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Monday, April 21, 2014

In baseball, is the right way the “white way?”

How fair is it for Latin and black players to be criticized for playing the game the wrong way? Is the right way really “the white way?” Who keeps track of the “unwritten rules?”

Just a few years ago, for the first time, more professional players were under contract (counting all baseball players at the major and minor league levels) who had been born outside the United States than were born inside the country. Most of those players are Latinos, prominently from Venezuela, the Dominican, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Cuba, among other nations. Increasingly, these players are coming from a background unlike that of the white players they’re facing in the professional leagues in the U.S. they haven’t been “schooled” in the unwritten rules of the game.

Bat flips, slow home run trots, gesticulations on the mound and on the basepaths — these are all things the Latin players are introducing to the big league game here in this country. Sometimes it seems the hubbub over these incidents are more about race than right.

Wahoo Sam Posted: April 21, 2014 at 06:50 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: carlos gomez, race in baseball, yasiel puig

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   1. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:04 PM (#4690613)
Sometimes it seems the hubbub over these incidents are more about race than right.


Well, maybe. I mean when you are talking about something like "unwritten rules," the kind of things that are propagated through implicit understanding and hidden codes, then obviously cultural and national background is going to matter a whole heck of a lot. I mean, Cole's not thinking that Gomez is a jerk because he's Hispanic, he's thinking he's a jerk without considering that he's from the Dominican and may not have grown up with the same set of codes.*

Those are two very different ways of saying that race is a factor. I actually think the NPR series Code Switch should do a series on this.

*By the way, none of this is to say that Gomez is in any way acting according to a Hispanic code, only that's he clearly not acting according to what many white American players think is the proper code.
   2. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:14 PM (#4690624)
Just a few years ago, for the first time, more professional players were under contract (counting all baseball players at the major and minor league levels) who had been born outside the United States than were born inside the country.

This is only because MLB operates two leagues that are Latino-only (DSL and VSL) but no leagues that are U.S.-only.
   3. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:31 PM (#4690630)
Bryce Harper. Kept down my the white devil.
   4. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:34 PM (#4690633)
Cole's not thinking that Gomez is a jerk because he's Hispanic, he's thinking he's a jerk without considering that he's from the Dominican and may not have grown up with the same set of codes.

Lots of Dominican players play/have played in MLB without ratcheting the jackassery up to Gomezian levels.
   5. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:37 PM (#4690635)
Julio Teheran understands the code.
   6. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:37 PM (#4690636)
Lots of Dominican players play/have played in MLB without ratcheting the jackassery up to Gomezian levels.


Maybe they're just a bunch of Tio Tomassos!
   7. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:43 PM (#4690641)
I think the writer saying Harper is considered a "throwback" is a heck of a straw man. Harper gets a lot of heat for his antics too,
   8. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:46 PM (#4690643)
Another idiot blogger desperate to be assimilated into the media Borg collective.
   9. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:52 PM (#4690646)
There is a "right way" to play. The degree to which the various "races" play that way is an empirical question.
   10. shoewizard Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4690647)
Wait...the issue in the Red Sox club house was about a white/latino thing ? I thought it was about Fried Chicken and a ######## of a manager. Well, what do I know.

Actually, I think the guy has a good point. Not every paragraph or sentence in the article is on point. But the different styles of play, and the different styles of celebration and expression definitely do exist, and do sometimes create conflict and misunderstandings. It's a bit myopic to pretend they don't,
   11. Walt Davis Posted: April 21, 2014 at 08:20 PM (#4690666)
If you want to address this seriously ...

1) at most it is a clash of baseball cultures, not race/ethnicity per se. If "flair" is a common part of Caribbean (and other "Latino") baseball then it would be expected that players from there would carry that over here. If "flair" is not a common part of US (and Canadian) baseball then such "flair" is likely to grate. This would presumably be the case if the Caribbean guy was muy blanco and the American guy was Manny Delcarmen (I have no idea if he's Hispanic).

