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We tend to ignore the hard work, as opposed to the athleticism, of black players

Mar 20, 2014, 11:32 AM EDT

The basis for this New York Magazine piece on the different way broadcasters describe black athletes and white athletes is college basketball, but it’s every bit as applicable to baseball too. Whites are described as hard workers — and their hard work is often specifically described — blacks are assumed to be naturally gifted and athletic and their hard work is often overlooked.

And it’s not out of animus or bigotry. It just happens because it has always happened that way:

The situation is far better than it was three or four decades ago, when announcers would liken the skills of black players to animals. Today, they have some awareness of racial stereotyping. What’s left, I think, is far more characteristic of how racial bias typically works. Bad intent does not come into play. White people simply have certain preconceptions, and preconceptions make you see the things you expect to see and miss the things you don’t.

I agree with all of that, with the possible exception of likening the skills of black players to animals. That still happens:


I don’t care if Vin Scully is the one who coined “Wild Horse” for Puig. It still falls into this rubric of attributing the exploits of some players to some beastly, untamed quality that is so often used as a placeholder for otherness that we don’t too closely examine.

149 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. nymets4ever - Mar 20, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    i hate when craig tries to speak for everyone.

    • nbjays - Mar 20, 2014 at 6:08 PM

      Admit it, you just hate it when Craig speaks… period.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 20, 2014 at 6:29 PM

        No, that’s us about him.

      • nbjays - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:12 PM

        That, too.

  2. whatalou - Mar 20, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Silliness. Up in San Fran we have a guy called Matt Cain whom we call “Horse”. Matt’s a white guy, last time I checked.

    • illuminancer - Mar 20, 2014 at 6:49 PM

      I see the point, but the animal nicknames doesn’t strike me as a strong argument. This may be because I’m a fan of the team with the Horse, the Panda, and the Baby Giraffe, two of whom are as white as it’s possible to be.

      • psunick - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:34 PM

        And I wonder if “Crazy Legs” would be acceptable as a nickname today for Reds OF Billy Hamilton?

  3. happytwinsfan - Mar 20, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    this thread led me to some willie mays reminiscing over lunch as it reminded me of how george will wrote about the racist dismissals of willie mays as a “natural” who played with “child like enthusiasm” when in fact mays was studious enough to steal signs as a rookie, who unlike most of his teammates would stay on the field during the other teams warmups to study their defensive positioning to better tell if he should go for the extra base or not during the game. his vick wertz catch in the 1954 world series was semi dismissed as a result of awesome athletic skills when the most amazing thing about it was mays thinking to catch it over his left shoulder so he could whirl and throw in the same motion.

    • mmeyer3387 - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:29 AM

      Great example, May ‘s was truly a hard working ball player. Furthermore, I just wish we could get away from viewing the game from a racial prospective. I think that everyone knows that a person’s race has nothing to do with their talent level and skill set. On the other hand, a person’s culture may define a person by influencing a national love for the game. Certainly many of our ball players from the Demician Republic are good examples of a culture’s influence for the love of the game. Additionally, I also think that Cuba will fall into this example as well when they become an open country in the future. We already have a vast amount of great players from both cultures already.

  4. zdravit - Mar 20, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Craig needs to find a way to handle his white guilt.

    • big64d - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  5. mikhelb - Mar 20, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Silly Craig… wild horse was a nickname Puig already had (along with crazy horse) since he was in Cuba because people said he played with the intensity of a wild (crazy) horse.

    i guess naming somebody ‘black panther’ is also bigotry, unless he names himself, you know like that wrestler from the 70s to 90s.

