While the national unemployment rate miserably hovers around the ten percent mark in this Xtremest of Depressions, one name stands out among the huddled masses yearning to make bank: professional hitter Jermaine Dye. The thirty-six-year-old Dye clobbered 27 ding-dongs last year as a White Sock and has amassed 325 homers in his 14 year career. His career OPS+ of 111 is no joke and heck, he even won a Gold Glove back during the Clinton administration.
But now, Dye can not obtain gainful employment. He could not agree on a contract with the power-hungry Nationals and his former teammates are desperate to see him back in the game. Dye openly campaigned for a job with the worsening offense out in Seattle, but was dismissed. Even Dye's former manager Ozzie Guillen chimed in on Jermaine's lack of prospects while figuring out where to grab a bite to eat.
And now, most outspoken infielder and elderly gadabout Orlando Hudson has taken it upon himself to connect the Dye dots to racism. Via Yahoo's Jeff Passan:
"You see guys like Jermaine Dye without a job," Minnesota Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson said Monday. "Guy with [27 home runs and 81 RBIs] and can't get a job. Pretty much sums it up right there, no? You've got some guys who miss a year who can come back and get $5, $6 million, and a guy like Jermaine Dye can't get a job. A guy like Gary Sheffield, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can't get a job. ...
"We both know what it is. You'll get it right. You'll figure it out. I'm not gonna say it because then I'll be in [trouble]."
Calling out owners for being racist is a polarizing subject that not many pro athletes dare touch on, so kudos to Hudson for even broaching the topic. Is he right? Like the existence of collusion, it's not something we can prove easily; what we can prove is this: Jermaine Dye has old person skills and no team really needs someone who is all power and nothing else. Heck, even Corey Patterson can at least play above-average defense.
Even Dye's best skill took a downward turn last season: he slugged an abominably low .297 after the All Star break and collected a career-low 19 doubles for the year.
That doesn't excuse MLB from keeping dudes like Kenny Lofton, Barry Bonds, and Frank Thomas from getting work in their later years. These wildly-popular African-American players had serviceable skills well into their 40s but couldn't find a good-paying job. Shame that Dye's prospects have shriveled up before he even turned 37 but maybe his employment problems don't stem from racism, but rather a limited skill set.