Weekly Reading, Oct. 25, 2019

As a journalist, every story I write is supposed to have a snappy lede, or maybe a colorful scene — some way to grab the reader, really. Too many times over the course of my career, I’ve sat in front of my computer for hours, trying in to come up with a decent lede at the expense of, you know, trying to get the meat of the story on paper. No matter how much of what I’m going to write is outlined in another file or in my head, I can’t get started until I’ve typed a lede that doesn’t make me hate myself.

Which is all to say: I don’t think that’s how blogging works. As I begin to work on this post, I’m sitting at my best friend’s apartment in Baltimore, and no matter how many times I stare out the window or stretch my fingers, I cannot come up with a lede… for this weekly reads post… which should give you a good idea of how seriously I’m taking this blog. (Very.)

A blonde woman in a too-big Masters t-shirt sits on a blue couch while a dog the size of a large guinea pig half-barks next to her. She thinks to herself how confusing the noises that tiny dogs make tend to be. Through a window, sunshine slants in, the kind of fall light that’s more like a memory of summer than a preview of winter. She begins to type on her iPad, hundreds of words about what she’s read over the past few days, hoping someone will actually click and read. She rolls her eyes at herself and coughs.

Now that I’m done being an ass, let’s move on to the point of this post: NEWS! My plan is to do a post like this one every Friday, rounding up my favorite stories, tweets, whatever. Here goes…

If you’re a fan of baseball, or sports, or human decency in general, I hope you’ve spent some time this week reading about the Astros, whose assistant general manager, Brandon Taubman, reportedly taunted several woman reporters in the team’s clubhouse after it won the NLCS. The grounds for said taunting: Taubman was extolling closer Roberto Osuna, whom the Astros traded for in 2018 while he was in the middle of serving a 75-game suspension after being arrested and charged with assaulting the mother of his young son.

My former coworker at Sports Illustrated, Stephanie Apstein, reported the clubhouse incident in a column Monday. What came next was a display of ineptitude and hubris on the part of the Astros, which The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh summed up well in this piece. David Folkenflik of NPR also jumped in after Steph’s original reporting, adding more details to an already vomit-inducing report. Now, the Astros are down, two games to none, in the World Series, which might feel somewhat vindicating — but it shouldn’t. Yes, if the Astros lose the series to the Nationals, the argument that Lindbergh puts forth in his story — that the team hopes winning will distract from the at times unsavory way it goes about its business — weakens, but still: What’s changed? Are teams and less incentivized to pursue a player like Osuna at a discount when the need arises? Are victims of abuse any more likely to report or press charges? Are clubhouse environments any less hostile toward women than they were last week?

The answer to all of those questions is likely a resounding no.

UPDATE: I wrote this post Thursday afternoon, and a few hours later, the Astros put out a statement apologizing to the reporters who witnessed the incident. The team also revealed that it fired Taubman.

In other bad looks for baseball this week, an umpire sounded off on Twitter with a rather disturbing sentiment. At least he deleted it, I guess.

Moving away from the world of sports, I enjoyed this New Yorker piece on the history of impeachment, as a concept, which has been around since 1376. Apart from introducing readers to a historical figure named Luther (Brandybottle) Martin — who was apparently a very capable drunk — the story explains how impeachment came to be in England and why post-colonial America decided to take up a political process that had by the time of the Revolutionary War become obscure. The story also discusses past impeachments, of lesser political figures than presidents, and includes this succinct but on-the-nose sentence: “Every impeachment is a political experiment.”

I was fascinated by this story on The Atlantic‘s website this week, in which I learned about something called “stag and doe” parties. Weddings are weird. We all need to chill out about them.

I’m going to read Ronan Farrow’s new book, Catch and Kill, about serial abusers and the societal protections powerful people enjoy, but I’m going to wait to do so for a few months. That’s because I just started She Said, which is about the Harvey Weinstein investigation, and I feel like two Weinstein-related books in a short time span would be overload. That said, I’m curious about what Farrow has to say, and this Vulture piece is kind of a cheat sheet, sharing 19 anecdotes from Catch and Kill. Do not — I repeat, do not! — use this as an excuse to not read the book (read books, people!), but if you’re curious about some of the more sensational aspects of Farrow’s reporting (which I was), it’s a nice summary, and it made me even more excited to get my hands on the book in its entirety in a month or two.

Also, I just saw the news that Farrow reached a deal to do a podcast offshoot of the book, which Variety reports will begin in November.