    • tysonpunchinguterus - Mar 20, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      Oh, suuuuuure! Next you’ll probably tell us that Hideki Matsui was nicknamed “Godzilla” when he played in Japan! Enough of your lies, you racist! 😉

  6. coffeeblack95616 - Mar 20, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    I would posit the author is racist and injecting it into Vin Scully’s comments when Scully is simply using an analogy. This article is a pathetic excuse for journalism and represents the worst of writing. There is no substance to the text and the argument is pure conjecture.
    If someone said I was as strong as a bear, I would take it as a compliment. We use analogies all the time. If the author is too racist and stupid to see that point and not blanket all animal comparison as some sort of racist comment, then they should be fired. It is precisely this type of writing that promotes racism and further Balkanizes our culture.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 20, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      It is precisely this type of writing that promotes racism

      Yeah no, it doesn’t. Racist people not being called on their bigotry promotes racism. Also, you’re missing the point with your simile. But you think writing about subconscious racism promotes racism so I’m not really shocked…

      • jimmyt - Mar 20, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        Nope. You’re wrong and you cannot possibly know what someone else is thinking. I know, both are tough for a Lib to reconcile.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 20, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        Actually, willful ignorance is MUCH harder to reconcile.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 20, 2014 at 7:08 PM

        You’re wrong and you cannot possibly know what someone else is thinking. I know,

        Oh please explain to us oh wise one, how you have some magical gift of knowing what others are thinking that no one else does? I’ll just be here waiting…

  7. hockeyflow33 - Mar 20, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Ugh, enough of this garbage.

  8. moogro - Mar 20, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Swing and a miss from the HBT community.

  9. stlouis1baseball - Mar 20, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Have we now reached a point in which we can’t acknowledge facts due to a fear of being lable a bigot? Can we not acknowledge when someone is in fact “gifted” due to a fear of being labled racist?
    What if the person truly is more gifted? If this person is black…does this mean we can’t acknowledge it? What if you knew the person didn’t “work harder” and it just came naturally? If this person is black, cuban, spanish, etc… can we not acknowldege it? Is that where we are now?

    • cshearing - Mar 21, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      I agree, not being “allowed” to say such things without repercussions is silly.

      But the point of the article is that people tend to always say such things regardless of the facts. Black players are gifted athletes, white players are hard workers and smart. That’s the issue. Some people just get too PC about things and try to shut off the language. That never works either.

  10. stlouis1baseball - Mar 20, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    My best friend (Richard) since the age of 7 is a black dude. We first met during bantam league football. Richard could always throw harder, run faster and jump higher than anyone else on our respective teams. I mean the dude was/is f.a.s.t. Dude ran the 40 in 4.2. We would play a football game, get smashed at a party afterwards, and we would get up for walk throughs the next morning and he would literally get out of bed hung over and run anywhere from a 4.2 – 4.5. HUNGOVER.
    He also was/is 5′-7” tall and could dunk. Yep…5 feet 7! Dunking! He also happened to qualify for state in the 100 and 200 all four years in high school. He also happened to make the all state football team as a 5′-7” Wide Receiver. He also played football on scholarship at a Divison I school.
    Rich will tell you he didn’t necessarily work any harder. Hell…he would tell you he worked less! Because it came naturally to him. But Rich is also a realist. He is also a straight up dude who was my best man. I love him like a brother. Now…how many white dudes do you know running a 4.2? Better yet…how many 5′-7” white dudes do you know who can dunk?

    • ochospantalones - Mar 20, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      Did you really just write a long post about how you have a black friend? What year is this?

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:13 AM

        Comprehension issues huh Pants? It wasn’t about having a black friend. It was about his god giving natural ability. Ability he owns. Ability he admits to having without much (if any work). Which is precisely what this article is about. But I realize the truth hurts your feelings so your lame ass post is a misguided attempt ignore facts.

      • ochospantalones - Mar 21, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        I don’t personally know anyone who runs a 4.2 40, of any race, and I don’t believe you do either. The fastest 40 time in NFL Combine history is 4.24 by Chris Johnson. FWIW, Ryan Swope (a white dude!) ran 4.34.

