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Guillen: Asian players treated much better than Latinos

Aug 1, 2010, 4:01 PM EDT

Most of Ozzie Guillen’s rants can be ignored.  They’re usually plenty insightful, but he spouts off so often that it almost becomes repetitive.  And then he’ll surprise you, and really say something that makes you think.  That’s what he did Sunday while talking to reporters before Chicago’s series finale with the Oakland A’s at U.S. Cellular Field.

Guillen noted that Asian players are assigned translators by the clubs that sign them and Spanish-speaking Latino players are not.  Guillen also noted that few young Latino players are educated about the effects and consequences of performance-enhancing drugs and that those same players are cast aside if they don’t sign with major league clubs before the age of 16 or 17.  All the while American college kids can hold off until 22 or 23 to develop their skills and build a resume that includes experiences beyond the game of baseball.  Like college degrees.  You know, backup plans.

“Very bad. I say, why do we have Japanese interpreters and we don’t have a
Spanish one. I always say that. Why do they have that privilege and we
don’t?” Guillen said Sunday.
“Don’t take this wrong, but they take advantage of us. We bring a
Japanese player and they are very good and they bring all these
privileges to them. We bring a Dominican kid … go to the minor
leagues, good luck. Good luck. And it’s always going to be like that.
It’s never going to change. But that’s the way it is.”

Everything Guillen said is correct, and while it’s not a fun topic to think or talk about, young prospects from the Dominican and other Latin countries are often treated like cattle — ridden hard and fed well until there’s an inkling of regression.  Then it’s time for the slaughter house.  Or zoo exhibits — dressed up in the club’s garb and paraded through the farm system until there’s a slight fading of skill.

Sure, the Latino players that do it the right way or have infallible talent will reach the end of the rainbow in the form of multi-million dollar contracts.  But if Guillen’s comments at least raise awareness for the treatment of lesser Latino prospects, then mission accomplished.

  1. davidc45629 - Aug 1, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    wah wah wah…this country has 10% unemplyoyment and your 300K a year (for 6 months I might add) employees aren’t treated well? FU

  2. JBerardi - Aug 1, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    He’s not talking about major league players making 300K a year, he’s talking Latin players in the low minors who make less than 10K a year. Try reading the article, dummy.

  3. nps6724 - Aug 1, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    Very few (if any) Asian players go through the minor leagues; they come from their pro leagues. So they are expected to come right into the major leagues and function. Hispanic players, OTOH, go into our minor leagues at 16-18 years old. So they have more than enough time to learn English in the minors before they are needed. Not only that, but every team has at least 3 Hispanic players, so if 1 of them can speak English, then you have a translator. Only a handful of teams have ANY Asian players and I think the most any team has is 2 (I know the Braves have Kawakami and Saito).

    If we want to delve into it, how about all the advantages Hispanic players get. They can pick who they sign with in many cases; they don’t have to worry about the draft. They also get a head start on everyone else; they can start at 16 while the youngest an American kid can start is after they graduate high school. In most cases, that’s 2 additional years of playing time. Not to mention the lack of verifiable ages for many Latin players that allow an 18-year old to be signed because everyone thinks he’s 16.

    Also, no one denies these Latin kids a college education. It’s not the US’s fault they don’t have that chance in their own country. Would it be fair to the rest of us if these Latin kids were brought into the US and given a free college education? No, it wouldn’t.

    Each race has its advantages and disadvantages in the rules. Ozzie makes a good point, but it’s self-serving and he lacks the brains to think of any other view point but his own.

  4. ben s - Aug 1, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Exactly, he’s not talking about the major leaguers. People that hate athletes because of their money/fame annoy me so much, it’s not their faults that their making money! If you were offered that money you would take it in a heartbeat, you wouldn’t want less! I’d rather it go to the millionaire players (well, most of them, some of them aren’t millionaires) than the BILLIONAIRE owners.

  5. bandolero - Aug 1, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=3609833
    Although signing bonuses have dramatically increased, many Latino players fork over huge portions of those bonuses to buscones. At ages 16-17, these players devote their lives to baseball, and often get placed on diets of PEDs. If caught, their careers can be forgotten about in the same way that their educations already had been. So to recap: money gone, future income gone, no education. I’m sure transitioning to the real world is a breeze for them, especially when taking into consideration the fact that places like the DR dubiously claim unemployment rates higher than 15 percent. Do you really think that these players are treated fairly, or that people like Guillen shouldn’t raise awareness for serious sociopolitical ills, davidc45629?

  6. JBerardi - Aug 1, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    Yeah. I wish every day that I had the immense privileges that a 16 year old kid from the Dominican enjoys.

  7. Buccofan - Aug 1, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Imagine the screaming if foreign-born players had to attend English classes as part of their contracts. I favor it personally, but that’s just me.
    I’d like to see each MLB club assign a bilingual staffer to each of its affiliates, as a backup to help with situations that arise and to monitor each player’s progress with his English.

  8. John_Michael - Aug 1, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    Are you saying that American kids who complete high school are at a disadvantage to Latino kids of the same age because they have an education?

  9. tacklebox - Aug 1, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    It seens to me that EVERY team in the Major Leagues have a Spanish speaking player. There are alot of people that take advantage of people. Ever heard of Chavez? Drew Silva, it is people like you that make the Guillens of the world look bad…

  10. CYGNUS X-1 - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    ok you don’t like the system then change it. make it so latin players can’t sign before they are 18. maybe if they put half the effort into an education as they do playing ball maybe the d.r. and other latin countries would not be so poor. but no once again the U.S.A is the problem for giving them the oppertunity to come and play the game they love so much and earn a lliving doing it.so not only must baseball sign them they must also babysit them and do everything for them instead letting them find out what the real world is like.as nps said most asian players have already played in thier pro leagues and are ready to play major league ball and while I think they should be required to learn and speak english I am sure somebody would find that offensive and sue.bottom line is nobody makes them play baseball or forces them to come to the states.

