking to reduce and attack someone for what I believe to be a benign trait, shortness.
Your very first line robs Altuve of his masculinity, putting him on the Chinese Women’s Gymnastics team. Your fourth line robs him of his strength. Your fifth line turns him into an infant. I appreciate that humor finds roots in coming at someone’s expense, I don’t think it’s worth pretending that Altuve isn’t short, or that he is not especially short for a successful baseball player. This post turns being short into his defining trait, and makes that trait an indisputable negative.
Fundamentally, I don’t see the difference between making fun of Altuve for being short and making fun of someone for being fat (which, depending on who you ask and who you’re talking about, is or is not reasonably within someone’s control) or for being gay (which is emphatically out of someone’s control). To me, the problem in such humor doesn’t come from whether or not it is within someone’s control, I believe it lies in the final cost of such humor, just, how mean it it is. Once you begin to seriously discourage someone’s fundamental sense of self worth, I think you cross the line between persiflage and being a jerk.
Making fun of the Phillies’ Organization and the people within it, I don’t know that I am personally insulting anyone. I don’t think Ryan Howard is a bad person, or less of a person, or anything but a former all-star and all around nice guy. I do think he is a particularly bad baseball player. I think the organization which saw fit to extend him has been incompetent to the point of doing a disservice to one of the largest fanbases in baseball, the Philadelphia market (I’m reasonably sure the Philly fans of this site would agree). I don’t think Ruben Amaro Jr, or in all likelihood, anyone in the organization is particularly stupid. Incompetence has many forms, and the stubbornness and lethargy which has characterized the Phillies is just one. It manifests in the Phillies looking, well, stupid. I don’t know that being stupid is a particularly brutal condemnation, or that the stupid are in need of a support infrastructure. I don’t see how calling someone stupid is particularly dehumanizing, especially to a multi-million dollar corporation, RE The Phillies. It’s difficult for me to imagine someone who is, by whatever objective measure, stupid, reading my comment, and questioning their self worth as a result of my malicious attack on the collective simple mindedness of an organization.
But, someone who is definitely short, or made to feel that way by a society which prioritizes strength, masculinity, and tallness, I could very reasonably see someone reading your post, and your belittling of Altuve, purely on the basis of his not-largeness. , and feeling like shit. Many of those communities I’ve mentioned above have taken to admiring Altuve’s success, and idolizing his rebuke of the notions of shortness being incompatible with strength or athleticism. It’s just too easy to take all that realization away with a joke about not being able to ride a roller coaster.
My point isn’t that your post is particularly morally offensive. I don’t think you should spend a Saturday morning touring major news networks to apologize for your recent article on Notgraphs, or take it down. My point is, this struck me as very mean, and I couldn’t enjoy it without feeling a particular sadness. I could see you saying that’s depressive, that my defense of short people is itself a form of emasculation and dehumanization, and I don’t know that I’d disagree. I enjoy your articles, and I love this site more than anything (#KeepNotGraphs). I didn’t enjoy this article, and here’s why. Thank you again for taking the time to read my comment, and take note of my concerns.
First, I hope you didn’t panic when your comment at first failed to appear. The WordPress engine actually sent it to me for “approval.” I mean no offense in saying this, but, owing to the length of the comment, and the hyperlinks, the WP engine probably “recognized” it as spam and dispatched forthwith to the purgatory of pending authorial approval.
In any case, you state your case eloquently and profoundly, and I can’t necessarily quibble with any of your points. When I posted the piece I reckoned there might be some blowback, and indeed there was. I understand. Just trust me when I say that I myself am not 6-foot-7. Nor am I an intellectual giant. We all have our shortcomings, so to speak, and I am very high on the list of those who received far more than their fair share.
I don’t have time to address your comment point by point. It’s Friday night, and I live in Austin! But again, your points are fair, well supported and nicely stated. All I can say, in a sort of blanket defense, is that this is a humor site. I never would have written anything of this nature for the main page (in part because the main page won’t have me, but whatever!), nor for any forum other than one that celebrates totally absurd hiiiiiiiiii-larity.
Now, I won’t argue that the hyperbolic absurdity necessarily absolves me of reproof. That is for a reader to decide. That said, it does support the argument that, in a nutshell, I’m kidding. I’m joking. Nowhere do I actually, seriously, stridently state – as a matter of irrefutable fact – that Altuve is less deserving of respect than any other human being who hasn’t yet disqualified himself or herself, by way of some unforgivable act, from that most basic expression of human decency. Between you and me and the Internet, I think Altuve is awesome. But again, this is a humor site, and calling him awesome isn’t funny.
Then again, calling him short ain’t funny, either, at least to some people. In conclusion, I guess all I can say to you and like-minded folks is to not take me seriously.
Please don’t compare this to Jose Abreu (I dont know why you chose Abreu btw, there are lots of much fatter players in the majors). Jose Altuve’s height is a product of genetics. Jose Abreu’s waistline is a product of a shitty diet. Abreu has a choice of not eating like ****. He chooses to stuff himself with fats and sugar, and he pays the price by looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy. If he wants to lose weight, all he has to do is eat less. Altuve doesnt have the privilege of eating less. He can have the healthies diet in the world and his height won’t change an inch. This is where the fatasses of the world have the advantage, they can just eat healthier, but most of them choose not to and decide to blame their fat rolls on their genes, or their parents, or their lifestyle, or some other bullshit. The fatasses never own up to their mistakes, they just stuff another twinkie in their mouth when the going gets rough. Meanwhile the height challenged guys can’t change anything, they have to deal with being mocked by others, and there isn’t anything they could really do about it. Jose Altuve leads the American League in three categories, and even that doesnt stop him from being ridiculed
For the record, I didn’t AT ALL refer to Abreu as overweight. I don’t even consider him overweight. He doesn’t look overweight in the least. He just looks huge — a giant man.
