Tagged: Racism

Bonding on Mean Street

Wonder how this guy, without money or shoes (but especially without money), got into a Major League park?

“I’ll tell you the story,” Bonds said. “The guy jumped on the field, had his hands up and was screaming, ‘I just want to shake your hand.’ I said, ‘Fine, come shake my hand.’ He said, “Dude, I’ve got no money. I have no shoes. I’ve got nothing in life.’ I’ve been down in that neighborhood. I said, ‘Let’s just walk back together, though, so these guys don’t get itchy and throw you down on the ground. And show them that you mean no harm. Hopefully, nothing bad will happen.'”

The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Major League Baseball News

This is classic Bonds:  do something right, and wrong, in the same moment.  His humane treatment of an obviously deranged fan was classy and cool.  Then he makes a complete *** of himself by claiming to have ever walked the mean streets.  Bonds is the troubled son of privilege. 

“He didn’t know what it meant to struggle, and to some degree that meant he couldn’t understand what it was to be prototypically black,” says former teammate Darryl Hamilton.  When Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly was researching a piece on African Americans being stopped by the police because of their skin color, he approached Bonds.  “Barry,” asked Reilly, “I was just wondering if you’ve ever been pulled over for DWB?”

“Get the **** out of my face!” screamed Bonds.  “What the ****?  What kind of ******* question is that?”

Only after teammate Ellis Burkes explained that DWB stood for “driving while black” did Bonds cool off.  “He was the only African-American athlete who didn’t know what it was,” says Reilly.  “And I interviewed a lot of people.”

Jeff Pearlman, Love Me, Hate Me

Earlier Pearlman had described how his black teammates would conceal their nightly haunts, not wanting Bonds, who listens to Barbara Streisand, Kenny G. and Michael Bolton and supports conservative political candidates, along.  “Dude didn’t fit in.”  Reading the book one begins to understand that, more than anything, Bonds wants credibility.

So in that sense maybe he’s right.  Maybe he does know what it is to have nothing in life.

— Michael Norton

Latin Lovers

According to Ozzie:

Guillen was interviewed by several officials last season, and he said they repeatedly focused their questioning on players from Latin America.

“I meet with, like, five people,” Guillen said Wednesday. “The only thing that made me upset was they tried to mention too many Latino players. I think they try to put the Latinos to be the bad cloud in this thing. This thing was bugging me because everything they asked me (was), ‘Do you ever see this in Venezuela?”‘

Guillen said asking whether players were importing steroids from their native countries was unfair, considering BALCO is based in California.

“They were like, ‘You never see any of the players bring this thing to the States?”‘ Guillen said. “I said, ‘Wait a second, BALCO is not (in) Venezuela, is not (in) Puerto Rico, is not Dominican, is not (in) Mexico. BALCO is in California. Then why do you keep blaming players from Latin America for the problem that we have in the States?”‘

An Associated Press review in 2005 determined that half of the players suspended that year were born in Latin America.

FOX Sports on MSN – MLB – Ozzie says investigation targets Latinos

Personally, I found it somewhat disturbing when the news leaking out was of a Venezuelan connection on the steroids issue.  This country has a long and storied history of blaming its problems, especially its drug problems, on the Spanish speaking peoples.  Just do a little research on why marijuana is illegal.

I won’t even mention the MLB sleaze factor.  I won’t be the least bit surprised if this whole PED thing doesn’t disintegrate into some racial controversy.  The race card will obfuscate the real issue, Selig turning a blind eye to the problem.

Bonds doesn’t sound remotely hispanic.  No Rodriguez is threatening the home run record…yet.

— Michael Norton

Rivalry Week

Rivalry Chess Having been a lifelong Sooner fan, I know a little of rivalries. There may be rivalries as intense, but none more so than that between Oklahoma and Texas. Yankees/Red Sox? Not even close to the passions both North and South of the Red River on a crisp weekend in October, much less in the Cotton Bowl or on the State Fair of Texas fairgrounds.

