I heard something on ESPN Radio last week that absolutely made my head explode.
Last week, the Boston Red Sox managed to snag both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez as free agents. Dan Le Batard, who is Cuban and has a sometimes entertaining radio show out of Miami, made some mystifying comment to the effect of “Whoa, what is it with Boston signing all these Latinos?”
Some other guy on the show said, “what do you mean?” Le Batard responded with something to the effect of “Well … all the racism in Boston…”
My head exploded. I couldn’t believe what an idiotic statement that was. No one called him on his B.S., so I’m doing it on the Lounge. It’s fairly well known that Le Batard likes to stir the pot and has some grudge against Boston, but this was just too much.
I mean, never mind the fact that Hanley Ramirez started off in the Red Sox system … and was traded to Florida for another Latino … Mike Lowell. Grrrr … my head is exploding from this idiocy.
First of all, Le Batard, let me throw several names out to you. By far the most beloved member of the Boston Red Sox for the past 12 or 13 years? A guy who never has to buy a drink anywhere in Boston? David Ortiz. A Dominican. When the Boston Marathon got bombed, who was chosen to speak to Boston Red Sox fans…? David Ortiz. Did Ortiz get ripped by Bostonians when he proclaimed “this is our fucking city.” No. Bostonians adored that, and adored him and will continue adoring him the rest of his life.
Let me throw another name at you, Le Batard — Luis Tiant. Luis Tiant was a wildly popular Cuban pitcher for the Red Sox during the 70s. Other than Carl Yazstremski, he was probably the most beloved member of the Red Sox during that 70s. Did he have to face a lot of racism when he first joined the team? Perhaps. I don’t know, it was before my time. It wouldn’t shock me if he did. But, if he did, he later became one of the most popular Red Sox of all time.
Let me throw several other names at you, Le Batard — Tony Armas, Mike Torrez, Luis Aparicio, Pedro Martinez, Mike Lowell, Nomar Garciaparra and even Manny Ramirez. Latino players who played in Boston, were loved by Boston and thrived in Boston — even Ramirez. Boston fans overlooked his flakiness and lousy defence for years and loved him because he was a great hitter. “Manny being Manny” was a big joke in Boston for years. They only turned on him (and rightfully so) after he started faking injuries because $20 million a year wasn’t good enough for him. Now in Boston he is like Stalin in the 1960s Soviet Union. No one speaks of him because of his PED use. But, when he was hitting .330 with 35-40 home runs every year, they loved him in Beantown.
I remember Lowell (a Cuban born in Puerto Rico), had one good year for Boston and Red Sox fans begged the team to pony up and keep him on the team after he became a free agent. The Red Sox listened to the fans and ended up overpaying him, but he happily retired as a Red Sox.
I can also throw a number of other names out there — Adrian Gonzalez, Adrian Beltre, Julio Lugo, Orlando Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Alex Gonzalez and a current Red Sox Xander Bogaerts, Yoenis Cespedes, Rubby de la Rosa and Christian Vazquez. All Latinos. All played (or currently play) for the Red Sox with virtually no controversy over the fact that they’re Latino.
So, it was just such a completely asinine and out of the blue comment on Le Batard’s part. I wish someone had called him on the carpet about it.
Yes, some knucklehead Boston fans tweeted horrible things about P.K. Subban during the NHL playoffs, but the team and organization apologized. Guess what. Wayne Simmonds also had a banana thrown at him in London, Ontario, are you going to condemn the entire city of London for that?
Here’s what is so stupid about what Le Batard said. Did Jim Rice have to put up with a lot of racist crap from the Yawkey organization and from Boston fans? Absolutely he did — 40 years ago. Does Boston have a racist history? Absolutely. Does Boston continue to this day to have issues with racism? Absolutely. Is Boston worse than a lot of other American cities, especially in the South? Is it worse than St. Louis? Doubtful. I saw all those “we support officer Wilson” t-shirts being worn by Cardinals fans during the postseason.
Yes, the Boston Red Sox used to be a really racist organization — the operative part of that sentence is “used to be.” The Phillies used to be really racist, too. But, Tom Yawkey died in 1976, all remaining lingering vestiges of the Yawkey family ownership were removed over a decade ago and John Henry long ago addressed the racism within the organization. Yes, there were race riots in Boston over forced busing — 40 … years … ago.
Every community has its share of racism. Let me additionally throw this at Le Batard. Would he have made a similar astonished comment if the Atlanta Braves were signing black guys onto their team? We all know Georgia has a lot of racism. We all know Georgia Republicans are doing their damnedest to stop blacks from voting. We all know the Atlanta Braves are bailing on a 20-year-old stadium in a black section of Atlanta for a stadium in the white suburbs. Why? Because white Atlanta suburbanites don’t want to go into black inner-city Atlanta to attend a baseball game. I know this because Atlanta fans have flat out admitted this to me. So, where is Le Batard’s astonishment at black guys playing for the Braves?
Or how about Phoenix, Arizona, home to the Diamondbacks? This is a city that has elected and repeatedly re-elected an openly racist sheriff into office. This is arguably the most racist state in the nation and Maricopa County might be the most racist county in the nation. Has Le Batard thrown a hissy fit over the Diamondbacks signing Latino players? I seem to remember that Luis Gonzalez is a huge hero in Phoenix. Is Boston really more racist than Phoenix?
Here’s another one. Le Batard is based in Florida, one of the most racist states in the country, a state in which a nominally white guy can blow away an unarmed black teenager and get off scot-free. A state in which another white guy thought he could get away with blowing away a black kid in his SUV because he was playing his music too loud. A state that is doing its damnedest to stop blacks from voting and forces people on Welfare (ie, in the Republican mind … blacks) to undergo drug testing. Remember when a Muslim bought the Jacksonville Jaguars? Jags fans wrote plenty of ugly, racist things on Twitter about that; it was every bit as bad as the P.K. Subban nastiness if not worse. Yes, Boston had its race riots in the 1970s, but Florida had the Liberty City race riots, the Rosewood massacre and lots and lots of lynchings back in the day.
So, Dan, everywhere has its share of racism … even your own backyard. Guess what, if you can play, very few people in Boston care if you’re a Latino member of the Red Sox.