If you read the post, you’ll see that his size, not his “weight,” is the theme.
Just read the post man, my error
I do not think we have IHOP in Canada and my understanding of this place is based largely on commercials from Fox 29 out of Erie, Pennsylvania. But, sitting at an IHOP for three hours eating seems quite impressive, no?
One could probably eat about 15-20 free pancakes during that time which has to be 200%-300% of the average and that’s not counting cherries and whip-cream and stuff.
Update: I consulted yahoo answers (canadian version) and it appears as though most people only eat 2-3 pancakes ( https://ca.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100212103120AAlzpaj ) except for one gentleman who once ate 343,000 pancakes.
That is a fascinating pancake and a conundrum of great incontinence, a phenomenon of the first rarity.
Fat chance of getting anyone, even a little squirt like Altuve, to hold themselves back to 15-20 pancakes when they are FREE!
(And if the pancakes are free, I increase my tip to 25 per cent as my way to say thanks)
No IHOPs in Canada? I thought it was the INTERNATIONAL House of Pancakes?
Does IHOP not recognize the sovereignty of Canada?
We have IHOP in Canada. Also, sitting in IHOP for three hours is unimpressive. Nor is eating.
Respectfully, a very large individual.
I searched google maps for the nearest IHOP and it was 3 hours away from Canada’s biggest and most important city. As this article proclaims: Size matters, fuck all y’all.
Google Maps also told me Toronto was under a severe weather alert, which saved me getting caught in the rain earlier.
it was basically a win/win
Short guys often have big dicks.
I totally just gained three inches. What I’m trying to say is … wait, let me figure this out.
or is it an optical illusion because their legs are shorter?
Darn it, I wanted this article in Jewish humor style. (“How short is he??”)
I’d prefer it in Pootie Tang style, where it ends with: “and you know what else? He’s short, too”.
All these long comments. Must be overcompensating for something.
I also drive a truck.
With TruckNuts (TM), of course.
John shouldn’t feel bad for writing this. I’m sure some of his best friends are short.
i’m most surprised that nate freiman made it to second base allowing for such a photo-op.
Ruben amaro Jr might be an idiot.. wasn’t he recently quoted as not knowing the difference between an at bat and a plate appearance?
Hahahaha another “let’s make fun of Jose Altuve’s height” article. The peak of originality. The guy leads the league in Hits, Stolen Bases, and Batting Average, yet the only thing you talk about is his ******* height. First of all, he is five foot five, less than five inches than the American average, he’s not ******* Frodo for g-d’s sake! Second of all, it’s not like you can control your height, it’s something you’re born with, some people are gonna be shorter than others, and it is NOT okay to joke about someone’s height. Jose is not the number on the height measurement chart, he is not a number on his driver’s license, what he is is a very good second baseman in the major leagues. Now please stop acting like a bunch of seventh graders and grow the **** up
Your comment arrived just as I dispatched the post to the ether.
The people have spoken: This post isn’t – wasn’t – funny, only crass and mean. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, it is now gone to the midden heap.
A brief mea culpa: I had conceived “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Notice…” as an occasional series of riffs on the singular and obvious characteristics of certain ballplayers – among others, Jose Abreu (jumbo), Billy Hamilton (fast), Jose Molina (not fast) and Jose Altuve (not jumbo). With regard to Altuve, I believed that his stature had become so thoroughly ingrained in the baseball conversation that a series of absurd examples might make for some relatively innocuous humor. I believe I believed wrongly, as it were.
As I mentioned to one commenter, I don’t normally do insult humor. I’m not a mean guy. But every so often I take the “Family Guy” let’s-celebrate-the-First-Amendment-at-all-costs approach, in which nothing is sacred and everything is in play, and when I do, it’s easy to brush aside decency in pursuit of the laugh. Humor writing can be a bit of a tightrope walk between gentle satire and cruel mockery, and if a writer isn’t careful, he or she (or I, as it turns out) can easily fall. I guess I got fooled by the number of times I’ve seen Altuve’s size lampooned on TV and the Internet and thought it A-OK to join in.
I should’ve risen above all that, and stayed there.
Okay man, reading your other comments you actually do seem like a nice person. My mistake for getting heated up so fast. Comedy can be a cruel animal, many famous comedians like Louis CK and George Carlin had their share of swings and misses.
No problem at all. I understand.
And yes, comedy is often a cruel animal — rabid and vicious when it’s supposed to be fun.
That’s true about CK, Carlin and other smart comedians — what’s “edgy” and “brilliant” to one audience member is crass and cruel to another. As a humorist/comedian, you’ll never win them all. Sure, you can go all milquetoast in efforts to offend no one, but then you’re a writer for “Home Improvement,” which is most offensive of all.
As for those comments to which you refer, sheesh, I wrote most of them on my iPhone — outside, in the sunlight. That ain’t easy! I’m glad they made some sense.
Somehow in this whole conversational turmoil the fact that José Altuve is wonderful got obscured.
Why do we get so engrossed in arguing about things? Why are people writing anonymous posts online always so angry?
Why can’t we just feel blessed to have people like Altuve, and so many other beautiful people, in our lives?