Wednesday, June 6, 2007

GAME FIFTY SEVEN: Sheffield is wrong/right/wrong/wrong/wrong. (Or: Like a dull knife.)

I don't have much to say about yesterday. Bats went silent, Lenny DiNardo has continued to baffle anyone who ever saw him in a Sox uniform (even while throwing less than 50% strikes yesterday), and Matsuzaka was a hard luck loser for a change. Let's hit something that's been putting butterflies in my stomach.

As you probably all know by now, Gary Sheffield's tongue has set off a few more landmines. I was tempted to just ignore his dull knife that just ain't cuttin' (just talkin' loud and sayin' nothin'), because what else is new with Gary? Read the on the sidebar (I call it required reading for a reason, y'all) and you'll get great factoids/quotes like this:

"Concerns increased, however, about the ill will he created in the clubhouse. Gary had latched on to the idea that he could be a shortstop and blasted the team publicly when Spiers was hurt and Milwaukee kept him at third. When he accused the organization of being racist, GM Harry Dalton’s patience began to wear thin."

(NOTE: Gary Sheffield was an awful shortstop, who later admitted to making errors intentionally because he was dissatisfied, partially because of what he considered scoring errors. "I'll show you some real errors.")

"Believing the Dodgers were spending their money stupidly and sliding in the wrong direction, Gary began lobbying for a trade during the offseason. Prior to spring training, he decided to use the press to get himself run out of town. He insulted his teammates, derided club management, called chairman Bob Daly a liar, screamed racism when the club refused to double the value of his contract, and made vague accusations about misdeeds he had uncovered within the organization."

(NOTE: Race= Not doubling your salary? Even the glass ceiling doesn't extend this far.)

"The only thing that could stop Gary [in Little League] was his explosive temper, which he was barely able to control. Once, when he was late to practice, his coach benched him. Gary picked up a bat and chased the man all over the field."

(NOTE: !!!)

There's a reason Sheffield, a Hall of Fame talent who could only fail to gain induction by the Albert Belle-like animosity he's cultivated over the years, has played on seven different teams; part of it is the bad luck to be a part of two infamous yard sales with the Padres and Marlins; a lot of it is just the Hall of Fame talent to get traded when he inevitably gets angry with his team du jour.

But I'm just attacking his credibility.

I've just gotta consider the holes in his logic. Let's try some.

1) Language:

If you don't understand English, of course you're easier to control. You're in a foreign element. You don't even know the proper words to protest. Some teams have started to deal with this issue with more Spanish-speaking coaches and managers. But it's never going away all the way.

2) Draft:

Latin American players don't go through it. They even get cultivated in baseball academies. It's a sweet deal for teams, albeit one that should be patched up sooner than later because it's just unfair.

3) Black people don't play baseball:

Not in the same numbers. See all the Jackie Robinson related stories that came out on this issue on the eve of Jackie Robinson Day. Baseball is perceived as a white man's game, and a lame one at that, plus it's underfunded due to equipment issues. That applies even down to the cheaper fields: Sandlots aren't available in the numbers that blacktop basketball courts. Football and basketball are sports with more machismo related. Baseball is so unpopular, historically black colleges are recruiting white ballplayers in ever-growing numbers. Trumbull, CT still has a sign up proclaiming it the home of the 1989 Little League World Series. Baseball is the great American pastime. African-Americans have always considered themselves a somewhat separate entity from "America," whatever the hell that is, because, well, history backs this up.

4) You sure...? Latino players are easy to control? You sure you're not pulling your own stereotypes, Sheff? If nothing else, there are major exceptions to the rule:

I have to admit, I'm not the most qualified person to talk about this, and unlike all too many knee-jerk columnists, I will be humble in that. I also think in the interests of thinking this out further, I should hand the mic over to a man I may disagree with sometimes, but I always respect the opinions of, my good friend, Harvard Ph.D candidate in Afro-American Studies Cameron Leader-Picone.

camlp82 (1:27:11 PM): Everyone is simply dismissing the comments but its actualy a fairly universal feeling among both african americans, whites and black latinos
camlp82 (1:27:30 PM): And the sociological evidence backs it up
camlp82 (1:27:56 PM): Whites perceive immigrant blacks as less threatening and harder working
camlp82 (1:28:21 PM): And black latinos differentiate themselves along the same terms to explain their success.

Carlos Guillen and other Latino players must be heard out.

Sheffield, like Jackie Robinson, is a "race man." Unfortunately, some of his opinions seem to be from a somewhat different time. I enjoy Sheff spouting his mouth off, and don't really think America should ever be a land where "Shut up!" is a valid argument. But wrong is wrong, and race baiting, which this very well may be, might not be shouting "FIRE!" in a movie theater, but it can stoke fires. He might be right in a few accidental ways. But 75% wrong ain't right.

Now someone please hit the comments and tell me I'm wrong.

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