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Monday, August 27, 2012

The Atlantic: How Baseball Announcers Subtly Favor American Players Over Foreign Ones

You can’t tell the players without a race card.

The analysis reveals that foreign-born players—the vast majority of whom are Latino—are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to receiving praise for intangibles. Latino players are almost 13 percent less likely to be praised for intangibles than their white counterparts. Announcers are nearly 14 percent more likely to praise a US/Canadian-born player for intangibles than they are their international counterparts. Unfortunately, data is inconclusive as to whether or not American-born Latino players such as the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez are also at a disadvantage, or whether the bias only applies to foreign-born Latinos. Black players—a population in decline in MLB—are not at any particular disadvantage. There are not enough Asian players in MLB to draw any meaningful conclusions.

A difference of 13 to 14 percent may not seem very large, but over the course of a 162-game season, a player is exposed to over 300 broadcasts—nearly every MLB team has its own affiliate with its own announcing crew that covers its games. Add in the fact that in any given broadcast, announcers are likely to use from between 20 and 40 intangibles, and the number of intangibles that could involve the player leaps nearly into the thousands. This bias over the course of the season can help paint a picture of a player using terms that have no grounding in measurable reality.

Knowing that announcers treat players differently based on their nationality or Latino status is less interesting than knowing how they treat players differently. Here, the distinctions become more obvious.

While there is no difference between race or nationality when it comes to performance-based descriptions, effort-based and character-based descriptions make a big difference. Players born in the US or Canada are 10 percent more likely to be praised for their effort. White players are 10 percent more likely to be praised for their character.

Repoz Posted: August 27, 2012 at 11:31 AM | 75 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: August 27, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4219114)
Black and Latino players are athletic and physically skilled. White players try harder and are smarter. Duh.
   2. Austin Posted: August 27, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4219117)
I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised that the gaps are so small. I would have expected all of these numbers to be above 20%. Still... 10-15% isn't great.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 27, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4219119)
Brandon Belt is white? For some reason I always thought he was of some sort of mixed-race.
   4. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: August 27, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4219120)
We need an immediate change based on this shocking data. From now on, all announcers must refer to all foreign-born players as "gutty" or "gritty" at least once during a telecast. (Plucky is also acceptable).
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 27, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4219129)
Did announcers get bonus points for not butchering foreign name pronunciations?
   6. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 27, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4219139)
I wonder whether there's any difference between announcers who played in the majors, presumably with Latino players, and those that came from journalism or other backgrounds. Hawk Harrelson, for one, is pretty effusive when it comes to Cuban players and their character. Mike Shannon expressed admiration for the character of Jose Oquendo, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina.
   7. AROM Posted: August 27, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4219144)
A good read.

What we have here is "baseball birther-ism." Certainly, there have been instances in recent years of Latino players lying about their age (Miguel Tejada) or even their identities (Fausto Carmona actually being Roberto Hernandez, Leo Nunez actually being Juan Oviedo), but none of those players are American citizens, and none of them have resided in the US as long as Pujols. Presumably, Pujols went through far more stringent tests of his documentation when applying for citizenship. Heyman's birth-certificate quip is unwarranted for Pujols, and would be completely laughable if suggested for Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds' Canadian All-Star first baseman who signed a $200 million deal of his own this season. Heyman's skepticism only applies to Latino players, and is entirely inappropriate in the case of Pujols. Presumably Heyman—who has a history of this sort of thing—did not intend to make an offensive remark, but the tweet is informed by bias.


Pujols age rumors and jokes were pretty common when he first came up. Like a photoshop of him standing next to Babe Ruth. Those had largely been forgotten until Heyman brings it back right before his free agency.