Indeed baseball rivalries simply don’t compare to those in college football. Perhaps it is because it is a professional sport; or maybe because teams play each other so often. There would probably be fatalities if OU-Texas (or as the bad guys call it, Texas-OU) happened more than once a year. The pandemonium is barely controlled as it is.

I grew up despising the Dodgers. I really didn’t know why, I just had a pronounced dislike for anything wearing Blue. It wasn’t until years later that it occurred to me that I had been raised a Giant fan by my father, who grew up in New Jersey following the then New York Giants and died in San Francisco having passed on his passion to his seven year old son.

Irrational hatreds trouble that son, who is now almost as old as his father was then and has a son and grandson of his own. Passing on such a thing…is worrisome. It is the same process by which racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and a whole host of other isms are passed. On the other hand, rivalries may be cathartic and allow us to vent and manage necessary and natural emotions that would otherwise be expressed in negative ways.

Or perhaps that is a Dodge(r).


Rivalry Chess - SF v LA


Editor’s Note:  No, you’re not seeing double.  I inadvertantly posted this in all the excitement last week.  It obviously chronologically belongs during rivalry week, so I’m moving it here.  I immediately trailed it with this morning’s post so as not to unfairly bump anyone from the Recently Updated List. 


Last year at this time, the beloved authors here on Some Ballyard were getting skewered for suggesting that there was more to the Bonds story than superficial loathing.  I spent the last weekend categorizing posts, and incidentally noticed that the character and tone of Some Ballyard as it exists today was presaged by one post, A Long Out.  You’ll notice that is Matt from Diamondhacks first appearance on Some Ballyard, as well as some inanity by The Dearly Departed.  I spent the next month fighting off the barbarians, including the infamous ‘Stros Bro (also departed), all favorites of the clowns running MLBlogs. Indeed, the entire month of May was one long brawl, after which I was seriously questioning why I was blogging at all.

All this was for merely suggesting that Bonds was a human being.  I wasn’t even going as far as racism.  As I stated, I was curious why Bonds engendered such visceral hatred.  Yet the racism came out, in a way that stunned me.  Not that I wasn’t conscious of the racial component of the saga.  I am old enough to remember Hank Aaron breaking the home run record.  Nobody was a racist back then, either.  But in this day and age I was honestly amazed at the utter denial of even the possibility of a racial aspect.  Personally, I considered the whole affair a rare opportunity for all of us, white and black, to examine our attitudes.  Apparently I was right on target.  Jason Stark at ESPN had this to say recently:

But would you have known, from the way this issue has been portrayed by all of us in the media biz, that the percentage of fans who wish this moment wasn’t happening would be only 52 percent?

Would you have guessed that three fans out of every eight actually want Barry Bonds to break this record?

If those percentages are accurate, many of us have misread the mood of the nation on this. And in more ways than one.

Until now, we haven’t spent much time talking about the racial issues that hover over this man and this event. But this poll tells us we need to do more of that, too.

Source: ESPN.com – MLB – Stark: America is conflicted about Bonds

These moments come along so rarely.  I hope we learn.  This time.

— Michael Norton

Quick, Hide the Ni**er!

Not that you would know from MLBlogs, where Jackie Robinson Day is observed by parading a Hollywood starlet sporting a sexy top with a Dodger logo to peddle a new clothing line, but fifty years ago this year Number 42 retired from baseball and devoted himself to pursuing civil rights for all Americans.  That same year a young Queen came to America for the first time to participate in the celebration of the 350th anniversary of Jamestown, where slavery originated in this country.  How much has changed in the intervening half century?  From my vantage point here in the Historic Triangle, I have some peculiar observations in Fit for a Queen, my latest post on The Jamestown Site.

You may look differently at what is about to be the vanishing home run record in this Game of Shadows.

