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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Indians’ Sabathia makes pitch for blacks

C. C. Sabathia, see what you have done…

C.C. Sabathia looks around Cleveland’s clubhouse and sees something missing—black ballplayers.

“There aren’t very many African-American players, and it’s not just in here, it’s everywhere,” Sabathia said Wednesday between morning workouts. “It’s not just a problem—it’s a crisis.”

Sabathia, the only black player on the Indians’ 25-man roster last season, feels baseball could be doing more to promote its game to inner-city kids who are gravitating toward basketball and other sports.

“I go back home to Vallejo,” Sabathia said of his offseason time in California, “and the kids say, ‘What’s baseball?’ It’s not just an issue for my hometown, it’s an issue for the whole country. I think Major League Baseball should do something about it. I don’t know exactly what they could be doing, but I know it’s not enough.”

Repoz Posted: March 14, 2007 at 10:43 PM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: indians

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   1. MSI Posted: March 14, 2007 at 10:52 PM (#2312155)
Vallejo...the Zodiac killer!
   2. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: March 14, 2007 at 11:05 PM (#2312166)
Why must it be viewed as a crisis that black kids want to play basketball or football? For baseball, it would be good simply because the more kids that play the sport, the more kids that turn into very good players and improve the quality of play.

BUT IT ISN'T A CRISIS AND WE DON'T ALL NEED TO DO SOME SOUL SEARCHING TO DETERMINE HOW WE HAVE LET THESE BLACK KIDS DOWN!!! JUST STOP!!! IT IS NOT AN "ISSUE"!!!
   3. Dr. Vaux Posted: March 14, 2007 at 11:27 PM (#2312183)
We've had this discussion many times. It is a big issue for baseball to get as many people to play it as possible; that way it gets as many good players as possible. The reason that the lack of black players keeps getting brought up is that thirty years ago there were many more of them than there are now. Baseball is apparently losing some of its potential talent pool, and it would certainly behoove the sport to get it back.
   4. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: March 14, 2007 at 11:34 PM (#2312187)
Yes, it would be nice to have that talent back, but let's be honest: that's not what Sabathia is implying.

He's implying that it's a tragedy that non-hispanic blacks aren't involved in baseball, because to him, having non-hispanic blacks around is important (after all, he's a non-hispanic black).

You may choose to agree or disagree, but that's what he's really implying.

BTW - As a Latin American, I could never understand why Latin American blacks are not seen as BLACKS by the U.S. African-American population.

I mean, I get that it's not quite the same shared experience, but come on....
   5. dcsmyth1 Posted: March 14, 2007 at 11:37 PM (#2312192)
If blacks (as a group, including not only the kids but also the parents and community organizations) look at baseball and see that baseball players make tons of money, and that blacks can certainly excel in the sport, but still choose to ignore this and overload on basketball and football--well, that's their problem. There are probably many blacks who concentrated in basketball/football and didn't make the pros, but who might have made it in MLB, and now they're working in menial jobs.

So, instead of blaming MLB for not recruiting blacks enough, Sabbathia should be laying the blame where it really belongs. There is no secret effort from MLB to exclude blacks. They simply select the best HS/college/foreign players they can find. If American blacks choose to exclude themselves from that list, that's their problem.
   6. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: March 15, 2007 at 12:04 AM (#2312212)
I blame LeBron James. Actually, that's my new favorite tongue-twister.
   7. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 15, 2007 at 12:18 AM (#2312232)
As a Latin American, I could never understand why Latin American blacks are not seen as BLACKS by the U.S. African-American population.

Possibly the same reason Latin American whites are not seen as WHITES by the US European-American population. Or Singaporean Chinese are not seen as CHINESE by Hong Kong nor Mainland Chinese. Or South African Gujaratis are not seen as INDIANS by people in India. They're not the same ethnic group. Language, art, culture, national identity all matter, not just skin color. In fact skin color is probably the least important variable among these.
   8. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 15, 2007 at 12:22 AM (#2312237)
This debate is rather tired, but the thing that I've never gotten a good answer on is: what is a "good" percentage for non-Hispanic American-Americans in baseball?

