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Let's start the day with something non-controversial: racism

Feb 11, 2010, 7:57 AM EDT

Moshe Mandel at TYU wants to know if it’s not curious that some writers assume that Felix Hernandez will be more likely to become complacent and lazy now that he has a big contract than Justin Verlander will.  Or whether there is any rational explanation for thinking that Dustin Pedroia “cares more” about his team and winning than Robinson Cano.  What’s really at play here, Mandel wonders:

Baseball fans are commonly exposed to this sort of dichotomy, in which
white players are often presented as gritty and do everything they can
to maximize their talents, while minority players are “athletic” and
“smooth,” and “make it look easy out there.” The successes of white
players are attributed to effort, while the successes of non-white
players are explained by inherent ability. Failures by minorities
players are often explained by pointing to a lack of effort. Failures
by white players have a way of occasionally being rationalized away or
even forgotten.

The scientific name for this is aversive racism, and it’s pretty rampant. Orlando Hudson is fast. The white guy is a “possession receiver.” The black leftfielder is “gifted.” The white second baseman is scrappy and likes to get his uniform dirty. And as Mandel points out, what is the deal with Paul O’Neill not getting any crap for not running out those ground balls in Game 3 of the 1999 World Series?

Thought provoking stuff, definitely worth a click-through to TYU this morning.

  1. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    this is tired and played out, then to use these labels towards whites as an excuse to label people as Racist is very Lame and unfair. And so ridiculous it’s pretty funny when you think about it. If Racism was so rampant as many people want to think??? Would we need to take something as ridiculous as white players being called Gritty as an excuse to yell racism???

    [Note, trying to post in a different way so it goes through]
    Merely saying that a person is gritty/gutty or a person is lazy isn’t, per se, racist. However, when you take two players of seemingly equal talent, as Moshe mentions in his comments with Verlander and Felix, and a scout thinks one might become complacent even though his makeup doesn’t suggest it, and the other won’t, what are you basing this prediction on?
    A commenter at TYU brought up a great example. Brett Favre. Did you know that Brett Favre, assuming he actually retires with the Vikings this time, has thrown an INT on his last pass for the last three teams he’s played for? And two of those three, were in playoff games that cost his team the game? That’s terrible, yet all we hear is about “how much fun he has” and “how he’s a gunslinger” etc etc etc. As a Philly fan (I assume you follow the Eagles too), what would you do if McNabb did the same thing?

  2. The Common Man - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    “The fact that individual players can overcome the prejudices doesn’t change or excuse the fact that the prejudices exist as a default.”
    Your law degree is showing. :) I agree entirely, however. “Racist” is an unfortunate term, because their are a) degrees of racist behavior and beliefs (kind of like how Babe Ruth and Bruce Sutter are Hall of Famers without being anything close to the same caliber) and b) we should be able to talk about a general racist cultural attitude without indicting individuals.

  3. Jonny5 - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    Well I watch every Phills game, and that’s my perception. I also see Utley run out obvious ground outs full speed every time, not so with Mr. Rollins, to be honest. Victorino would be the second hardest worker imo by that observation alone. I like Prince fielder in this respect as well. Every time I have seen the Brewers play he’ll be a freight train running down to first no matter what. Of course i wouldn’t make a statement that he’s one of the hardest workers because I only saw a hanful of games. But does my peception Utley is the hardest worker on the team mean I’m biased?? LOL!

  4. Jonny5 - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:31 AM

    It wasn’t mine dude. If you look, i’m saying that it IS NOT racism. The liked article was quite clear on which direction they were going with these ridiculous accusations. You supported it. So whatever..

  5. ralphdibny - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    I thought that the too-easy stereotype on JD Drew was that he is a selfish crybaby, someone who won’t play through minor injuries or do other things to sacrifice himself for the sake of the team. Manny Ramirez was the lazy one, right? (Seriously, I think these 2, and the language used to describe their supposed shortcomings, would make a great case study for this topic. Both are very talented players, both have flaws that have been endlessly discussed, but in strikingly different language.)

  6. rogmon - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    perfect example – Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Go back and watch old NBA films. When they both came into the league, Bird was a hustler, intelligent, brilliant, hard worker who never stopped in his efforts to become a great basketball player. All true. Magic was smooth and naturally talented, a showman, a freak. All true. The issue is that you could have labled either athlete with any of the words but they never did. The truth was that both of these incredible basketball players worked their butts off to become hall of famers. In their new book a recruiter talks about going to Magics house to recruit him. It was snowing. His mom said he wasn’t home, he was on the local outdoor courts practicing his shooting. I think it’s all remnants from the 50′s when minority players were accepted into the professional leagues. Black players had to be gifted, because everyone knew about the work ethics of whites and how lazy blacks were. If blacks succeeded it had to be because of talent. I don’t notice it as much today. You still here it slip once in a while, more directed at the Latino players than anyone else. We all know how lazy the latins are. wink wink

