There are sports injustices everywhere, and have been throughout history.
Some are huge, international sports injustices, like the way the 1972 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team was robbed of a gold medal, after a controversial finish against the U.S.S.R.
Some are smaller injustices, like Dan Marino, one of the greatest QBs of all time, never winning a Super Bowl.
I’m not 100 percent sure where this one I’m about to talk about ranks in the pantheon, but it’s pretty damn high up there.
There have been no more than eight or nine people in the history of baseball more important than Marvin Miller. Off the top of my head, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Branch Rickey, Hank Aaron, Curt Flood, but not too many others.
Marvin Miller was a little-known economist and labor leader in the 1960s who eventually turned baseball and its business model on its head. Throughout intensive persuasion, negotiation and legal challenges, he broke MLB’s draconian rules restricting player movement and ushered in the beginning of free agency, which led to an explosion of salaries.
Literally every baseball player in the past 40 years who made millions playing baseball owes a debt to Marvin Miller. Players were treated like disposable parts, with no rights, and were told over and over again they were lucky just to be playing, and to be grateful they got played at all.
Miller changed all that.
And yet he was never elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame while he was alive. Decade after decade went by, and the committees that choose such things never saw fit to put him in Cooperstown.
Miller always said that if he wasn’t elected while he was still alive, he never wanted to be inducted. But finally, way, way too late, Miller is going in.
Sunday night it was announced he’d be elected by a special committee, and next summer a seminal figure in the game’s history will finally be rightfully honored.
It is a disgrace that it took this long. But at least future generations will be aware of the Babe Ruth-sized mark Miller left on the game.
**Next up today, this is one of those times when I wish, as much as I love my two sons, I wish I had a daughter as well. Because I would soooo love to one day do what this father did.
Madelynn Sumpter is a teenage girl who apparently tried to sneak boys into a sleepover party she was having, and she got caught. Her parents gave her a choice of punishments: She could either give up her phone for an entire month, or let her parents use it to post to all of her social media accounts for two weeks.
As I think most 15-year-olds would, Maddi chose the latter, and the results are spectacular.
Her Dad Larry took over Maddi’s Instagram and TikTok accounts, and it’s fabulous. He posted funny cooking videos, dressed up (above) in weird outfits, and basically humiliated his daughter in the best ways possible.
When her punishment ended, Maddi’s first post was awesome. It’s a pic of her as a toddler with the caption: “I’m back sweeter than ever and ready to make good choices.”
Well done all around, Sumpter family.
**Finally today, wanted to highlight an extraordinary piece of journalism just published by the New York Times Magazine and ProPublica, by the woman who I think is the best investigative reporter in America, Pamela Colloff.
I’ve highlighted her work here in the past, but Colloff truly is incredible. She spends months and months digging into a criminal-justice topic (usually that of a person serving decades in prison for a crime they didn’t commit) and excavates so much truth, and generates so much outrage, that as a journalist I sort of stand in awe.
This new piece looks at the amazing weight the legal system gives to jailhouse snitches, and how so often their false, coerced information leads to death sentences for innocent men.
Colloff uses the story of Paul Skalnik, one of the most prolific snitches of all time, and how many people he helped convict on non-existent evidence.
It’s a long, long read, but gripping and well worth it. This is why I donate to ProPublica as much as I can, because they do such important work.