According to the US Census Bureau, 12% of the US population is American-American. But that gets diluted when you consider foreign players (I believe about 50% of professional baseball players in MLB or its affiliates are foreign-born). So a representative percentage of African-Americans would seem to be around 6%, which would be an average of about 1.5 players per 25 man roster.

As far as I am aware, the numbers are about twice that (an average of 3 players per 25 man roster). Can someone confirm that?

So the sentiment that "there are not enough blacks in baseball" seems to be based on the premise that African-Americans should be overrepresented in professional sports. And that doesn't quite right with me.
   9. rr Posted: March 15, 2007 at 12:24 AM (#2312242)
This debate is rather tired, but the thing that I've never gotten a good answer on is: what is a "good" percentage for non-Hispanic American-Americans in baseball?

According to the US Census Bureau, 12% of the US population is American-American. But that gets diluted when you consider foreign players (I believe about 50% of professional baseball players in MLB or its affiliates are foreign-born). So a representative percentage of African-Americans would seem to be around 6%, which would be an average of about 1.5 players per 25 man roster.


This was already explained to you. You just ignored it.
   10. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: March 15, 2007 at 12:25 AM (#2312243)
I'm not so convinced that Latin American whites are not seen as WHITES by Anglo-Americans, because it depends a lot on ethnicity (and other factors).

I'll give you an example: Cameron Diaz, who is half Cuban.

Does anyone think of her as non-WHITE?

I'll tell you something else that matters: name and surname.

If your name and surname is Mike Lowell (incidentally, the Puerto Rican born son of a German man and a Cuban woman), and you speak fluent English, you'll be seen as WHITE.

But if your name is PEDRO GOMEZ, are swarthy/mediterranean looking and don't speak impecable english, you'll probably be seen as Latin.
   11. Shibal Posted: March 15, 2007 at 12:32 AM (#2312255)
If you are a great basketball player and a great baseball player, basketball is far more fun than playing baseball. You can dominate a basketball game, get the ball every time down the court, block a few shots into the stands, and nail a cheerleader at half-time.

Not so in baseball. 3-4 ABs a game in front of half-empty stands isn't quite the high as 3-4 dunks with a packed gym. More money in baseball? Sure, if you look at it objectively. But 17 year old kids don't. You talk to any kid that scores 20 points a game in high school basketball; they'll say to a man that they are going to play in the NBA.
   12. bennymurphy Posted: March 15, 2007 at 12:58 AM (#2312284)
Latin American whites are not seen as white because they are recent immigrants with different customs. The same was true when Italians and greeks first started arriving in America. Over time, they will be considered white.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:00 AM (#2312287)
I would think that MLB is more ethnically diverse now than ever before, isnt it?
   14. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:01 AM (#2312289)
@ RR

I have no idea what you are referring to. ???
   15. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:14 AM (#2312302)
The Rays could be a major exception this year, at this point it looks probable that they'll open the season with one-fifth of their roster being black.
   16. rr Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:18 AM (#2312307)
@ RR

I have no idea what you are referring to. ???


In a past thread about this issue, the idea was presented, not by me, but I agree with it, that proportional representation of an ethinicity within a profession in relation to that ethinicity's percentage within the general is not always the best way to evaluate this type of question.

You and I argued, a bit heatedly and personally at times, last time, about this, and you made some good points in rebuttal to mine. I certainly do not agree with Sabathia's position that it is a "crisis" but I do see it as something worth discussing.
   17. rr Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:18 AM (#2312309)
@ RR

I have no idea what you are referring to. ???


In a past thread about this issue, the idea was presented, not by me, but I agree with it, that proportional representation of an ethinicity within a profession in relation to that ethinicity's percentage within the general pop. is not always the best way to evaluate this type of question.