Looking back on it, I figure it just comes down to Pujols not being a Boras client, and his rival for first base free agent dollars, Fielder, being one.
   8. spycake Posted: August 27, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4219151)
Not that I'm disputing this, but I wonder if the draft has an effect. Obviously all US/Canadian players are subject to the draft, so some of them are drafted in later rounds or even go undrafted, allowing us to view their careers through a kind of underdog/hustle lens. Whereas foreign players are all free agents and never sorted or ranked upon entry to pro ball, so it's easy to assume they were all once highly-regarded.
   9. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4219152)
Wee, shrimpy guys who can "play multiple positions" are lauded for their intangibles more than big guys with talent who are actually good. "Studying" the issue requires adjusting for that.

If utility and bench jobs tend to go more to non-whites because the job is seen as requiring intangibles and whites are seen as possessing more intangibles, there might be a story there, but TFA isn't worth much.
   10. Greg K Posted: August 27, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4219159)
This headline could work if you substitute "baseball" with "hockey", "American" with "Canadian" and just plain delete "subtly"
   11. JE (Jason) Posted: August 27, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4219163)
A good read.

I would go with interesting ... and way long.

Two thoughts: The opening paragraphs were unnecessary could have been boiled down to two sentences and the slap at Heyman was over-the-top. (The link the authors produce to back up their insinuation that Heyman is racially insensitive or worse was nonsencial.)
   12. flournoy Posted: August 27, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4219171)
"Intangibles" are largely expressed through spoken communication. American born players speak English as a first language, and most foreign born players do not. Foreign born players, in general, are at a disadvantage when expressing themselves through their second or third language. Broadcasters and the media in general will have more positive things to say about guys with whom they can carry on a more natural conversation. This is so obvious, that I think it's rather sad it needs to be said.
   13. JE (Jason) Posted: August 27, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4219174)
FTA:
Why August? In theory, due to how long the baseball season is, selecting any one-week window should be representative of any other one-week window. August, however, is unique:

... The trading deadline has passed, further lending stability to rosters.

HAHAHAHAHA!!!
   14. PreservedFish Posted: August 27, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4219177)
OK, I'm going to risk spinning this thread off to crazyville, but bear with me. I wonder if some of the gap is justified. A non-controversial point in favor of that argument:

Because international Latino players are typically chosen on their raw physical skills, it wouldn't be surprising if the MLB talent-acquisition process makes it more likely that white players get chosen based on their scrappiness. An American kid that lacks overt physical talents has hundreds of games to prove his quality, a statistical record, and scouts get to see him hustle and make decisions in real games. His scrappy Latino equivalent doesn't have the same opportunity to prove himself. By the same token, the fact that the American kid has played hundreds and hundreds of games in his life, while the Latino kid has spent a huge percentage of his time training for an NFL-combine style skills demonstration, might mean that the American kids do in fact have an advantage on things like game-intelligence.

The fact that the study found no difference between black and white players seems potentially important to me. White:Black::Scrappy:Talented has been the joke on this site for a decade, but there's no evidence here of that. Black Americans have the same exact advantages that I listed above.
   15. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4219186)
#14 - What do you mean by "game intelligence"? How would you recognize if someone had it or not, and to what degree? Which statistics are an indicator of it?
   16. zenbitz Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4219188)
@3 Belt is 1/4 giraffe.

My 8 year old asked me yesterday... "Why are most quarterbacks white?" Dammit kid, can't you ask me about sex or religion? #LiberalParentWoes
   17. winnipegwhip Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4219190)
We need an immediate change based on this shocking data. From now on, all announcers must refer to all foreign-born players as "gutty" or "gritty" at least once during a telecast. (Plucky is also acceptable).


David Ortiz is a gritty little player that is an asset to the Red Sox.
   18. winnipegwhip Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4219191)
I didn't RTFA but did the analysis include commentary on Spanish broadcasts?
   19. PreservedFish Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4219199)
#14 - What do you mean by "game intelligence"? How would you recognize if someone had it or not, and to what degree? Which statistics are an indicator of it?


Oh, come on.
   20. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4219200)
You don't intangible off the island.
   21. Justin T is going to crush some tacos Thursday Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4219203)
Oh, come on.

Well, I'm convinced!
   22. PreservedFish Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4219207)
Well, I'm convinced!