  11. JBerardi - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    I really don’t understand this obsession with making every foreign born player learn English. Learning a new language as an adult is very difficult, and these guys aren’t here to do office work. I’ll ask the same question I ask every time someone makes this suggestion: how many languages do YOU speak?

  12. nps6724 - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    The disadvantage is they have to wait 2 more years to reach the minors. So an 18-year old Dominican is more seasoned than an 18-year old American.

  13. nps6724 - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    If you were a professional baseball player, you probably would.

  14. nps6724 - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    I don’t work in a Spanish-speaking country. They, however, DO work in an English-speaking country. Are you implying only office workers need to speak the same language to get work done? I imagine it’s much easier to play together and work cohesively if, I dunno, you can speak the same language.

    When American players go to Japan, do you think they don’t attempt to learn at least some Japanese?

  15. nps6724 - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    I think they should learn English as well, but I think they should have a little more leeway. When Asian players come to MLB, they are major-league ready. They don’t play in the US from age 16 to 20, 21, 22. Most Latin players spend at least 4 seasons in the minors, which is more than enough time to get acclimated. Everyone acts like it’s that hard to learn a language. If my job depended on it, you can bet I would learn Spanish. I probably wouldn’t be fluent or know everything about it, but I could order food or ask where the damn bathroom is. How is learning English at 16 any different than US students taking Spanish in high school at 16?

  16. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Not excusing anything, but Japanese players tend to be established and making enough money elsewhere. They don’t have to come here and play for a nice payday. If we treated them poorly, they’d just not come here. We don’t have to be nice to the Latin players, which is a shame.
    Really, you’d think more teams would take better care of their farm players considering how important they are to the future. It doesn’t all make sense.

  17. JBerardi - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    “they must also babysit them and do everything for them instead letting them find out what the real world is like.”

    In the real world, a thing called “exploitation” exists. Also, people use spaces between sentences.

  18. JBerardi - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    So how many languages do you actually speak?

  19. JBerardi - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    No, I very much doubt that American players learn to speak Japanese in japan. But if you have any, you know, evidence to support your claim, I’d love to hear it.

    How many languages do you speak?

  20. Old Gator - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    As far as the specific issue of translators, Ozzie earns his certificate of upgrade to complete asshole. Latino players don’t get personal translators because there are usually other Latino players on the same team and on teams throughout the minor leagues. Asian players get them because there aren’t other Asian players on many teams. If this weren’t obvious enough for all but the most exceptional dimwit to figure out – and Ozzie is indeed exceptional – whereas “Latino” means, almost exclusively, Spanish-speaking, “Asian” can mean Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, or eventually, any of a number of Chinese dialects. A Korean player can join a team with a Japanese player on it and, Asian or not, he’s still not off square one. It’s not nearly as simple a matter for an Asian player to get along in North America, except perhaps in the small ethnic districts of a few cities like San Francisco, because a Latino can read the same script as an English speaker and figure out pretty quickly that words like “stop” mean cerrada or that “house” is casa. If you think that an Asian, accommodated to a huge syllibary of pictographic scripts, can make that transition as easily, let’s see how quickly you can learn an Asian text while also fulfilling the obligations and exigencies of a professional team athlete. Best of luck to you.

  21. JBerardi - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    No, I very much doubt that American players learn to speak Japanese in japan. But if you have any, you know, evidence to support your claim, I’d love to hear it.

    How many languages do you speak? Still looking for ONE multi-lingual person who buys into the whole “just learn English” thing. Haven’t found a single person.

  22. Buccofan - Aug 1, 2010 at 6:41 PM

    I used to be close to fluent in Spanish, but as it’s been years since I needed it regularly, my skills have atrophied. I’ve always believed that if I took a job that required living in a non-English-speaking country, I’d find it easier to learn the language and adapt than finding people to translate.

  23. KingJoe! - Aug 1, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    This article is a ridiculous exercise in politicla correctness. The very idea that latin american players are treated like cattle is absurd. Latin American players are treated very much the same as any prospect; whether a player is latin american, or they were born in the united states, they are simply resources for baseball teams. Each of these resources have the same oppotunities and resources available to them. The difference for japanese players or other Asian players is that they typically are the only one on the team who speaks that language. If a Russian player comes to MLB, they would need a translator just like an Asian. The garbage being written in this article is simply written to avoid the perception of injustice. Writers need to think about the situation and not simply jump on what may at first glance seem like a opportunity to act as though they are PC.

  24. nps6724 - Aug 1, 2010 at 7:57 PM

    No one said they had to learn the entire language or even be bi-lingual. How about just learning simple phrases so you can communicate in everyday conversation?

    Do you have any evidence that Americans DON’T learn at least some Japanese? I’ve heard of many who learned basic phrases they would use everyday. They were nowhere near fluent but they could function.

    I also don’t hear any of them whining about their disadvantages when playing in Japan.

  25. nps6724 - Aug 1, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    Do I have a job that requires me to know another language? Nope. But if I did, I would learn some of the language. I don’t plan on ever going to Mexico or Spain, but I still learned some Spanish. I probably know more Spanish than some of these players know English. Which is quite sad.

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