You and I argued, a bit heatedly and personally at times, last time, about this, and you made some good points in rebuttal to mine. I certainly do not agree with Sabathia's position that it is a "crisis" but I do see it as something worth discussing.
   18. Halofan Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:24 AM (#2312314)
I think of Cameron Diaz as HOT, not WHITE.
   19. cwinff Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:45 AM (#2312333)
C.C. is a real good guy, but as a lifelong resident of nearby Fairfield, most of us living near Vallejo would say that the reason why those kids ask "What is baseball?" is due more to their lack of "a few bricks shy of a full load". It is better now than in, say the 70's and 80's when the high schools were really filled with hard cases ( except for that parochial place ), and getting better, but a quick drive on Solano-Springs around Tuolumne will show you a lot.
   20. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:46 AM (#2312334)
Okay, thanks for the explanation.

Weird. I'm sorry that I can't recall the discussion. I remember a very heated discussion years ago on RSBB (was a regular there in the mid/late 1990s)... maybe I'm conflating the two discussions.

I will agree that a simple percentage is only a starting point, not the absolute word on the subject. But it seems to me that if one is to posit that a lower percentage of blacks in MLB represents a problem, then the first step toward resolving the problem is identifying a target range. And while 30% or whatever it was back in the 1970s might be perceived as "normal" to players and fans alike (particularly of a certain age), I'm not convinced that such a mark represents the best baseline.

And I can't help but feel that a move toward a more proportional representation (based on demographic analysis) is necessarily a bad thing. If the move is in part because of something else endemic to race (such as access to college), then perhaps the decline of blacks in baseball does present evidence of a true "crisis."

But it seems to me that any race problem that exists in the MLB today is more a reflection of social problems on the national level, rather than any sort of a racist motivations (intentional or not) by the overwhelming majority of the baseball community (players, owners, executives, scouts, fans, media, etc). Baseball is not perfect and there are certainly injustices and inefficiencies; but for the most part, the most talented get a fair shot.
   21. standuptriple Posted: March 15, 2007 at 02:32 AM (#2312351)
CC is a good guy and what he's trying to say is that there aren't a lot of people who had a similar upbringing as he did. Unfortunately for society there aren't a lot of African American families that were like his (parents together and highly supportive). It does seem as if there is more of a financial obstacle in baseball than other sports and that might be the hardest aspect to overcome.
   22. Jeff K. Posted: March 15, 2007 at 02:38 AM (#2312354)
If blacks (as a group, including not only the kids but also the parents and community organizations) look at baseball and see that baseball players make tons of money, and that blacks can certainly excel in the sport, but still choose to ignore this and overload on basketball and football--well, that's their problem.

If ANY parent or ANY child looks at ANY sport and pays attention to the fact that people who play it at the highest level make a lot of money, then that's a problem.
   23. McCoy Posted: March 15, 2007 at 02:44 AM (#2312358)
BTW - As a Latin American, I could never understand why Latin American blacks are not seen as BLACKS by the U.S. African-American population.

Judging by my own experience I would say that this is a two way street. For instance Africans that I have met do not view themselves as "blacks". To them (again the ones I have met) the blacks are an inferior group of people. Whereas blacks and whites and for that matter any native born person looks down on an African or any foriegner because of differences in culture and language. I would sayt the same goes for Latin American blacks as well but I have not met as many of them as I have Africans. Though the ones I have met have generally taken this view.
   24. Squash Posted: March 15, 2007 at 02:49 AM (#2312359)
I don't think it's any mystery ... baseball is predominantly a suburban game played by suburbanites. Unlike football fields, which double as soccer/lacrosse/gym fields, baseball requires a large fairly specialized space and you don't find much of that in Chicago. Kids aren't playing stickball in the streets of Manhattan like they did in the 50s. Suburbs were only 27% minority in the 2000 Census and 19% in 1990, when most of today's MLB players were growing up.

I'll stay away from the "what should the percentage be" fight, or perhaps cater to both sides, by noting that the US is a) 33% minority as of 2005 (i.e. what kind of suburban minority percentage do you expect?) and b) according to my quick search, as of 2001, the average household net wealth of a white household was seven times that of a black household (i.e. we've got a wealth distribution problem, blacks can't afford to live in the suburbs).

