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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. GeezyDaGreat - Aug 1, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    JBerardi- what about Bobby Valentine? I am sure he learned Japanese.
    Also, minor league players (if they are decent) will usually make between 50-100K. Not to mention a signing bonus.

  2. nps6724 - Aug 1, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    Also, I’m not sure how many of you know this but the translators for Asian players don’t only act as translators; they help the player assimilate to the Western culture and way of life. I’m sure we can all agree there is a much bigger difference in that regard between Japan/China/what-have-you and the US than Caribbean countries and the US. And going back to the minors, Latin players have multiple years to assimilate to the US before they get to the majors, something Asian players don’t get.

  3. FrankZappa - Aug 1, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    like there isnt anybody else in the dugout who doesnt freaking know spanish or whatever non-english they speak

  4. quint - Aug 1, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    I don’t think foreign players should have to speak a lot of english, but knowing enough to have a short conversation with coaches, team management, your owner, your fellow players and most importantly the fans isn’t out of line.
    It isn’t out of line to expect foreign born players to be able to say hello in english to the fans (who pay them).
    The same way I would expect all foreign players in Japan to be able to speak a few words as well.
    The job of a professional athelete goes beyond what they do on the field, some PR for the team is an expectation too.
    Yes all minor league players are treated poorly, and latin players its true too. But it isn’t exactly a fair comp a latin kid vs a professional japanese athlete with a track record.
    But Ozzie has done well rasing the point about how these kids (all non top prospects) are treated.

  5. Paper Lions - Aug 1, 2010 at 9:45 PM

    You’re an idiot. How many languages a person speaks has no bearing on the validity of their opinion. None.
    For the record, I speak two languages (learning the second one as an adult) and also know bits of Guarani from working in Paraguay. If you move to a foreign country where you do not speak the language, you should put forth effort to learn the primary language(s) of that country. ANYONE can learn to communicate in a foreign language as an adult if they put forth the effort. While challenging, it can not be considered particularly difficult because millions of normal people do it every year. Those that chose not to learn are simply being lazy. Feel free to cite all of those that say (through an interpreter), “Gee, I tried to learn English, but it was too hard.”

  6. lessick - Aug 1, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    I think that having translators throughout an organization’s system might be an idea worth exploring. The presence of a translator to help make the adjustment easier does not mean that players would choose not to learn English. Most players do know some English by the time they reach the majors and I doubt that would change, although sometimes English skills have been known to suddenly get weaker when testifying before a Congressional committee.

    Wouldn’t it also benefit the American players? Learning Spanish or Japanese would be useful to some–many players go on to manage Winter Ball in Venezuela and other places.

  7. CYGNUS X-1 - Aug 1, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    hey jberadi,I speak 1 language and that is english,that is the language of the U.S.A. which is where I was born and raised so why do I need to learn any other?I was forced to take spainish in high school and after getting the 1 credit I needed the first semster could have cared less about it.I have had no desire to go where they speak it as thier native tounge so why do I need to know it or any other?

  8. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:07 PM

    100K? Is that what you’re selling? Cause I ain’t buying. Source? Oh? You don’t have one? I do:

  9. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:09 PM

    I thought Chinese (Or is it Chinamen? I always forget the proper nomenclature.) and Japanese spoke the same language? They certainly look alike, right?

  10. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    Also a great point. They also help the team as extra hands in warm-up exercises, BP, etc.

  11. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:16 PM

    I’m taking this as sarcasm, right? Oh, it’s not. Well darn. Hate to refute your “the language of the U.S.A.” thing, but I hate seeing things stated as facts that aren’t. Also hate seeing people get all huffy-puffy about people needing to learn English and then watching them butcher it in type or on paper. I digress. Any way, there is no “language of the U.S.A.”

  12. willmose - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:49 PM

    If MLB managers and coaches don’t speak fluent Spanish, they are at a competitive disadvantage. I get Ozzie’s point but if Japanese players make up 20 to 30 percent of the MLB players, then there will be plenty of managers and coaches that speak Japanese. I would think that a player that spent time in Japan and knows the language would have a plus on his CV for a coaching job.

  13. GeezyDaGreat - Aug 1, 2010 at 11:49 PM

    Tim- As you have read those are minimums for the 1st year. If you would include a signing bonus, you should easily have over 40K for a decent first year player. The longer you play, the more money you earn if you are a minor league veteran (not unthinkable to easily pull in 50K a year). Also, if you are called up to the majors, you receive the league minimum divided by the number of games you are up. So if you are called up for 10 games, that’s an extra 40K.
    I did say decent, i probably should have rephrased to good (AA allstar or possible major leaguer).
    I am speaking from experience since I was drafted a long time ago.

  14. troke - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:32 AM

    Guillen may think we treat latino prospects poorly, but I say we can treat them much, much worse. Why aren’t we testing steroids and other PEDs on them? There is a whole group just begging to be exploited, pumped full of artificial hormones and turned into hulking beasts made to hit and pitch for our entertainment. We are rescuing them from lives of struggle; instead toiling in the fields until the are slaughtered when the next warlord takes over we pay them a fortune (in their currency) to play a game. If I can save 1 kid per day for just pennies on the dollar, like that old guy in the commercial says, I’m pretty confident that ten grand can build the classiest hovel in the DR, plenty of goats and chickens to eat, and maybe even a rusted old Honda shell for the kid to rebuild in the offseason. I’d say he is making out pretty well, better than many Americans in fact.

