Letters From the December 16/23, 2019, Issue

Letters From the December 16/23, 2019, Issue

Letters From the December 16/23, 2019, Issue

Off base… “Can’t” versus “won’t”…


Off Base

Come on, folks—you can do much better than this. I’m referring to the article “Moneyball Bites Back,” by Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier [October 21]. I made it to the section that reveals that the players (the oppressed) were averaging a salary of $4.5 million in 2018, after which I struggled to keep reading about their “plight.” I had to pinch myself again and again to remind myself that I was reading not Forbes but The Nation, the historical vanguard of the nonelite underclasses.

There is a shocking, widening income gap in this country fueled by the corporate sector, and the sporting industry is no exception. Come on, Nation! I am thoroughly disappointed.
Robert Garavel
brookfield, conn.

Kelly Candaele and 
Peter Dreier Reply

We agree with Mr. Garavel that “the sporting industry is no exception” when it comes to corporate owners using all of their power to skew the economics of professional sports—in this case, baseball—to their advantage. Our article did not argue that baseball players were “oppressed”; we did not use that word. But we did want to help readers of The Nation become more sophisticated observers of the game.

Many fans—perhaps Mr. Garavel is one of them—become confused or angry when professional athletes go on strike to defend their interests, and those fans respond with a knee-jerk “plague o’ both your houses” attitude. We wanted to show why, in the context of baseball, these work stoppages or lockouts have taken place and why another one might be forthcoming. The baseball industry is no different from any other when it comes to who gets what. Either the money goes into the pockets of the owners or it goes to the players on the field whom the fans pay to see. The average ballplayer spends only four years in the major leagues, and the median annual salary is $1.5 million, as we pointed out. While it might be hard for “regular” people to sympathize with them, the attitude of Mr. Garavel is exactly the one that team owners would like the fans to have.

Professional baseball is a game, but it is also a business. The players deserve every penny they can make over the course of their short careers, and fans should support them when the owners attempt to keep their salaries artificially low.

Kelly Candaele
los angeles

Peter Dreier
los angeles

“Can’t” vs. “Won’t”

I need to comment on Calvin Trillin’s “Deadline Poet” in the November 11/18 issue. I disagree with his use of the word “can’t” in the final sentence. The sentence—“He can’t distinguish right from wrong”—implies an inability, something larger than the person, rendering him unable, as if he were a mere victim of circumstances.

Donald Trump is not a victim of circumstances, someone simply unable to decide. He possesses the same ability to use his free will as most humans, whereas “will” means an exercise of consciousness. So the last sentence should read, “He won’t distinguish right from wrong.”

Sandra Kruize
tukwila, wash.


In Seyla Benhabib’s “High Liberalism” [November 11/18], John Rawls is described as having attended a parochial school in Baltimore. In fact, the school he attended was in Connecticut.