1a) We have regularly had stories about US players having difficulty adjusting to Japanese baseball culture (and Japanese culture generally). Imagine the gnashing of teeth over there if US players were 40% of the players -- would the culture change?

2) But is that the case? If so, has it always been that way or is this a phenomenon of younger Latin players? If it's always been that way, why wasn't this a significant issue earlier? Is it purely demographics (i.e. a shitload of Latin players these days)?

2a) Even if it is the case, how does Caribbean baseball culture survive in the face of MLB, satellite TV, etc? Are young Dominican kids still holding up Pedro and Manny as their idols? Haven't they seen Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw? Haven't they noticed that most MLB players are not showboating?

3) I'll go out on a limb and suggest that Bill Russell would have knocked some of today's NBA players about 8 rows deep into the stands for their antics (or maybe moreso those of 10-15 years ago). I'll suggest that Dick Butkus would have tried to kill any running back who tried to gloat over him. I will note that His Holiness Mariano Rivera managed to avoid overt displays of emotion, positive or negative. (Rules don't apply to Latin cyborgs.)

4) Generally speaking, "culture" and aggregate group membership don't explain jack. They are latched onto as simple, one-variable explanations of ridiculously complex phenomena that nobody really understands. When it comes to social behavior, the within-group variation absolutely dwarfs any between-group variation.

4a) So sure, some cultures/groups might produce a-holes at a higher rate than others but all cultures produce way too many a-holes.
   12. BDC Posted: April 21, 2014 at 09:04 PM (#4690701)
Has the pointing to the sky slacked off in the past year or so? That's my least favorite form of gloating - it's literally holier than thou, and always seems to suggest that God wants the opposing pitcher to give up home runs or something.
   13. BDC Posted: April 21, 2014 at 09:08 PM (#4690704)
And I guess I should add that sky-pointing seems distributed across ethnicities.
   14. BDC Posted: April 21, 2014 at 09:09 PM (#4690709)
And that of course God wants CUBS pitchers to give up HR.
   15. SandyRiver Posted: April 21, 2014 at 09:44 PM (#4690734)
Has the pointing to the sky slacked off in the past year or so? That's my least favorite form of gloating - it's literally holier than thou, and always seems to suggest that God wants the opposing pitcher to give up home runs or something.


And all these years I thought that pointing to the sky meant, "We're number 1!"
   16. The District Attorney Posted: April 21, 2014 at 09:50 PM (#4690749)
If Lance Broadway had become a superstar, would his nickname have been "The Great White Way"?
   17. Danny Posted: April 21, 2014 at 10:08 PM (#4690764)
Cespedes spent a couple seconds admiring his first home run in Oakland, which earned him the glare of Jason Vargas and a HBP from King Felix the next day. Cespedes noted such a thing was no thing in Cuba.

One:
He stayed at the plate briefly to admire the blast. But, Céspedes said, he won't be doing that again.

"I followed the ball, but I don't want to do that again," he said, with Ariel Prieto translating. "I come from Cuba, where there's a little less quality games, so we do that. But here I don't want to do that."

Two:
Admiring his 462-foot exploit is not seen as a negative act from Cespedes’ point of view.

“It’s different here,” he says in Spanish. “Here you get hit the next day. (In Cuba), I could watch a home run and it’s nothing. It’s OK there.”

Cespedes wasn’t trying to show anyone up. He was just doing what baseball fans across the world did the night of April 6, watching in awe as the ball banged off the second-deck façade in left-center field.
   18. Canker Soriano Posted: April 21, 2014 at 10:12 PM (#4690767)
And that of course God wants CUBS pitchers to give up HR.

Cub pitchers don't need any help in that regard.
   19. Canker Soriano Posted: April 21, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4690769)
And all these years I thought that pointing to the sky meant, "We're number 1!"

If you do it with both hands, it means...

YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
   20. Walt Davis Posted: April 21, 2014 at 10:33 PM (#4690782)
#17 ... Cuba has been pretty isolated from US culture -- or at least as isolated as the two governments could keep it. So I can imagine that Cuban baseball in the 90s and 00s was more isolated from US baseball culture than the DR, etc.

