Jeff Pearlman

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Greg Ball, Putnam County and Why I Moved Away

Had the above Twitter exchange with Greg Ball, Republican Representative of Putnam County, N.Y.

Ball is my least-favorite genre of politician—the Tea Party thug who uses illegal immigrants as a wedge to piss off ignorant angry white rural folk already infuriated over our African-American president. In the 2010 election, Ball ran an ad that featured images of Hispanic-looking men working on a Putnam County building. Ball knew not whether these folks were actually illegal, but felt comfortable breaking out their images in a spot decrying the loss of jobs to foreigners.

Wait, here it is …


I grew up in Putnam. I know Putnam. I love Putnam. Hell, my parents remain in Putnam. But there was—and still is—a problem, and it relates directly to the blissful ignorance that permeates too many of the towns. Back when I was a kid, the n-word was used regularly; we Jews had coins tossed our way; it was as if one was identified—first, foremost and only—by the color of his skin or name of his religion. Is it still so? Not nearly as much. But thugs like Ball depend on such thinking; depend on the sheltered nature of many to utilize a message of divisiveness and hate.

The president isn’t one of us. How dare “those people” come to our county. On and on and on.

OK, I’m babbling.


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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life