        If you actually knew someone who could run faster than Chris Johnson without training you would be telling us about your friend the Olympic sprinter or NFL star. You should have stuck to 4.5, which is totally plausible for a D-1 football recruit, but I guess that undermines your point because plenty of white guys run in the 4.5 range.

        And yes, it clearly WAS about having a black friend. I have a black friend, he stereotypes himself, so I can stereotype black people too. That’s your argument. Own it.

        Even if we accept your BS story as true, I guess you’re too dumb to understand that drawing broad conclusions about a race of people based on one person you know IS racism.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 20, 2014 at 7:10 PM

      Now…how many white dudes do you know running a 4.2? Better yet…how many 5′-7” white dudes do you know who can dunk?

      Just to be sure, are you saying the only reason he could do these things was because he was black? Why not just a naturally gifted athlete?

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        I am saying he was/is naturally gifted. I am saying he will tell you this himself. Ability he will tell you he has/had with little to no work. Now please answer my questions. How many white dudes do you know that can run a 4.2? How many 5′-7” white dudes do you know that can dunk?

      • Reflex - Mar 21, 2014 at 8:33 PM

        As pointed out, your 4.2 seems unlikely. As for the other, I went to high school with a guy like that. Was by far the most gifted athlete in our school or any other school in our area. Absolutely dominated every event in track and field, hit the longest home runs on our baseball team, was our star football player and yes, he could dunk as a 10th grader. He was naturally gifted, much like the friend you describe, I never saw him in the weight room or putting any substantial work in. It was uncanny, and he certainly was gifted. He is also the only (high school) elite athlete I ever met who was truly kind to everyone, and actually would opt out of events simply so other people could win ribbons.

        That said, he was white. He also declined a full ride athletic scholarship to a major school (I forget which one). Instead he went to a religious academy and became a minister. Which suits his personality, honestly.

        Based on your statements though I should assume he is representative of his race or something and draw broad conclusions I guess.

  11. dremmel69 - Mar 20, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Why must we continue to analyze athletes as a collective based on race? What is the value of such analysis? The results can be legitimately be called a racial profile. Which I am told is a monumentally bad practice.

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 20, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      I hear what you are saying dremmel. I think we would also be far better served to remove the word “African” in front of black…unless the person is actually born in Africa.
      But I suppose that is a discussion for another time.
      I am still waiting on answers to my questions though. My guess? Zero.
      But that makes people uncomfortable so we shouldn’t discuss it.

      • dremmel69 - Mar 20, 2014 at 5:53 PM

        Agreed, stlouis1baseball. The need to label and group people these days is out of control. Why must individual achievements be measured against racial norms? Athletes are individuals who should be measured against other athletes.

  12. scyankee64 - Mar 20, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    Is the word “scrappy” a racist term for a white player who isn’t a natural? :)

    • jrbdmb - Mar 20, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      So how many black players are referred to as “scrappy” or “gritty”?

    • big64d - Mar 24, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      This is America so a white person cant be discriminated against because of their color. Thanks Obama


  13. steelhammer92 - Mar 20, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    This is what we call liberal race-baiting garbage.

  14. stercuilus65 - Mar 20, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    Wow, CC has gone so far off the deep end he doesn’t even have the support of most of his loyal followers (aside from the pontificating fools preaching white guilt).
    Just dreadful garbage.

  15. thenaturalmevs - Mar 20, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    Puig isn’t black; he’s Dominican.

    • ochospantalones - Mar 20, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      No. He’s Cuban.

