MSNBC’s Chris Hayes discusses all manner of important institutions in his new book “Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy.” But in between the serious stuff about Wall Street, Congress and the Catholic Church, Hayes sneaks in plenty of baseball talk. And Jose Canseco stories.
“I’m a big baseball fan in general,” Hayes, a Cubs devotee, told Yeas & Nays. The sport and its steroid problems, he said, make an “interesting and dissectible case study for how norms can break down an institution and how a culture of transgression can set in.”
Yeah, and Jose Canseco makes for great soundbites. The former player, who spilled many MLB secrets in his book “Juiced,” appears on more pages of “Twilight of the Elites” than George W. Bush does.
Hayes likes the guy. “It’s a pretty honest book,” Hayes said of “Juiced.” “It’s rare that people who were caught in scandal own the scandal quite as well as he did.”
“When that book came out, people dismissed it,” he said. “Afterward, a lot of what he said was born out by the facts.”
The takeaway from MLB’s steroid drama, Hayes says, is that it illustrates the same problem that Wall Street has. Everyone’s cheating, which bizarrely means that the competition is the same as it would be if no one was cheating. Take Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s homerun race in 1998: “They both appear to have been on the juice, so it was a weird equalizing factor,” Hayes said. If they weren’t juicing, “they’d essentially be having the same interaction.”
“Actually, you see this on Wall Street,” Hayes added. “People on both sides of the trade are trying to screw each other.”
What’s a fan supposed to do when his heroes disappoint? “It’s hard to get your mind around it as a fan,” said Hayes, who has learned to separate his feelings as a fan and as a reporter. And to not pay too much attention.
“In order to protect my heart,” he said, “at a certain point…I’m not necessarily hanging on every pitch.”