SBD/Issue 175/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Stirring The Pot: Sheffield Makes Waves With Race Comments

MLB Not Looking At Disciplining
Sheffield For Comments In GQ

 

MLB VP/PR Rich Levin said disciplining Tigers RF Gary Sheffield “hasn’t hit the radar screen” for comments Sheffield made in a GQ article about the decline of African-American players in MLB, according to Jeff Schultz of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.  Levin, asked to respond to Sheffield's remarks, said, "Consider the source.”  In the article, Sheffield said the small percentage of African-American players as compared to Latin players in MLB is about "being able to tell (Latin players) what to do – being able to control them. Where I’m from, you can’t control us” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/5). Sheffield “insists he meant nothing derogatory toward Latin players,” saying that he “merely answered a question about why there were so many Latin players as opposed to blacks.” Sheffield: “This is a baseball issue. If they want to change it, they can change it” (USA TODAY, 6/6). Tigers SS Carlos Guillen agrees with Sheffield’s remarks. Guillen: “I’m glad somebody spoke up” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/6).

UNINFORMED STATEMENTS: Sports sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards said, “One has to look beyond simple statements from someone who is obviously uninformed on a matter such as this. Such a straightforward (opinion) or answer is absolutely wrong and asked of someone with limited information” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/6). Lisa Navarrete, VP of DC-based Latino national civil rights and advocacy organization National Council of La Raza, said, “He’s targeting the wrong culprit, the players themselves. Then he resorts to the stereotyping that he himself is trying to fight” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/5). Former Braves teammate Eddie Perez said Sheffield's comments are “going to hurt a lot of people. I don’t know (if he’ll be suspended), but somebody needs to say something” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/5).

Columnist Says Latino Players
Should Be Outraged By Comments
DEMEANING SEVERAL GROUPS?  The ATLANTA CONSTITUTION’s Schultz wrote Sheffield “demeaned all Latin players, suggesting they’re only here because they’re easy to handle. He demeaned mostly-white front-office officials, saying personnel decisions aren’t really based on talent. He sort of demeaned his own race, suggesting African-Americans are harder to control” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/5). In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik writes Sheffield’s comments “should be reviewed by the commissioner’s office and, at least, repudiated. ... There should be outrage among Latin players, including his teammates. Nor should black players feel comfortable with the stereotypical comments" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/6).

IS THERE SOME TRUTH TO ALL OF THIS? In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes, “There’s truth to Sheffield’s comments in regards to teams exacting more control over Latino players than black players. Non-American players are excluded from the entry draft, so it’s possible for a team to sign 20 Latino players for the same cost as a guaranteed signing bonus for one player selected high in the first round of the entry draft. That gives major league executives tremendous power over those players” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/6). Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Terence Moore noted former NL President Bill White "said there was a quota system in (MLB) and that more than a few black players knew about that, but they were afraid to speak out about it. So this goes further than just knee-jerk reaction that this is all about blacks just preferring to play football and basketball.” Moore also said on the Major League Scouting Bureau’s computerized form there “was a slot for race. ... When I confronted various owners and (GMs) about that, they could not explain that. I went to (former MLB Commissioner) Bowie Kuhn and asked him about it. He was stunned. Bowie Kuhn sent out a memorandum around that said, ‘Effective immediately: no more race on these forms’” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 6/5).

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