And baseball is an expensive sport to play, lots of equipment, organization, and the space problem, whereas basketball is very cheap and accessible. And as previously noted, don't forget the slam dunk/playground mix tape factor. And don't forget that there are a hell of a lot of white kids who are choosing basketball over baseball in recent years as well. And Hispanic representation in MLB, particularly foreign-born, is increasing hugely, "driving" both whites and blacks out of the game. And so on.
   25. Ben Posted: March 15, 2007 at 02:59 AM (#2312365)
Shibal- Actually, most cross sport players end up trying to play baseball first(money, injury risk, played in the summer). The "problem" is mostly the large increase in foriegn players forcing Americans out and the increase in popularity of basketball(which is really something that only happened in the past 30 years).

So it's not that guys choose basketball over baseball, lots of black teens never play baseball at all.
   26. Ben Posted: March 15, 2007 at 02:59 AM (#2312366)
Shibal- Actually, most cross sport players end up trying to play baseball first(money, injury risk, played in the summer). The "problem" is mostly the large increase in foriegn players forcing Americans out and the increase in popularity of basketball(which is really something that only happened in the past 30 years).

So it's not that guys choose basketball over baseball, lots of black teens never play baseball at all.
   27. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: March 15, 2007 at 03:04 AM (#2312369)
23, Well, if you want to take it that way, I've read and/or heard BLACK commentators say that Barack Obama is not really BLACK, you know (because he's father is or was Kenyan and his mother is White/Caucasian).

Which is as cliquish as you can get, IMO.
   28. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: March 15, 2007 at 03:12 AM (#2312373)
Tiger Woods is Asian.
   29. McCoy Posted: March 15, 2007 at 03:15 AM (#2312374)
Which is as cliquish as you can get, IMO.

It looks basically normal to me. Whites for the most part look at all blacks as being one group. They are not. One hundred years ago if you tried to lump the Irish and English together as one group with one set of problems you would probably get assaulted. Today you might only get cussed at. Skin color is only one part of the whole you are not one of us type view.

An American black I think would be somewhat justified in saying that Obama is not black. Is Obama really part of the black culture of America? What makes him black besides the color of his skin? Can I be French without being from France or having French parents?
   30. McCoy Posted: March 15, 2007 at 03:19 AM (#2312376)
Tiger Woods is Asian.

Nope the Blacks drafted him fair and square. I believe the Asians drafted the Wu-Tang Clan.
   31. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: March 15, 2007 at 03:26 AM (#2312379)
Not so in baseball. 3-4 ABs a game in front of half-empty stands isn't quite the high as 3-4 dunks with a packed gym.


The solution is clearly to recruit more black pitchers.
   32. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: March 15, 2007 at 03:33 AM (#2312380)
I think it's cliquish, because it cuts off U.S. Blacks from other cultural milieus that are very rich, and from which they may have a lot to learn.

Furthermore, I'm a firm believer that if someone would not have gotten served at the lunch counter at Selma (such as Barack) because of his skin color, it's B.S. to double segregate that person by not including him or her in your clique.

But getting back to the Sabathia issue, there's something deeply wrong if Sabathia's rationale would have kept the Obama's, Coling Powell's (Jamaican origin), Patrick Ewing's (Jamaican origin) and Tim Duncan's (BVI) from the black player ranks....

In fact, I'm reminded of a very interesting thing that Ronaldinho, the Brazilian/F.C. Barcelona Hyperstar, said last year: he had never before been coached by two black men, as he'd been in the 2003-2006 Barca (when Frank Rikjaard and Henrik Ten Caate, Dutch blacks or mulattoes were head coach and first assistant of Barca).

If Ronaldinho can feel a strong connection (and comfort) at playing under two non-Brazilian blacks, then I don't see why U.S. blacks can't be more inclusive.
   33. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: March 15, 2007 at 03:37 AM (#2312382)
Sorry, Tim Duncan's not from BVI, but USVI (I was doing some work with a BVI company of late, so I got my acronyms crossed).
   34. Flynn Posted: March 15, 2007 at 04:29 AM (#2312396)
Can I be French without being from France or having French parents?