  7. Jonny5 - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    “A commenter at TYU brought up a great example. Brett Favre. Did you know that Brett Favre, assuming he actually retires with the Vikings this time, has thrown an INT on his last pass for the last three teams he’s played for? And two of those three, were in playoff games that cost his team the game? That’s terrible, yet all we hear is about “how much fun he has” and “how he’s a gunslinger” etc etc etc. As a Philly fan (I assume you follow the Eagles too), what would you do if McNabb did the same thing? ”
    People love Brett, i do too. there is not, by far a tougher QB in the NFL. he’s old too. But he’s the only QB who gets a pass. It’s not as if every white QB gets a pass. Would i trade Mcnabb for Favre? heavens no. And mcnabb is also called a gunslinger, the dude has an awesome arm, he’s one of the best, i do wish he was “Favre tough” though. just because all the announcers love Favre doesn’t mean they’re racially biased, just Biased when it comes to their golden boy.

  8. HSolo - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    Graig Calcaterra, to whom do I report you for stupidity? I always read your stuff, but now you’re getting out of hand. Totally stupid.

  9. Moshe Mandel - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    I wrote the linked article, and within it specifically stated that I was not calling anyone racists. As The Common Man said above, we should be able to talk about a general racist cultural attitude without indicting individuals. You are attributing the word racist to me when the title of the post was racism without racists.

  10. Jonny5 - Feb 11, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    “I wrote the linked article, and within it specifically stated that I was not calling anyone racists. As The Common Man said above, we should be able to talk about a general racist cultural attitude without indicting individuals. You are attributing the word racist to me when the title of the post was racism without racists.”
    Just because you title a thread as you did, does not mean that what is contained within it doesn’t scream, ” Hey these guys are so racist, it shows even when they’re on their best behavior.” You don’t know them. I’m not saying racism doesn’t exist, I’m not saying some announcers aren’t psuedo racists. I’m saying these examples are terrible, as well as inflammatory and irresponsible. You should take more pride in how you troll for attention. That’s my opinion of you after reading your words. Hey, fair is fair right??? If you can do it, why can’t I??? See where I’m going here??? Your words will now be construed as I see fit… how do you like it?? ;>P

  11. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    Graig Calcaterra, to whom do I report you for stupidity? I always read your stuff, but now you’re getting out of hand. Totally stupid.

    Making a comment regarding someone’s intelligence, and then getting said person’s name wrong when it’s written at the top of the page is hilarious.

  12. Moshe Mandel - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    That’s fine, you are free to react however you so choose. However, I do think that I stated within the post a number of times, that these people are neither racists nor bad people. We all have these sort of biases on some level. I respect your disagreement, even though you called me a troll for attention, something that people who frequently read my work would likely disagree with. But again, you are free to have your opinion.

  13. Wooden U. Lykteneau - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Too bad you’re only half-right about Jeter.

  14. The Common Man - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Well gee, Jonny, it would be hard to talk about a racist cultural atmosphere without examples of that atmosphere, wouldn’t it? If Moshe had not included examples, wouldn’t you be screaming for them?
    The examples Moshe provides are entirely relevant. Based on nothing, one of Jayson Stark’s sources claims that the money won’t faze Verlander, but it might make Felix complacent. Why? Based on what? How are they coming to that conclusion? If “his makeup doesn’t suggest it, why would Hernandez be more subject to becoming complacent than Verlander? If you’ve got an explanation, I’m sure we’d be happy to hear it.

  15. Evan - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    This is all pretty baseless and silly.
    Scrappy = undersized, not extremely atheletic and overachieving. Dustin Pedoria fits the bill because he won the MVP award at like 5’7-5/8 175 lbs. He’s not the fasted guy in the league, but he’s a patient hitter and a tough out.
    I would describe Mugsy Bogues as scrappy.
    Gritty = emotional, intense and good. The word basically comes from one gritting their teeth. I think of plenty of white and black players I would describe as gritty.
    Zambrano, Youkilis, O’Neil and Kevin Garnett are athletes I would describe as “gritty.”

  16. Evan - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    This is all pretty baseless and silly.
    Scrappy = undersized, not extremely atheletic and overachieving. Dustin Pedoria fits the bill because he won the MVP award at like 5’7-5/8 175 lbs. He’s not the fasted guy in the league, but he’s a patient hitter and a tough out.
    I would describe Mugsy Bogues as scrappy.
    Gritty = emotional, intense and good. The word basically comes from one gritting their teeth. I think of plenty of white and black players I would describe as gritty.
    Zambrano, Youkilis, O’Neil and Kevin Garnett are athletes I would describe as “gritty.”

  17. Jonny5 - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Just as you’re free to say what you want than strongly imply with bogus “research” the exact opposite all in the very same article. And I understand, it’s slow for baseball season now, you will do what you need to for the sake of your job. Honestly after reading the comments on your blog, what did the readers take away from it??? Most agreed it was Racism, so implying things even though you may say you aren’t do get through as they were meant to. Even if done subliminally.

