By this point in human history, dealing with racism should be a pointless exercise. As evolved as we humans have become as a species, racism as we know it should be completely eradicated. But it ain't. It's not even close. Even in a venue as diverse as our national pastime, race still matters and it forces writers like us to bring it up even when it makes us look like liberal schmucks (which, granted, we are...sometimes).
Of all the posts we've done that sparked discussion elsewhere in the baseball blogosphere, few have received as much feedback and attention as the one where we called out writers for associating "lack of hustle" with minority players. Some simple research showed me that, for the most part, white players don't get criticized for their effort:
So, how many white players showed up in the search results? One. That's it, just one. David Wright, and the item was on a silly fantasy news website, hardly a bastion of hard-hitting journalism. This was not a case of cherry-picking results to prove my point; no, I searched long and hard to find exceptions! Twenty-one black or Latino players were called out for "lack of hustle" by a writer and/or manager, versus just one white player. This is not a coincidence.
Are we to believe that David Wright is the only white player in the majors who had problems hustling? Has Adam Dunn never lollygagged? Did Cal Ripken run out every single infield grounder? Doubtful. Yet we never hear of managers or columnists calling out white guys for "lack of hustle".
I stand by my hypothesis. I am not accusing the majority of writers of being racist. But there are deep-seated opinions in the subconscious that can associate certain words or phrases with a player based on his appearance or mannerisms. Also, I'm 100% convinced that some writers and some players are actual card-carrying racists.
But I won't name names lest I get sued for too much #realtalk. Instead, let's look back at some of the racist stuff that fell into the gray area:
- There was Richard Griffin and his thoughts on Latino behaviors.
- Some local schlub columnist attacking our friends Rinku and Dinesh with hack jokes about India.
- Matt Vasgersian fell victim to the "this thing looks like that thing" hack joke.
- And the players did their part, too. Mike Bascik lost it on Twitter because of some dumb basketball game.
- An unidentified Blue Jay made an off-color joke.
Where do we go from here? Well, we're shutting down the blog so you're on your own, dear reader. Either that or you are thrilled that we our shutting our traps for good. But: casual racism is our true enemy. We as twenty-first century baseball fans need not fight the monstrous racial divide that players and fans had to overcome in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. These issues we deal with today? Small potatoes.
So I ask you to be on the lookout for beat writers and columnists who stumble into subtle jabs at a dude because of his skin color. It's the seemingly innocent observations that can prolong injustice.