I don't know, ask Patrick Vieira and Abdel Benazzi.
   35. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: March 15, 2007 at 05:37 AM (#2312408)
According to the US Census Bureau, 12% of the US population is American-American. But that gets diluted when you consider foreign players (I believe about 50% of professional baseball players in MLB or its affiliates are foreign-born). So a representative percentage of African-Americans would seem to be around 6%, which would be an average of about 1.5 players per 25 man roster.

As far as I am aware, the numbers are about twice that (an average of 3 players per 25 man roster). Can someone confirm that?


From the 2005 Racial and Gender Report Card:

"In the 2005 MLB season 59.9% of the players were white, 8.5% were African-American, 28.7% were Latino and 2.5% were of Asian descent...The percentage of international players in MLB was 30.3%, up three percentage points. According to MLB, players born outside of the 50 United States represent 27.4% of those surveyed on the 2006 Opening Day rosters of Major League Baseball."

"The 8.5% African-American player total was the lowest percentage since the Report was initiated in the mid-1980s."

The report also shows that a decade earlier, in 1995, 19% of MLB was African-American.

By your measure, a representative percentage of African-Americans would be (69.7% American) x (12% African-American) = 8.4%. The actual percentage is 8.5%. One could interpret this as proper representation and the previous few decades as drastic over-representation. Alternately, using the other major US sports as a guide, one could say the fact that African-Americans do not play baseball at a rate exceeding their place in the general population is potentially a cause for concern.
   36. Random Transaction Generator Posted: March 15, 2007 at 06:31 AM (#2312417)
Tiger Woods is Asian.

Nope the Blacks drafted him fair and square. I believe the Asians drafted the Wu-Tang Clan.


I really wish that sketch went on JUST a bit longer. It was ####### hilarious.
   37. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 15, 2007 at 06:43 AM (#2312419)
@ DLGM

If you look beyond Opening Day 25 man rosters to the entire universe of American professional baseball (essentially MLB plus its affiliates) I think that you'd find the percentage of foreign players to be closer to 45-50%, IIRC (BA did this a few years back). So that might have a minor impact on the demographic analysis.

Regardless of how you parse the numbers, it really doesn't matter to what I think is the fundamental question: what is the "ideal" percentage of a particular ethnicity. On its face, it is not self-evident to me why a disproportionate supermajority of one particular race (as in the NBA) is more desirable than a proportionate one (as in the current MLB). I don't understand how one can defend such a position without resorting to an underlining premise that most would not comfortable with admitting to in its naked form: a racial stereotype.
   38. dugaton Posted: March 15, 2007 at 07:39 AM (#2312422)
I don't understand how one can defend such a position without resorting to an underlining premise that most would not comfortable with admitting to in its naked form: a racial stereotype.

Well, the justification isn't so much that there should be more black players than would be proportional, just that there are less black players than there were 10 years ago, and from that we can deduce (can we?) that there are less black people interested in baseball than were a decade before.

It would be similar if suddenly the NHL found that, say, Minnesotans had dropped substantially. Why would this be important? Well, it would say that potential player pool was shrinking, along with the potential fan pool, and I don't think anyone would complain about attempts to get more young Americans interested in hockey as a response.

It may just be a perceived issue, rather than an actual issue, but it's not the final proportions that are important, or were even CC's point: it's just that people from his social and ethnic group, young inner-city black kids, have stopped playing the game as much as they did when he was a kid. It isn't a racial stereotype so much as it is an acknowledgement that a group that once made up a disproportionatly large group of players now seems to have lost interest in the game. It would be the same if Latin players suddenly dropped their bats and gloves and took up soccer, and we hear it all the time about the percieved talent drop in white American players 'proved' by the success of Latinos (I remember an article in SI claiming that Shawn Green was like the only white kid in the US to practice fielding every day, and that's why he got so good at it - the tone of the article was 'why have white suburban kids abandoned baseball?').
   39. Lujack Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:21 PM (#2312468)
So #24, despite the high cost of entry why is baseball thriving in the Carribean?

With the talk of Lance Briggs holding out this next year, I got to thinking about players that were contract hold outs and I couldn't come up with any non-black players. Maybe this is selective memory, or maybe it's white stars are more readily paid by management.
   40. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 15, 2007 at 01:35 PM (#2312480)
It is a big issue for baseball to get as many people to play it as possible; that way it gets as many good players as possible.

