Temple: The unfortunate power of labels

From David G. Temple at The Hardball Times on February 10, 2014:

There’s a new movie coming out called Million Dollar Arm that stars Jon Hamm, the lovely Lake Bell, the incomparable Alan Arkin, and the utterly forgettable, yet ever-present, Bill Paxton. You may have heard of it.

It circles around the true story of two Indian cricket players who are recruited to play big-league baseball. History seemed to have proven that these two gentlemen did not, in fact, have million dollar arms, but it’s a term that is bandied about quite a bit. It actually has less relevance than it used to, since a major league pitcher that makes only a million dollars a year probably isn’t that great these days–rookie contracts not withstanding.

Regardless, this is one of numerous phrases used in baseball to describe a player. To say someone has a million dollar arm is to appropriate value to that person. Not a monetary value, per se, but a descriptive value. We know what a million dollar arm means, or at least we think we do. It’s a shortcut, a way to quickly identify what a player is or isn’t.

But below the surface, under the thin veneer of that label, there lie questions. Just like many of the other labels in baseball, it gets messy the deeper you dig.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/the-unfortunate-power-of-labels/

Originally published: February 10, 2014. Last Updated: February 10, 2014.