  18. The Common Man - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Again, Evan, this is not an individual thing. Just because YOU would describe Carlos Zambrano as “gritty” doesn’t meant that the larger culture would describe him as something different. I know this is hard for a lot of people to accept, but this general concept isn’t necessarily about you.

  19. smsetnor - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    No one is saying that people are racist for thinking that Pedroia is gritty and scrappy. It’s just that we fail to apply those terms equally across the board. Why don’t we ever say that people like Jeff Franceuor are athletes. Why don’t we come out and say Orlando Hudson is gritty? I think that is what is going on here. The descriptors aren’t the problem, it’s just that we don’t tend to use them across the color spectrum.
    This has always irked me when it comes to the term “gym rat” and basketball.

  20. Jonny5 - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    My point, with his “examples” or without, the article is still just as baseless, inflammatory, and irresponsible.
    “one of Jayson Stark’s sources claims that the money won’t faze Verlander, but it might make Felix complacent. Why? Based on what? How are they coming to that conclusion? If “his makeup doesn’t suggest it, why would Hernandez be more subject to becoming complacent than Verlander? If you’ve got an explanation, I’m sure we’d be happy to hear it.”
    Exactly. “How” is a good question, ask Stark how he comes to that conclusion before you imply it’s about race. I’m sure he could explain himself better than I could. the fact is these are baseless accusations until the people who are pointed out can explain themselves. Had Moshe done this? He wouldn’t have had an article period would he have?

  21. Moshe Mandel - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    “And I understand, it’s slow for baseball season now, you will do what you need to for the sake of your job.”
    This is a hobby, not a job. Blogging costs me money, and more traffic does nothing for me because I have no major advertisers.
    And again, you are melding racism and racists, something the other commenters were, for the most part, able to differentiate. Thanks for the discussion, it was interesting.

  22. The Common Man - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    Jonny, why are you turning this into a personal attack against Moshe, accusing him of being deliberately sensational in an attempt to drive traffic, rather than assume he’s bringing up a topic that a) a lot of people are interested in discussing calmly and rationally without name-calling and personal attack and b) something that many people believe is a problem in our culture: how people of color are perceived (and sometimes not even noticed) by the larger society? If the only way you can win the argument is to try and cast aspersions on the author’s motives, I don’t think you’re doing a very good job of making your point. It’s possible to argue that certain ingrained cultural assumptions lead more easily to evaluations that we can interpret as being racially biased without saying that someone is a capital “R” Racist.
    But by all means, continue to get frustrated and accuse Moshe of additional indiscretions. It’s getting fun to watch as you get more frustrated and shrill.

  23. The Common Man - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    “the fact is these are baseless accusations until the people who are pointed out can explain themselves.”
    The fact is that the scout from Stark’s article has refused to be named for the story. There is no way for us to ask him to explain himself, particularly if Stark isn’t going to do it for us. So all we are left with is the data we have at hand. There is nothing tangible to base any fear that Felix will get complacent, and so we are left to examine the differences between Felix and Verlander. In light of their obvious difference (and I don’t mean that one lives in Seattle and the other lives in Detroit), and the ways that white players and players of color are talked about differently in our culture, I think it’s reasonable to bring the possibility up. There is an awful lot of smoke around this topic for there not to be any fire.

  24. Jay the Bruce - Feb 11, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Ever notice that the only people that roll their eyes when someone attributes something to race, or who even use the term “race card”, are white? Additionally, ever notice how the only people who want things to be “color blind” are white?
    Just because you have black friends or don’t factor race when hiring someone.. does not mean that race has no effect on your judgment.
    This does not make you racist, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen either. It’s just not that simple. And to suggest that you, as a white person or a black person, don’t let race affect your judgment AT ALL, or have some effect on the words you use to describe people, is just naive and delusional. To suggest that makes you a racist is also delusional. Let’s not just dismiss this article because it attempts to delve into these murky areas.. murky areas it’s much easier to pretend don’t exist.

  25. Jonny5 - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    I’m not making a personal attack per se…. I’m just flipping the script. I’m not attacking him any more than he did to certain people in his article. Don’t you see? If Moshe can do it, so can I. I’m sure it feels much the same to him as it does those implicated in his article. I’m not Angry. I don’t see where you’d get that from.. I also wasn’t name calling.. I’m giving my opinion of the rubbish I read, that’s all. So while you excuse Moshe for his one sided article implying certain people are pseudo racists without their side of the story, i’ll call it BS. I’m only pointing out the fact that this is a ridiculous measuring device for racism. This is akin to saying it’s racist to have white stripes painted over the black top. Or Polar bears are protected because they’re white. Lol!! seriously how anyone could take these words and construe them in a negative way is beyond me. The fact is someone is deciding this is a form of racism, I don’t need to buy it. As a matter of fact i can reject it as BS, which IMO it is.
    For Moshe…
    “And again, you are melding racism and racists, something the other commenters were, for the most part, able to differentiate. Thanks for the discussion, it was interesting.”
    I don’t see how I could ever meld the two……. If I were to partake in racism, even if subliminally, i would be?? ______

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