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 21, 2014 at 3:41 PM

        Liar, liar pantalones on Fire! There are dudes in the NFL right now who run a 4.2. Granted…there are only a few (less than a handful). But this is world class speed we are talking. Your combine time doesn’t mean anything. After all…it’s the combine.
        And I couldn’t care less if you believe me or not. I truly mean that. So please…don’t flatter yourself. In college he was clocked at 4.19….by TWO coaches. Both of their clocks read 4.19. Guess what? One said he started his clock late and the other said he stopped his early. He was redshirted his Freshman year so everyone just assumed the coaches didn’t want him to get a big head so they came up with the stopped it early/started it late junk. Personally, I wasn’t their to witness the 4.19. But several teammates of his backed it up when we all partied on Spring Break. It wasn’t hard for me to believe because he was actually working out at the time. I mean…as I stated he could get out of bed hung over and run a 4.2 – 4.5 on a Saturday morning walk-thru in High School…without working out.

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 21, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        But I want to be clear, I couldn’t care less if you believe me or not.
        After all…I don’t know you. Therefore, what you believe truly doesn’t matter to me.
        One thing I do know…reality hurts your gentle sensibilities.

      • flatsorter - Mar 21, 2014 at 8:20 PM

        Xander Bogaerts isn’t black, he’s Aruban. Jurickson Profar isn’t black, he’s Curacoan. Grant Balfour isn’t white, he’s Australian. Justin Morneau isn’t white, he’s Canadian. Bruce Chen isn’t Asian, he’s Panamanian.

        Question: Patrick Ewing was not black, he was Jamaican. However, he became an American citizen when he was 20 years old. Did he become black then? If so how long did it take? I would think a transformation like that would take at least 24 hours.

  16. musketmaniac - Mar 20, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    Anybody ever been to Assateaque island. The wild horses have adapted to small island, there all ponys now. Mean little bastards

  17. campcouch - Mar 20, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    I get what Craig is saying. The best I could equate (if you watch college hoops) is how players like Doug McDermott or Arron Craft aren’t mentioned in the same breath as a Smart or a Jabari Parker. McDermott leads in scoring and shoots over 50% and Craft is a lockdown PG. But they’re considered hard working and competitors. Parker and Smart come nowhere near those guys offensively or defensively yet they are considered the superior athletes. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout,the best players in the game,but a guy like Puig gets the most press because he’s perceived to be gifted athletically. This is a remnant from past centuries that linger on…and no I am not white, I’m not black,I’m an American that happens to be brown…maybe applying the “horse” to the article throws people off,but he’s looking at why two guys doing the same task are viewed differently while accomplishing it because of their skin tone.

  18. notsofast10 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    Puig is not black!

    • flatsorter - Mar 21, 2014 at 8:22 PM

      What race is he? The same race as Jose Iglesias?

  19. gmfw7 - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    i don’t think it’s a knock on black people when we praise some white athletes for their hard work, and it doesn’t mean that we are not recognizing that people of color also put in hard work. i think the reason this happens is because in most sports, especially football and basketball but also baseball and soccer etc…you often see amazing feats by players who are either black or of latin/south american ethnicity that just have absolutely nothing to do with work, and more to do with god given talent. you often here the phrase “that can’t be tought”. this also isn’t to say that there aren’t white athletes who have great god given athleticism, but there’s a reason why 98% of the most EXCITING players in the nba and nfl are african american. there’s a reason why you don’t see white WRs, CBs, safeties, and RBs dominating their positions as often as you see black athletes doing it. there’s a reson if you ask anyone to give you their list of 10 greatest nba players of all time, there will be one, and only one white man named to most people’s list. i don’t know why this is, but to deny that black men as a whole are more gifted than white men is stupid. it doesn’t mean black men don’t have as strong a work ethic as white men – you often hear that guys like kobe and lebron, or james harrison and even terrell owens constantly outwork their peers. it just means that white athletes, BECAUSE OF THEIR INFERIORITY, have to work harder than alot of black athletes just to keep up.

  20. stevequinn - Mar 23, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    What is disappointing to me is the relative lack of Black kids who are playing baseball in the U.S. There’s a huge talent pool there that just isn’t being tapped because baseball is so expensive for inner city kids to play.

  21. big64d - Mar 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    I think were ready China….. bring on the bombs!!!!!!

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