And that of course God wants CUBS pitchers to give up HR.

Today they're hitting them. And a double.

Is Arroyo hurt or just old? He's off to a terrible start and is getting smacked around by the bottom of the Cubs lineup today.
   21. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 21, 2014 at 10:46 PM (#4690799)
And all these years I thought that pointing to the sky meant, "We're number 1!"

If you do it with both hands, it means...


...you're Roberto Alomar and you just hit the most important home run in your team's history (to that point).
   22. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 22, 2014 at 02:05 AM (#4690856)
This is kind of interesting, however I was more impressed that primer didn't implode with JoeyB and SBB posted back to back at #'s 8 and 9!

Getting back to this though, I don't think showboating is a race thing. Some dudes showboat, some don't. Just deal with it. Personally I like it when someone just acts really cool, like they know they are awesome and just did the most amazing thing ever...like it was supposed to always be that way.

Admiring his 462-foot exploit


Though if I could hit a baseball that far, I have to admit, I might take a moment to watch it.
   23. Barnaby Jones Posted: April 22, 2014 at 02:45 AM (#4690862)
Carlos Gomez keeps having these issues not merely because his slow trots annoy people, but because he reacts to other players with extreme, out of proportion aggression. The fact that writers keep reacting to these situations with "Let the Latin guys be Latin" is extremely intellectually lazy and perpetuates the "Latin guys are fiery" stereotype. "Latin guys" are not one way. Carlos Gomez is not having these issues because he is Latin; he's having these issues because he has anger management problems.

EDIT: If you are gonna self-link, make the article better.
   24. vivaelpujols Posted: April 22, 2014 at 04:05 AM (#4690865)
This is a load of crap. Latin dudes didn't invent bat flips and celebrations. Can we stop making everything about race? We're all dumber for it.
   25. Moeball Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:01 AM (#4690920)
Just pointing out that Dennis Eckersley used to "gun down" opponents with his finger when he would strike them out.

I had no idea Eckersley was from the Caribbean. I always thought he was from the Bay Area.
   26. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:16 AM (#4690926)
Admiring his 462-foot exploit is not seen as a negative act from Cespedes’ point of view.


"Admiring" is such a loaded word. Every single person in the stadium was watching the flight of the ball, but only the hitter is ever described as "admiring" it.
   27. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:18 AM (#4690929)
Carlos Gomez keeps having these issues not merely because his slow trots annoy people, but because he reacts to other players with extreme, out of proportion aggression. The fact that writers keep reacting to these situations with "Let the Latin guys be Latin" is extremely intellectually lazy and perpetuates the "Latin guys are fiery" stereotype. "Latin guys" are not one way. Carlos Gomez is not having these issues because he is Latin; he's having these issues because he has anger management problems.

carlos gomez is well known for racing around the bases after hitting a home run. did you write this down incorrectly or just not aware?

this suggests repeated incidents. there have been two. certainly by the technical definition that is repeated.

so when someone at bbtf makes a second error of fact I should post that the poster has 'repeated issues with providing correct facts'?

I would not go that route.

gomez was wrong in how he reacted. but insinuating that he is a carl Everett/Milton Bradley serial offender is also wrong. particularly since those individuals also had anger issues OUTSIDE of the workplace. Is there any example, however minor, of carlos gomez having any type of confrontation of any kind off the ballfield?



   28. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:20 AM (#4690930)
Latin dudes didn't invent bat flips and celebrations

agreed. but they certainly perfected it. and I write that as a compliment to them
   29. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:26 AM (#4690935)
courtesy of 'tater trot tracker'

Quickest Trot (non-Inside-the-Park)
1.Carlos Gomez – April 1, 16.18 secs.
2.Adam Eaton – April 12, 16.72
3.Chris Heisey – April 13, 17.05**
(** grand slam)
4.Carlos Gomez – April 9, 17.18
5.Robbie Grossman – April 10, 17.59
6.Carlos Gomez – April 5, 17.66
7.Brad Miller #1 – April 1, 17.69
8.Alejandro de Aza #2 – March 31, 17.83
   30. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:34 AM (#4690947)
Good post, Walt (#14).