Game intelligence is a real thing, right? Making the right decisions, playing smart baseball. We can agree that that exists, right? That not all players have it equally? I feel like this isn't worth arguing about.

If it does exist, it seems possible that the 20 year olds that have played a thousand baseball games might be better at it than the 20 year olds that spent their youth being coached on how to impress scouts during a quick tryout.
   23. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4219209)
I don't see anywhere in the article where the "study" controlled for performance, shape of statistics, etc. They assume all races produce similarly distributed skills and makeup. PreservedFish does a good job starting the look into things in #14.
   24. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4219211)
White players are 10 percent more likely to be praised for their character.


Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see how they defined "white." Derek Jeter alone could be the tipping point here.
   25. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4219215)
If it does exist, it seems possible that the 20 year olds that have played a thousand baseball games might be better at it than the 20 year olds that spent their youth being coached on how to impress scouts during a quick tryout.


Another thing is that Latin players with the physical tools of a 20th round draft choice* probably never get signed. Meanwhile, a million American players cycle through the minors from the late stages of the draft, and a small percentage of them do in fact make the majors. Presumably they are making up for their lack of raw tools with something like baseball intelligence. It'd be measured in the same statistics that everything else is measured by, it's just that the ratio of tools:smarts they use to arrive at these stats is more weighted towards smarts than the ratio of a more talented player.

No idea if this is actually true, just a theory. Thought I'd bet that the 15% is part prejudice and part prejudice.

* I'm making up the round number. It might be 10th, it might be 30th. You know what I mean.
   26. franoscar Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4219219)
There is no different between US-born black & white because 99.5% of the comments are about Derek Jeter. (I started writing this comment before I saw #24, and I'm leaving this sentence in!)

On the Tigers there does seem to be a talent gap. The announcers don't have a lot of time to talk about Miguel Cabrera's "intangibles", they are busy talking about his hitting!

The announcers for the Tigers, both radio & television, have a very strong persona of "nice guy". So...what are they going to say about the less-talented utility/bench players? They're going to talk about intangibles. So if the utility/bench players are more likely to be US-born, then that will match the numbers in the article.

I believe there is some bias, but I also think it is very possible that it takes more skill for a foreign-born player to make it to the major league.

--Fran
   27. Joe Kehoskie Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4219223)
Agree with #15, #22, and #25. The only thing this article succeeded in showing was just how little the authors know about baseball's player-procurement process.
   28. Justin T is going to crush some tacos Thursday Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4219225)
Game intelligence is a real thing, right? Making the right decisions, playing smart baseball. We can agree that that exists, right? That not all players have it equally? I feel like this isn't worth arguing about.

The concept of game intelligence is not that difficult to define. Yet there were two other questions in that post which definitely require more than your Francesa-wave.
   29. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4219229)
"This headline could work if you substitute "baseball" with "hockey", "American" with "Canadian" and just plain delete "subtly""

Well, that would imply that hockey is a real thing, which it isn't, and that Canada is a real place, which is also obviously untrue. That's a poor lookout for a news outlet.
   30. Randy Jones Posted: August 27, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4219234)
Well, that would imply that hockey is a real thing, which it isn't, and that Canada is a real place, which is also obviously untrue. That's a poor lookout for a news outlet.

The greatest trick Canada ever pulled was convincing the world it didn't exist
   31. BDC Posted: August 27, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4219244)
Agree with #15, #22, and #25

There's a logic there, certainly. Of course, nothing prevents a Latin player from having extraordinary baseball intelligence. I've watched players from Pudge Rodriguez to Elvis Andrus come out of Latin America practically in their infancy, yet seemingly knowing the game like Jimmy Reese's grandfather. It's a quality some guys just seem to possess, like skill at a pure game like chess, and experience just makes it stronger.
   32. Random Transaction Generator Posted: August 27, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4219257)
This headline could work if you substitute "baseball" with "hockey", "American" with "Canadian" and just plain delete "subtly"

The exception that proves the rule is/was Nicklas Lidstrom.
   33. Random Transaction Generator Posted: August 27, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4219265)
For the Blue Jays fans, we've been constantly reminded by the local broadcasters for the past two years about Jose Bautista's intangibles.