Rest In Peace

As is always the case, we only recognize what we’ve lost after it is gone. Instead of inducting Buck O’Neil into the Hall of Fame during his lifetime, when he could have enjoyed it and shared that smile with us all, baseball is looking at finally doing the right thing posthumously. Tell me you didn’t see this coming. As I’ve said before, racism is alive and well in America.

Instead of looking at his not being inducted as a slight, O’Neil viewed the whole process as a celebration of a bygone era in baseball — an era of rich stories and great talent. He showed no bitterness, anger or hatred.

I never learned to hate," O’Neil said at the induction ceremonies. "I hate cancer. Cancer killed my mother. Ten years ago, cancer also took my wife. I hate AIDS. I had a friend who recently died of AIDS. But I can’t hate a human being."

It was O’Neil’s last public speech, and it was a fiery speech that further endeared him to people everywhere who long ago had learned to love O’Neil for the man he was.

Major League Baseball : News : Major League Baseball News

Hammer Don’t Hurt Them

It is telling that Some Ballyard is commented on as frequently as MC Hammer’s Baseball Time. MC Hammer is, of course, a celebrity, and has been promoted heavily by MLBLogs. I’m too old to have been a Hammer fan, so excuse me if I stumble on this pun, but of his rhetoric I can only say “can’t touch this”. From what I’ve observed of people, that stops no one. So there must be another reason.

The truth has never been popular, of course, and never will be. Where the swarm of flies gather…well, you can guess the rest. The noticeable absence of comments on Hammer’s latest blog on Bonds passing Ruth is evidence we still have serious issues confronting the truth of racism in this country. For a long time there were only three comments. Two were mine and the third, if you follow, speaks for itself. Three comments? Some Ballyard gets three comments from drivel.

Yes, racism is indeed alive and well in America. Like most, I, too thought racism was dead. I thought that almost two decades ago when Aerosmith sang “If you can tell a wise man, by the color of his skin, then mister you’re a better man than I”. I rolled my eyes on that one, thinking these guys weren’t livin’ on the edge, they were living in the past.

I was wrong. I discovered that exploring my own attitudes towards Bonds. No self-righteousness here; I’m guilty as sin. But it’s not just me. Since I broached the topic several months ago, I’ve been subject to vitriol and even threats far exceeding the significance of my remarks. I’ve began to appreciate for the first time the black frustration, to look at the situation through a black man’s eyes. There is hatred, and there is no reason.

Certainly this is not the sixties. We let blacks use our toilets. We’ve come a long way, but not far enough. I’m not saying Bonds is despised simply because he is black. I believe part of the reason for the white reaction to Bonds is that Bonds himself is a racist, and we (yes, I’m Irish) are angry because there seems to be no equity in the racial divide. But certainly the disapproval of Bonds would assume a much different color if he were white, ala Mark McGwire or Jason Giambi. Exploring that difference in an honest, adult manner has the potential to make this a better world for all of us. Baseball allows us to do this; that is one of its virtues.

Hammer said it better.  — Michael Norton

The guitar may have rocked but the piano first rolled.  Check it out on Moondog’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival.

Bonds *712

I would like to think that I misunderstood, but did Bonds just compare himself to Ali on “Bonds on Bonds”?  He quoted Ali’s famous comment on refusing to serve in the Vietnam War:  "no Vietcong ever called me ******."  Bonds also seemed to imply he was the victim of injustice “in his own country”.

Ali himself, beloved now, beat Ernie Terrell senseless in 1967, refusing to finish the fight and shouting “What’s my name, Uncle Tom, what’s my name?”  (Terrell had the temerity to call him Cassius Clay rather than Muhammed Ali).  At the end of the show Bonds glowed about how Ali whipped everyone’s ***, and that’s what he, Bonds, would be doing, whipping everyone’s ***.

Then again, maybe Bonds isn’t so far off in his comparison of himself with Ali.

