Friday, May 23, 2014

"My Skin is Against Me": Critical Race Theory & Baseball, Part III. Telling Baseball's Stories

III.  Telling Baseball's Stories
            Critical Race Theorists emphasize the importance of storytelling for out-groups.[i]  These stories counteract the dominant group's own stories that reinforce the notion that their superior position is natural.[ii]  Counter-storytelling disrupts the prevailing mindset that whites belong on top and blacks on the bottom.[iii]  "Stories, parables, chronicles, and narratives are powerful means for destroying mind-set---the bundle of presuppositions, received wisdoms, and shared understandings against a background of which legal and political discourse takes place."[iv]  Whichever of the narratives that prevails constructs our social reality.[v] 
            Although Professor Delgado writes of legal and political stories, there are certainly "presuppositions, received wisdoms, and shared understandings" that permeate baseball lore:  
Is Babe Ruth the greatest player of all time?  Did the greatest players and teams play before integration?  What asterisks should be in the record books?  Can advanced statistical analysis properly evaluate players across generations?
The answers to these questions help to mold how fans and non-fans alike view baseball and its history.  Currently, the prevailing, dominant group story prevails.  A counter-story needs to be told.  By reexamining supposed objective statistics and the common integration narrative, a vastly different view of baseball emerges.

[i] Richard Delgado, Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others: A Plea for Narrative, 87 Mich. L. Rev. 2411 (1989).
[ii] Id.
[iii] Id. 
[iv] Id.
[v] Id.  

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