"He's the team leader."
"He helps the young guys."
"He knows the game inside and out."

It may be true (and a lot of the younger players like Lawrie, Arencibia, and Romero do mention him in interviews), but they really push that narrative a bit TOO hard sometimes.

In better times, it was a big deal in Toronto about how Dave Winfield's arrival helped push the team to the next level (plus his call for fans to be "louder").
   34. AROM Posted: August 27, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4219267)
There's a logic there, certainly. Of course, nothing prevents a Latin player from having extraordinary baseball intelligence. I've watched players from Pudge Rodriguez to Elvis Andrus come out of Latin America practically in their infancy, yet seemingly knowing the game like Jimmy Reese's grandfather. It's a quality some guys just seem to possess, like skill at a pure game like chess, and experience just makes it stronger.


When Erick Aybar first came up, I thought he had to be one of the dumbest players ever. Watching him now, he seems like a pretty smart player. I think this might be a case of a guy with good intelligence learning through game experience.

It might be interesting for BIS or somebody to come up with categories of smart plays and dumb plays, similar to their great fielding plays/misplays. Things like trying to steal 3B with 2 outs in the 9th, with your team down by 2 runs. Or forgetting how many outs there are. Guys like Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and Chase Utley would probably come out on top. If someone were to try this, might as well include managers as well as players.
   35. Jim Kaat on a hot Gene Roof Posted: August 27, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4219276)
This thread hasn't exploded into total blargh yet? What happened to Racer-X and Wok? And the guy who insisted that NOT putting accents on Latino's players names was RACIST RACIST RACIST (I still haven't forgiven my qwerty keyboard, with its KKK membership paid up in full), who was that? Enders?
   36. Moeball Posted: August 27, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4219282)
I've watched players from Pudge Rodriguez to Elvis Andrus come out of Latin America practically in their infancy, yet seemingly knowing the game like Jimmy Reese's grandfather.


I might leave Andrus out of that list after his horrible gaffe in Game 6 of the WS last year where he had an easy force at 2nd to end an inning and instead hesitated, then threw late to first prolonging the inning for St. Louis.

Admittedly, however, Elvis isn't the first guy in history to have a brain cramp in the WS and he may actually be a pretty "heads up" player most of the time.
   37. tjm1 Posted: August 27, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4219284)
David Ortiz is a gritty little player that is an asset to the Red Sox.


Well, Ortiz is frequently discussed as a team leader.

Another thing is that Latin players with the physical tools of a 20th round draft choice* probably never get signed.


They get signed. They just rarely make it past the Dominican Summer League level of baseball. At least that's my take on it. Off the top of my head, Placido Polanco doesn't really seem to have any outstanding tools, apart from hand-eye coordination.
   38. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 27, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4219286)
It might be interesting for BIS or somebody to come up with categories of smart plays and dumb plays, similar to their great fielding plays/misplays. Things like trying to steal 3B with 2 outs in the 9th, with your team down by 2 runs. Or forgetting how many outs there are. Guys like Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and Chase Utley would probably come out on top. If someone were to try this, might as well include managers as well as players.


Right, you need the managers in here because you don't know when a "dumb" play was called by him, or even whether a "smart" play was called by him.
   39. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 27, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4219287)
Another thing is that Latin players with the physical tools of a 20th round draft choice* probably never get signed.
Yeah, I think this is a load of crap. The DSL is a huge league for the population of the Dominican Republic. If you can play ball, you're going to be on someone's DSL club. Just stocking those clubs requires getting guys who wouldn't even rate 40th round selections in the MLB draft.
   40. Bug Selig Posted: August 27, 2012 at 03:01 PM (#4219290)
Well, Ortiz is frequently discussed as a team leader.


