“I called it years ago. What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out. â€¦ [It’s about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do – being able to control them,” he told the magazine.”Where I’m from, you can’t control us. You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is. And that’s a person that you’re going to talk to with respect, you’re going to talk to like a man.
“These are the things my race demands. So, if you’re equally good as this Latin player, guess who’s going to get sent home? I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys.”
These remarks are from a new GQ interview with Detroit Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield. And all I can say is … wow. To sum up:
1: Black players would rather get “sent home” than be “controlled.” It’s hard to say from this excerpt whether this controlling behavior is something other than the standard coaching abuse that all players take – probably not, because if he felt that minorities were taking more guff than white players, something tells me that would have worked its way into the headline.
2: Latino players are easy to control. Is he saying that they lack the pride that black ball players bring to the yard? That seems to be the drift.
3: These are racial characteristics. I think he must mean culture here, not race, since the things he attributes to Latin players apply to black Latin players.
Sheff clearly thinks he’s figured something out, and I’ll be the first to admit that I lack his first-hand experience of the dynamics he’s describing. It’s always struck me that the things going on in Sheffield’s brain were probably a lot smarter than the things coming out of his mouth, although I can’t really prove it. I’m a little uneasy by the fact that there don’t seem to be any examples or detail here, but maybe there’s more substance in the full GQ piece, which I haven’t yet seen.
What’s distressing, though, is that I’m pretty sure he thinks he’s said something about black athletes that is a) accurate and b) positive. I doubt he perceives that he may have slandered Latino players, and I wonder if he grasps the fact that a lot of blacks are going to be a bit offended by what he seems to be saying about them, as well. He undoubtedly thinks that this all says something bad about Major League Baseball’s management.
I look forward to getting my hands on the GQ and seeing the rest of what he said. Because this is a damned broad brush he’s painting with, and people have had their careers ruined for saying no more than he’s quoted saying in the ESPN story linked above.