October 29, 2019


blood, dirt & angels

sports editor emeritus

 I will give the Democrat-Gazette’s Wally Hall credit where credit is due.  He says that the Razorback football program is at the lowest ebb in 40 years.  I see no reason to take issue with that statement.  I will go one step further.  I’ve seen some bad Razorback football teams.  Particularly in the past 5-8 years.  But never have I seen them so completely non-competitive on a sustained basis.  This season is shaping up to be a worse nightmare than the year under John L. Smith.  And that is saying something.  

But let us turn to last week’s off-the-field flap involving an MLB umpire of all people.  Perhaps Robert Drake had too much time on his hands seeing as how he is not part of the crew working this year’s World Series.  But for some reason he felt the urge to issue a tweet to an unsuspecting Nation in which he stated he was going to buy an AR 15 if Donald Trump was impeached.  As if that were not sufficiently incendiary he went on to state that “YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVIL WAR.” You being perhaps House Democrats?  Folks from the states of New York and California?  The cast of Saturday Night Live?  He didn’t say.  Hop on “Fox and Friends” to learn of the latest potential targets.

Drake deactivated his Twitter account shortly thereafter and issued what I thought was a sufficiently contrite apology.  Major League Baseball and the MLB Umpires Association issued a statement saying they had “begun to look into it.” And as far as I know have taken no further action.  Which I think is the correct course.  Drake has a right to his opinions even though most baseball fans could give two hoots in Hell what those opinions might be and even if expressing those opinions during the World Series  gave Rob Manfred a migraine.  

But does all speech that is protected by the 1st Amendment automatically inoculate the speaker against adverse consequences from his or her employer?  Of course not.  We in Arkansas know that first hand.  Remember when Lou Holtz wanted to appear in a commercial for Jesse Helms?  Frank Broyles wouldn’t let him do it.  Remember when UA fired Nolan Richardson after he said, in what turned out to be his last presser as Head Coach, that they could take his job if they would pay him his money or whatever he said?  Nolan claimed that his getting canned violated his rights to freedom of speech.  A Federal Judge disagreed.  And this was a governmental entity that fired him.

I suppose theoretically that if Drake had tweeted that he was glad he gave the Commissioner of Baseball a migraine  or that he was going to use his AR 15 to shoot A.J. Hinch then they might have done something to him.  But political speech is highly protected.  And so I think the worst that’s going to happen to Umpire Drake is that the Union and MLB will ask him to lay off the political science until the Series is over.  And think that’s appropriate.  Besides, the ones on the field working the game provided a sufficient distraction last night.  MLB doesn’t need another one.

One final thought about the psychodrama up on the hill.  I read in the paper that Chad Morris’s family will be moving to Fayetteville when their son Chandler’s senior year in high school is over in Dallas.  They might hold off until Dad meets with AD Hunter Yurachek at the end of the football season.  Just sayin’.   

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