Not to mention fans.
   41. kthejoker Posted: March 15, 2007 at 03:26 PM (#2312549)
From the 2005 Racial and Gender Report Card


Do you have the MLB numbers for the Gender part of that card? Might be some good data there ...
   42. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 15, 2007 at 04:01 PM (#2312564)
There are probably many blacks who concentrated in basketball/football and didn't make the pros, but who might have made it in MLB, and now they're working in menial jobs.

It is a great idea to concentrate our resources on maximizing their snowball's chance in heck of making MLB rather than improve their educational opportunities.
   43. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: March 15, 2007 at 04:08 PM (#2312570)
Do you have the MLB numbers for the Gender part of that card? Might be some good data there ...

Most of the report deals with non-players, ie front office personnel, MLB Central Office, ownership, broadcasters, etc.

Even so, the majority of grades assigned in the gender category are quite low, ranging from C+ to F.
   44. McCoy Posted: March 15, 2007 at 05:05 PM (#2312597)
With the talk of Lance Briggs holding out this next year, I got to thinking about players that were contract hold outs and I couldn't come up with any non-black players. Maybe this is selective memory, or maybe it's white stars are more readily paid by management.

You really think the punter or some offensive lineman is going to hold out when there is 20 other guys on the roster that can replace them? How many white guys are there in the NFL that could actually pull off a hold out? QB's and . . . ?
   45. MM1f Posted: March 15, 2007 at 05:45 PM (#2312610)
"It is a great idea to concentrate our resources on maximizing their snowball's chance in heck of making MLB rather than improve their educational opportunities."

You don't have to make the Majors. Baseballs still easier than football (insert UT recruiting joke here) or basketball to make money in because you don't need to make it all the way to be succesful.
Even if youre a top 10 rounds pick you make make a 6 figure bonus and even after than you can get a five figure bonus from the draft and get paid to play ball for a few years even if youre none too successful at it.

Footballs the easiest sport to get a scholarship in as theres a 100+ DI-A schools with 80 something scholarships and then DI-AA and D-II schools with fewer, but still many, scholarships. But if you have any amount of pro-level talent baseballs what you should choose from a money/education standpoint. Usually, in addition to the signing bonus, you can the MLB to pay for future college and even if you don't get that even getting a 30,000 bonus in a later round is more than enough to pay for in-state college plus have some money left over.

Basketball is definately your worst choice for scholarships or pay
   46. MM1f Posted: March 15, 2007 at 05:50 PM (#2312612)
"
You really think the punter or some offensive lineman is going to hold out when there is 20 other guys on the roster that can replace them? How many white guys are there in the NFL that could actually pull off a hold out? QB's and . . . ?"

A lineman could sure. Even if they don't get respect from casual fans its obvious to coaches and GMs how valuable good linemen are. Yes good lineman often come into the league as later round picks or UDFAs (and personally I think having a good line is more about the unit working together rather than individual talent) you still want to hold onto good ones and teams will pay to accquire and keep good linemen
   47. CrosbyBird Posted: March 15, 2007 at 06:16 PM (#2312622)
Whites for the most part look at all blacks as being one group.

Nearly every group for the most part looks at other people who are different from them as being in more inclusive groups than what the individuals would self-identify as.

How distinct do Conservative and Reform Jews looks to Christians? Or Anglicans and Baptists to Muslims? Or Uraguayans and Panamanians to Chinese people? Or Texans and Minnesotans to Russian people?
   48. phredbird Posted: March 15, 2007 at 06:29 PM (#2312629)
If your name and surname is Mike Lowell (incidentally, the Puerto Rican born son of a German man and a Cuban woman), and you speak fluent English, you'll be seen as WHITE.

But if your name is PEDRO GOMEZ, are swarthy/mediterranean looking and don't speak impecable english, you'll probably be seen as Latin.


If your name is keith hernandez and you have a porn mustache, you'll be seen as a mexican.
   49. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: March 15, 2007 at 07:49 PM (#2312662)
Ron Mexico?

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