Will we also embrace Bonds in the years to come?  Ali won the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Ruth wasn’t particularly popular at the end of his career, either.  Those who complain Bonds is laughing at us tend to forget that Bonds has a better sense of history than he lets on.  — Michael Norton

Bonds Hits #709

Bonds finally hit his first homerun of the season.  It was simply a matter of time.  He was hitting the ball well enough, coming up just short on several occasions.  Coors Field aka Homerville was just the tonic the slugger needed.

Unless something strange occurs—and one of the marvelous things is you can never discount that possibility—Bonds will pass Ruth in the next few weeks.  Will he catch Aaron?  I seriously doubt it.  That is 41 more homeruns.  In his last three healthy seasons, Bonds hit 136 homers in 420 games, one for just over every three games.  This season he has his one per fourteen games.  If he keeps up that pace, he’ll hit about a dozen this year.  Nobody expects that, of course.  My guess is he’ll end up with about double that.  It is likely he’ll need a number that would challenge his declining production to catch Aaron in 2007.

Challenge, but not eliminate, the possibility, which is what makes it interesting.  If Bonds needs 15 to become the all time homerun champion, would he retire?  As MC Hammer points out, there is an element of racism fueling the fury of Bonds passing the great white Ruth.  But I have also seen arguments that Bonds accomplishments would diminish the accomplishments Aaron, in particular the racial suffering he endured.  This, too, is a product of racism—and yes, it is possible for a black to be racist.  From what I’ve read, Bonds is as rabid of a racist as a Mississippi sheriff in the sixties.  His rage over the adulation pored on that “white boy” breaking the single season homerun record is what drove him to steroids, if you believe Game of Shadows.  Will Bonds doggedly pursue Ruth and leave the brother be?

And will whites care once Bonds passes Ruth?  That will be a measure of how far we’ve come in the last thirty years.  I suspect what fuels the vitriol against Bonds now is a vain hope that he will abandon the chase before he further diminishes the game’s ultimate deity, Ruth.  It has taken thirty years just to come to terms with Ruth being second.

One positive from this situation could be that Aaron’s accomplishments, as a ballplayer and as a man, will be spotlighted and the man who really broke Ruth’s record will have his day in the sun.  By the time Bonds approaches the record, Aaron will have held the title of homerun king almost as long as Ruth.  [Note:  these thoughts were penned before Bonds’ latest comments.]  — Michael Norton

Remembering Jackie

The Tides got shelled last night, at the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, affiliate of the Phillies.  Well, sort of.  The relationship has soured, and next year the 18 year affiliation will end.  Guess Pennsylvania is not the state of brotherly love.  I haven’t really been able to get engaged in this series, in part because when you can find information on a player, it is usually something like “is nothing more than organization depth for the Phillies”.  I’m wondering if the Phillies have basically abandoned the Red Barons, shipping all their prospects to AA Reading.  The Red Barons do play in one of my favoritely named ballparks:  Lackawanna County Stadium.  Unfortunately there’s no lack of want in Scranton Wilkes-Barre.  Guess I should speak softly, though: the Red Barons have won three of four in this series.

Next up for the Tides is the Rochester Red Wings, affiliate of the Twins and one of the original teams in the International League via the Eastern League.  The International League itself is very old.  In 1897 the Rochester ballpark burned and the team, then called the Jingos, finished the season in Montreal, with the understanding the team would return to Rochester the following season.  Montreal decided possession was nine-tenths of the law, and Rochester had to buy the Scranton membership to stay in the league.  The International League gets its name from its historical connections to Canadian teams.

The Jackie Robinson story really begins with the Montreal Royals of the International League in 1946, where Robinson was positioned to prepare him for what was to come.  On this date, April 18, Robinson went 4-for-5 with four runs, a dinger, 4 RBIs, 2 stolen bases and forced 2 balks.  MiLB.com is chronicling Jackie’s exploits in the International League this season in its series, Remembering Jackie.