I don't particularly like showboating, but the only time it really steams me is when a player stands at home plate to admire a home run a long fly ball that never leaves the field of play. Showboating by itself I can live with, and stupidity is human, but when you combine the two you're reaching a new dimension.
   31. TDF, situational idiot Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4690956)
Just pointing out that Dennis Eckersley used to "gun down" opponents with his finger when he would strike them out.
To repeat something I said in the original Gomez/Cole thread, why is it OK for a pitcher to showboat but a hitter has to be the model of subdued decorum?

And why is Cole getting a complete free pass in all of this? If he doesn't open his pie hole after Gomez destroyed his pitch there is no reaction from Gomez.
   32. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4690958)
I like showboating, but it should only be done when you've done something legitimately cool. I hate that NFL players do it for every single routine tackle.

They need to appoint like a Master of Showmanship to teach these kids how to properly showboat. Someone like Deion Sanders for the NFL, or Rickey! for MLB.
   33. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 22, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4690963)
And why is Cole getting a complete free pass in all of this?

to his credit this individual expressed regret after the game for initiating the confrontation.

to me the guy REALLY getting a pass is travis snider. by the video and by other player comments the jawing between cole and gomez was starting to die off when snider showed up, said something, acting like a Wildman and gomez went beserk.

again, for all involved Gomez was WRONG in how he reacted

but snider stuck his nose into something and made a tense situation worse

and yet nobody is tossing any stones in his direction. I guess because he got his clock cleaned and is sporting quite the black eye
   34. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:04 AM (#4690972)
I like showboating, but it should only be done when you've done something legitimately cool.

Best showboating I ever saw was in a weekend high school basketball tournament in the 70's that featured the best DC interhigh teams (virtually all black) and the best Metro area Catholic school teams (then still mostly white), and it involved a spectator, not a player.

On Saturday, during the semi-finals, there was a black dude who showed up dressed to the nines, pimp styled to the max, from hat to gators. It was a display of both pride and beauty, and he made a point of walking around the sidelines taking in the plaudits from the spectators.

But on Sunday, during the finals, this white guy shows up in exactly the same outfit, and starts following the black guy around, like a weird sort of doppelganger. What made it great was that the racially mixed crowd howled their laughter and approval, to the point where the black guy who was being "shadowed" cracked up himself and went over and high-fived the white guy in a sign of respect. If it'd been 30 years later I would have thought it was a setup, but this one was definitely real.
   35. Canker Soriano Posted: April 22, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4690973)
so when someone at bbtf makes a second error of fact I should post that the poster has 'repeated issues with providing correct facts'?

I think the BBTF standard is:

One error of fact: error will be recalled for years on end to remind everyone of what a dumbass you are. In the eyes of some posters, all credibility for you is officially lost forever, and in any argument you make eventually someone will try to shut you down simply by pointing out how you screwed something up once before. (Lucky for you they all make errors of fact too, thus the eternal shouting matches about who's the bigger dumbass.)

Two errors of fact: worse than Hitler. You make the baby Jesus cry. Kittens drop dead at the sight of your screen name.

Three or more errors of fact: worse than Steve Garvey. Your soul is a black void, shaped roughly like Bud Selig's head.
   36. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4691050)
Gomez reminds me of those guys I would play sports with who were just high energy at all times while playing the sport. Their movements are exaggerated because, well, that's they way they move. At the professional level, you have guys like Pete Rose, Dennis Rodman, Rafael Nadal, etc who are so intense and physical that I think their movement draws attention to itself. Even running around the bases instead of a standard home run trot draws attention to that person because it is a deviation from the norm. I guess my sense about Gomez is that he's not doing stuff out of malice or with the idea of showing up people...usually.
   37. Captain Supporter Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM (#4691062)
People who want to find racism everywhere they look can always find it.
   38. bunyon Posted: April 22, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4691069)
Even if it is the case, how does Caribbean baseball culture survive in the face of MLB, satellite TV, etc? Are young Dominican kids still holding up Pedro and Manny as their idols? Haven't they seen Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw? Haven't they noticed that most MLB players are not showboating?

