baseball Archives - The Jose Vilson


Short Notes: I’m Not Burning My A-Rod Jersey

by Jose Vilson on August 4, 2013

in Jose

Muhammad Ali, Convincing

A few notes:



Why Baseball Is Closer to Education Than You Think

by Jose Vilson on May 11, 2010

in Jose

Sports Illustrated, Yankees Core Four

When Alex Rodriguez got his first huge Texas-sized contract in 2000, I remember the analogies to education come through published reports hard. “Why is it that baseball players can get these huge, lucrative contracts, and teachers, who work more days, can’t get a reasonable fraction of that in their salaries?” The idea of the American meritocracy stood in contrast to the stark reality that this country doesn’t care much or pay attention much to its public servants and dedicates way more resources to ensuring the success of the 100+ major sports corporations that entertain us rather than educate us.

This comparison can stretch deeper into more fundamental questions about baseball and education. How influential is the union? Where and how do we recruit prospects? What kind of performance enhancers are legal and illegal, and are there loopholes? As far as education’s concerned, baseball seems to have had many of the answers we’re battling with now, with interesting twists that we as thought leaders should heed if we ever want to build better schools in this country.

Baseball teams, more than any other sport, resembles a school structure for the following reasons:

  1. Every player’s individual performance has a big effect on the whole team performance. Every homerun, every error, and every pitch can affect how the other players perform on the field.
  2. Every good team needs a great manager, and he (or she) needs a set of assistant coaches who focus on a particular part of the game, and can give a different view of the game.
  3. Usually, the general manager has to make sure the right players are in place through free agency, but more often than not, it’s actually building the homegrown players that can make or break a ball club.

In baseball, every team gets a chance to meet between innings, but when they’re out in the field, they’re isolated by at least nine feet. While they may be right next to each other, they’re constantly thinking about their positions and how the ball’s going to play off the batter. When they’re batting, it’s just the player, the bat, and the ball. When there’s a player on base, the next batter’s individual performance on the next at-bat determines whether the team scores, and ultimately, whether they win.

In the same way, the best schools think of themselves as a team. Each class may have open doors, but the teachers often work individually. Between periods, they’re meeting, talking, and planning. The principal’s also looking at the big picture and putting the pieces together, putting the right coaches and staff in the right places to support the teachers in the building. Every teacher isn’t only responsible for their students in their grade, but responsible for the classes’ performance in coming years as they build their content and skill set knowledge. It’s more than building the school for that year, but for the next few years.

The deans, the specialists, and the custodial staff all play an integral role as well. Some of this staff comes externally, hired from various sources, the core of the school has to be drafted and developed into great players. They have to scout talent that fits the vision and mission of their team. The teachers and principals in good schools also study the game, practice tons, and train to get in top shape. They’re studying the newest and latest, observing their practices.

That’s how dynasties schools should work.

Then it got me to thinking, however, that it’s different for the very reasons I mentioned in the first part of this essay. Does our culture get in the way of doing the best for all of our students? More tomorrrow …

Mr. Vilson, who wishes more people saw the variables of scoring state tests …


Angels' Torii Hunter Screams at Umpire

A few notes:

  • A great example of what happens when we try to control every little part of a staff’s speech in order to make them sound like they’re “normal.” [Vocalo]
  • Google buys into Pi Day. [Mashable]
  • An ed-techy’s case for pedagogy … in tech. [Box of Tricks]
  • You ever wonder what Twitter would be like if someone drew out everything some random celebrity said, spelling mistakes and all? Wonder no longer. [TweetMuseum]

There’s something funny that emerges whenever you put several opinionated, proud, and disconcerted members into a confined place and make them play nice. This doesn’t always happen. While in some places, there are no bosses manipulating the intricacies of these relationships, Major League Baseball is certainly not one of them.

In one of the more “controversial” stories of the off-season, Torii Hunter of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim said Black Latino players are “impostors,” later stating that they’re not Black players but Latin American players. The outrage behind the comments spread amongst many Latinos, especially those concerned with the racial disparities across Latin America and its implications here in the United States. That notwithstanding, I think the definition of “Black” to Torii Hunter falls in line with many African-American in the States, and that’s the part we lose in the sensationalization of this topic.

This is nothing new. People like Gary Sheffield have been discussing the lack of black players and the “replacement” of African-American players with Black Latino players or Latino players as a whole, and in a sense, I agree. African-American baseball players have been encouraged to go to other sports like basketball and football. I’m not a fan of baseball’s quiet underground market for Latino players either. I see there are tons of factors playing into Torri’s comment, much of which I understand.

Yet, the one thing that seems to perpetuate this divide is simply these misgivings about nomenclature and shared ancestry / struggle / heritages. This also unfortunately showed up at the SXSW conference, highlighting social media and technology use around the world, the biggest such conference. In the Blacks in Tech meeting, Kety Esquivel discussed an incident with a particular provocateur who questioned why she and an Asian panelist were included in this panel. Kety gracefull answered the question, and upon further reflection, posted this:

There is always not just one truth.  My father’s lessons from childhood when he taught me Aesop’s fable about the elephant are as true now as ever.  We are all blind men and women standing around the elephant and all of the pieces that we hold are true and yet none of them are true on its own individually.  The elephant has a tail that resembles a rope.  The elephant has an ear that resembles a fan.  The elephant has legs which resemble tree trunks.  And in the end it is in truth an elephant.

The elephant here is the truth, and while everyone has their truth, we become less blind when we work together towards finding the elephant, not by sticking to our assertions about what the trunk might feel like. That’s where we’re missing the point.

It’s also the opportunity where we get to talk about elephants as the larger beings they are.

Jose, who’s working with transformations this week in math …


Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez: Even The Maligned Get Realigned

November 8, 2009 Jose
Alex Rodriguez, 2009 Champion

Much of the last 5-6 years of my New York Yankee fandom has been spent on defending the Yankees’ decision for trading for, and eventually resigning Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. I’ve had so many heated battled with Red Sox fans and fellow Yankee fans about the merits of getting one of the greatest players of this […]

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The MVP Matters Less When The Team Goes To The World Series

October 27, 2009 Jose
Alex Rodriguez Screaming With Mariano Rivera, Celebrates ALCS Win

Quick: name the last 5 (MLB) World Series MVPs (Cole Hamels, Mike Lowell, David Eckstein, Jermaine Dye, Manny Ramirez). Those of you searching on Wikipedia right now hopefully kept reading. Otherwise, you’re probably at a loss. Now, name the last five teams quickly, and that’s probably an easier task (Phillies, Red Sox, Cardinals, White Sox, […]

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In Search of A-Rod’s Soul

August 7, 2008 Jose

Make no bones about it; I got love for Alex Rodriguez, the 3rd baseman for the New York Yankees. His swift and graceful swing, his trot, and that swagger he shows when he comes up to bat. The ease in which he picks up balls coming down the left field line and gets them to […]

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