Someday, we hope to hear it from someone not named David Ortiz.
   41. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 27, 2012 at 03:16 PM (#4219304)
Another thing is that Latin players with the physical tools of a 20th round draft choice* probably never get signed. Meanwhile, a million American players cycle through the minors from the late stages of the draft, and a small percentage of them do in fact make the majors. Presumably they are making up for their lack of raw tools with something like baseball intelligence. It'd be measured in the same statistics that everything else is measured by, it's just that the ratio of tools:smarts they use to arrive at these stats is more weighted towards smarts than the ratio of a more talented player.

The announcers for the Tigers, both radio & television, have a very strong persona of "nice guy". So...what are they going to say about the less-talented utility/bench players? They're going to talk about intangibles. So if the utility/bench players are more likely to be US-born, then that will match the numbers in the article.

I believe there is some bias, but I also think it is very possible that it takes more skill for a foreign-born player to make it to the major league.

If in fact, there are more crappy American players than crappy foreign players, these factors may be part of the explanation for the finding, but the list of 10 most praised players includes stars like Prince Fielder, Jim Thome, Zack Greinke, Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun. Specifically choosing to focus on their "character" rather than extraordinary baseball skills seems telling to me. The list of most criticized players included Albert Pujols who, as far as I know, isn't any more baseball stupid than any of those most praised.
   42. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 27, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4219307)
This thread hasn't exploded into total blargh yet? What happened to Racer-X and Wok? And the guy who insisted that NOT putting accents on Latino's players names was RACIST RACIST RACIST (I still haven't forgiven my qwerty keyboard, with its KKK membership paid up in full), who was that? Enders?

If you want to start shrieking about the political correctness police, you're free to do so.
   43. BDC Posted: August 27, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4219320)
Admittedly, however, Elvis isn't the first guy in history to have a brain cramp in the WS

Exactly; I mean, the same series featured Tony LaRussa not knowing what pitcher he was bringing in :) A busted play or two here or there is inevitable; watching Andrus continually, however, has been a great treat. He turned 24 yesterday, an age when some guys are just breaking into the majors, and he's already a Seasoned Veteran.
   44. BDC Posted: August 27, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4219324)
Albert Pujols who, as far as I know, isn't any more baseball stupid

Pujols seems to me an arrogant guy with loathsome politics, which may account for the ill rep. As a baseball player, though, he's basically a Will Clark who hits like a Joe DiMaggio. One of the smarter and more alert guys on any given field; it's a pleasure to watch him play.
   45. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 27, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4219333)
Pujols seems to me an arrogant guy with loathsome politics, which may account for the ill rep

What are Pujols's politics, and are they out of the mainstream among baseball players?
   46. tjm1 Posted: August 27, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4219352)
What are Pujols's politics, and are they out of the mainstream among baseball players?


The only political issues with which I can see an association with Pujols are that he attended Glenn Beck's rally after being told it was non-political, and that he opposed the Arizona immigration law. He's also very outspokenly religious. So, we have one case of associating himself with the far right, but it might have been because of gullibility. We have one case of him taking a center-left position, but one which might be taken by a lot of center-right people of his ethnic background. He's never made a campaign contribution over $200.
   47. dejarouehg Posted: August 27, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4219353)
Pujols seems to me an arrogant guy with loathsome politics
I've never heard anything about his politics but his rep as being aloof is pretty well-known.

The chasm between the Latino and non-Latino players in locker rooms, especially in the minors, is one of the more under-reported stories.

I was told by two players that they can't stand the latino pitchers b/c they are viewed as headhunters who are too chicken-sh** to get a bat and deal with retaliation. One of them was in the middle of the Piazza/Mota spring training fracas years ago and that was the team's sentiment.

As for establishing the baseball IQ for some players, if you watched Bernie Williams run the bases for a little bit or continually throw to the wrong base/cut-off man, you would know that his baseball IQ was somewhere south of his hat size and that if you can play like Bernie could, it just wasn't that important. On the flip side, there are certain players who you know have superior baseball intelligence, such as A-Rod.




