Whether White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is speaking the truth or pulling nonsense out of his patoot, he certainly has raised the ire of MLB once again with controversial statements that speak directly to racial inequality in baseball. In 2007, Guillen questioned why the steroids probe went after Latin players when BALCO, the investigation's big target, was based in California and not somewhere like the Dominican Republic.
This time, Ozzie wants to know why Asian players get better perks than Latin players, little bonuses like translators and free video store memberships. Guillen contends that Asian players are given the team-employed translators immediately upon being signed while young Latino players are hustled into the minor leagues and given nothing more than team-issued underwear and a complete twelve season DVD box set of "Green Acres" with which to learn-a-da-language.
The Associated Press reports Ozzie's fiery rant prior to yesterday's White Sox-A's contest:
Guillen, who is from Venezuela, said when he went to see his son, Oney, in Class-A, the team had a translator for a Korean prospect who "made more money than the players."
"And we had 17 Latinos and you know who the interpreter was? Oney. Why is that? Because we have Latino coaches? Because here he is? Why? I don't have the answer," Guillen said. "We're in the United States, we don't have to bring any coaches that speak Spanish to help anybody. You choose to come to this country and you better speak English.
While Ozzie makes salient points that Latino players are not exactly welcomed with red carpets in America, he is missing the boat by comparing the Latino's struggle with that of the Asian ballplayer. It's actually quite convenient that Oney was able to translate for seventeen of his teammates and it's quite remarkable that 17 foreign players all spoke the same language.
Think about the ethnic makeup of baseball players: a whopping 27 percent of MLBers are Latino while just 2.3 percent are from Asia. And we must divide that tiny number up a bit further to account for the varying home languages spoken by these players: Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean just to name three.
Of course baseball teams need to hire translators for Asian players because there are so few of them! And there are even fewer coaches, scouts, managers, executives, and peanut vendors who speak Asian languages, compared to the abundance of Spanish-speaking folk in the game today. Ozzie should be celebrating the ethnic diversity in baseball and cheering the way the sport has crossed oceans in its appeal, not playing the race card about PED investigations.
More on Ozzie's son Oney, who fizzled out of baseball after spending half of 2008 in the Sally League: a year earlier, he was a teammate of one Po-Yu Lin with the Appalachian League's Bristol White Sox, who indeed employed a translator named Steve Xiu. Xiu is currently employed by the Detroit Tigers as a translator for pitcher Fu-Te Ni.
But Ozzie Guillen missed one important fact when discussing the racial divide in baseball: Oney's teammate Po-Yu Lin, like his countryman Fu-Te Ni, is Taiwanese, not Korean. Yeah, I know Ozzie, they all look alike to me, too.