  15. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    OK. I’ll buy on a misuse of a qualifier there… But still, you can be a fantastic A guy from the DR and sign for nothing and not make much. But it’d still be a lot for a kid from the DR and is a much better option. Which is why MLB doesn’t have to coddle the Latin players as much. Those guys have no other economically healthy options.
    Also, I wasn’t factoring in the money they’d get from cup o tea call-ups. I’d still like to see the numbers for minor leaguers. And I still think more teams need to take better care of their MiLB guys.

  16. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:58 AM

    I want this to be sarcasm.

  17. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:02 AM
    More info. I stand corrected. But still think MiLB’ers deserve better treatment.

  18. mrbtw - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:12 AM

    It is very inappropriate for Guillen, as a team manager, to drop a comment like that. It is apparent now no Asian player would ever consider joining the White Sox until he’s gone.
    He is referring mostly to Japanese players, who came out from Jap Pro league, which is above 3A level, almost Major League level. They were already making millions. Of course they deserve some privileges over those 16, 17 years old kids from various Latin American countries.
    Latino players cost teams money to be trained, Asian players help the teams instantly(theoretically), and bring money to the teams by expanding the market.
    In addition, Asian players like Wang or Kuo actually got it worse. Before they reached Major, they HIRED their own translator/trainer out of their pockets to help them better adapt to the environment and lifestyle. It is very different in the US to Asian players compare to Latinos(Spanish is virtually the second language in the US). Ni of the Detroit Tigers, previously played in Taiwan Pro League, started out in 3A, HIRED his own translator as well. His translator is not a staff of the team, therefore he is not allowed in the dugout. So Ni actually started out just like all the Latinos trying to understand English, at the same time taking English courses.
    There is no rule preventing Latino players to hire their own translator, so stop complaining.

  19. Paper Lions - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    Yeah, um, that was a PR move by politicians. Just curious, in what language do all legal documents appear in this country? What? English? Really? Huh. Well, that would seem to indicate a pretty official non-official language wouldn’t it.

  20. Paper Lions - Aug 2, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    You realize that most of the Latin players to which Ozzie is referring make about 10K/year right? And that they are from very poor families and most of that money is sent home to them, right? And that most have no education or chance for education, and are not educated by MLB teams, right? And that most of them are discarded as soon as they fail to progress for a year or two leaving them jobless, uneducated (because they have spent all of their time learning baseball), and right back where they started 4 years before right? In general, this represents a Latin player’s (and likely his family’s) only opportunity to “make it” in life, and they most certainly are treated like cattle. They are young, naive, in a foreign country and given little advice/education. So they can talk to other such players on the team. Great, how helpful. An Asian players only barrier is language, to intimate that this trumps all other pressures and training deficits of Latin players is myopic.

  21. nps6724 - Aug 2, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    If they stay in their home country, they would still be uneducated WITHOUT that $10K. It is not the job of MLB to educate them. When American kids are drafted, are they educated by MLB? There are plenty of dumb American players who never make it and get tossed out of the game without a job or an actual education. It’s up to the individual to get it themselves. If a player spends all his time playing/learning baseball and never worries about their education, the fault lies on the player.

    MLB is a business. I can’t think of any business who goes out of their way to educate their employees unless it benefits them.

  22. Benny Blanco - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    If you were working and living in a spanish speaking country, you wouldnt try to learn some spanish to get by, order food, find a bathroom, conduct simple everyday converstion?

  23. Jimsjam33 - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    I’m sure there’s plenty of American kids who would love to have minor league jobs with a chance of reaching the Majors someday . Why do we bring foreigners here anyway ? American players are’nt good enough . Maybe American fans money isn’t good enough too. Kick out the whiners including Guillen !

  24. OldSkoolRules - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    I won’t hate on Ozzie because he is looking after players. But there is a huge difference between Latin players drafted vs. Japanese players who are selected via a bid process with only a few teams participating.
    1) Interpreters – there are many players and coaches already on each majore league club who already speak Spanish. The Latin player usually has another player to bond with and hang out with, as well as coaches who can communicate with him. There are very few players and coaches who speak Japanese at all. Yes some players/coaches have played in Japan so there are a select few. But not in every ballclub.
    2) Latin players are identified at an early age and they usually choose a team by the time they are 16-18. That’s whey they go to the minors…to develop. The really big young Latin stars usually get a few hundred thousand to a couple million signing bonuses.
    3) The few Japanese players that come here are already All-Stars in the Japanese pro league. They come here much older and much more experienced…they don’t need much coaching to adjust to US baseball. The US team usually pays big dollars to pry the superstar from the Japanese team and league. That is not money that goes to the Japanese player, but to the team and league for taking away a star who wants to see how they match up against US players. The US team still has to have a contract with the Japanese player and that is similar to any other player with their assumed skill level. Daisuke Matsuzaka is a great example.
    So I can appreciate what Ozzie is doing, but he missed the mark here and may have hurt his goal a little in the process. But ask the Chinese or Korean player and I am not sure they get the same treatment that Japanese players do. But I guess the difference is that if the Japanese player does not come to the US, they can stay in Japan and still make millions and still be a star. Japan has the most successful professional baseball league outside of the US. The other countries don’t have that option.

  25. Sara - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    It’s hard to argue that it wouldn’t be beneficial to the teams to have their Latin American recruits receive a basic education. The quality of the life that surrounds the player affects the quality of the player, yes? Furthermore, if kids from the poorest countries felt they had options in their lives, they might not be so pressured to take PEDs, which ultimately benefits neither the player nor the team (or does it?).
    I think the provocative language Ozzie used just made a very simple observation into a political hissy-fit. It would be great if young players from poor Latin American countries had the same privileges of upbringing that their more fortunate counterparts have. It would be great if MLB treated all players at comparable levels equally. But as the man himself said, it will never be that way. He’s just sayin’.

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