I think, if there is a difference, it's because the Latino players are learning baseball by playing and watching local games and American kids are learning it in hyper-organized leagues run by ########.

The nannied word is an excretory orifice.
   39. Moeball Posted: April 22, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4691218)
The Gomez play was exactly the sort of play that Pete Rose used to feed off of.

But, unlike Cole, Pete wouldn't have been yelling at Gomez. Had this play happened BITD when Pete was playing 3B for the Big Red Machine, he would have been laughing at Gomez standing on third, going, "Thanks, Dip****! Nice job of admiring the ball and guaranteeing that you couldn't score on the play! Just the kind of help we like to get!"

Of course, it still probably would have resulted in a fight, as I'm sure such a comment would have set Gomez off, but with Pete there always seemed to be more of an element of fun involved.
   40. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: April 22, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4691357)
We need more race threads.
   41. BDC Posted: April 22, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4691362)
The nannied word is an excretory orifice

I'm imagining a bunch of urethrae in suits.
   42. SandyRiver Posted: April 22, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4691377)
I like showboating, but it should only be done when you've done something legitimately cool. I hate that NFL players do it for every single routine tackle.


And in a meaningful context. That tackle celebration is especially grating when the defender's team is losing 38-3. Same thing as pimping a homer that makes the score 14-1 (whether the dinger is run 1 or run 14.)

but snider stuck his nose into something and made a tense situation worse

and yet nobody is tossing any stones in his direction


Maybe baseball should adopt the NHL "3rd man in" rule. IIRC, the refs allow the initial two combatants to slug away, for a while at least, and they get two-minute roughing penalties, unless someone's bleeding brings a five-minute major. A 3rd player joining in gets a game misconduct, and I think a one-game suspension on top of that.
   43. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: April 22, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4691404)
to me the guy REALLY getting a pass is travis snider. by the video and by other player comments the jawing between cole and gomez was starting to die off when snider showed up, said something, acting like a Wildman and gomez went beserk.


I think Snider is one of the worst offenders in the whole incident, but he's a scrub no one cares much about and it's hard to see him in the video. Plus there's no heat-generating racial thing or unwritten rules debate to have about him.
   44. Bhaakon Posted: April 22, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4691449)
To repeat something I said in the original Gomez/Cole thread, why is it OK for a pitcher to showboat but a hitter has to be the model of subdued decorum?


I think there's some overlap with a second issue, which is that the rules change for late game/high leverage situations. Unless they're doing something completely gratuitous, not many players complain about a batter admiring a game-winning homer, a closer fist pumping after a K, or a team charging the field to celebrate a walk-off win. If Ekersley were doing it in the 1st inning, someone probably would have thrown a fit about it.

Now, there is kvetching over non-spontaneous celebrations regardless of context (Brian Wilson's X-symbol after each save, or the Prince Fielder bowling pin thing from a few years back).
   45. Barnaby Jones Posted: April 22, 2014 at 05:16 PM (#4691452)
carlos gomez is well known for racing around the bases after hitting a home run. did you write this down incorrectly or just not aware?


I was referencing the most recent incident.

this suggests repeated incidents. there have been two. certainly by the technical definition that is repeated.


Two fairly extreme examples of aggression. During the Braves incident in particular he was completely unhinged; that alone is grounds to be concerned. For him to have a repeat performance 20 games later doesn't exactly lessen my concern.

These are violent, out of proportion outbursts. It is not accurate to compare them to a simple error of fact.

I am not accusing Gomez of being Milton Bradley. But I am saying that he is creating his own problems through his own bad actions, rather than people taking offense at his "Latin exuberance."

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