   48. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: August 27, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4219370)
Calling someone's politics "loathsome" is a little subjective, no?
   49. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 27, 2012 at 04:13 PM (#4219374)
Isn't the concept of "baseball intelligence" variable, though? I'm sure that John McGraw and Earl Weaver would define what constitutes "baseball intelligence" quite differently. Ichiro, who IMO is one of the savviest players I've ever seen, was sometimes lambasted in Seattle for bunting for a hit with two outs and a runner on second. In Japan, that's regarded as a good play if the bunter has a reasonable chance of success. To someone brought up in the Japanese game, that might be seen as the "baseball intelligent" play, while to an American it might not...
   50. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 27, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4219379)
The only political issues with which I can see an association with Pujols are that he attended Glenn Beck's rally after being told it was non-political, and that he opposed the Arizona immigration law. He's also very outspokenly religious. So, we have one case of associating himself with the far right, but it might have been because of gullibility. We have one case of him taking a center-left position, but one which might be taken by a lot of center-right people of his ethnic background. He's never made a campaign contribution over $200.

This doesn't seem all that loathsome or extreme to me. Lots of people attended the Beck rally, including Tony LaRussa, and lots of people opposed the Arizona immigration law, including those who think states shouldn't have immigration laws. I see nothing that would cause a systematic verbal assault on his baseball smarts.

Isn't the concept of "baseball intelligence" variable, though? I'm sure that John McGraw and Earl Weaver would define what constitutes "baseball intelligence" quite differently. Ichiro, who IMO is one of the savviest players I've ever seen, was sometimes lambasted in Seattle for bunting for a hit with two outs and a runner on second. In Japan, that's regarded as a good play if the bunter has a reasonable chance of success. To someone brought up in the Japanese game, that might be seen as the "baseball intelligent" play, while to an American it might not...

If WPA goes up it's a good play, no?
   51. BDC Posted: August 27, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4219388)
Calling someone's politics "loathsome" is a little subjective, no?

But I'm trying to account for bias among observers. And really, Glenn Beck is beyond loathsome; to claim not to have an idea of who he was when you went to his rally is perplexing. But let's say Pujols is just a bit of a gullible innocent; that in itself might cause some people to question his judgment in other walks of life. I simply don't think that throwing to the correct base correlates very much with statesmanlike political bearing :)
   52. Bruce Markusen Posted: August 27, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4219390)
I think this article would have been on the money about 25 to 30 years ago, but I just don't see the same level of "subtle" racism in the way the media assesses the character of today's players. Oh, it still happens occasionally, but I just don't hear the stereotypes as often as I did in the early eighties.

Just take the Yankees, the team I follow the closest, as an example. The two players who are most praised, not just for their greatness as players, but as guys who play and act "the right way" are Jeter and Rivera. No one has ever called them lazy or criticized their attitudes. Jeter is African American and Rivera is Panamanian.

The guy who hustles as much as anybody and plays the game in a fundamentally sound way is Granderson, who is black.

The guy who is criticized for being less than a hard worker and out of shape is Chamberlain, who is white. (Yes, he is also part Native American, but I would say first and foremost he is recognized as white.)

The one exception to all of this might be A-Rod, who is generally vilified for all sorts of reasons of character. Now that might be because he is Latino; I would argue that it has more to do with his salary and his continuing presence as one of the game's high paid prima donnas.
   53. tjm1 Posted: August 27, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4219410)
The one exception to all of this might be A-Rod, who is generally vilified for all sorts of reasons of character. Now that might be because he is Latino; I would argue that it has more to do with his salary and his continuing presence as one of the game's high paid prima donnas.


I think the reason is actually that he comes across as a big phony, who spent his youth trying to manipulate his image, instead of just being himself.


The guy who hustles as much as anybody and plays the game in a fundamentally sound way is Granderson, who is black.


Granderson also wears high socks. I'm convinced that if we tried to rate players on intangibles, without worrying about the irony of doing so, that high socks would be worth 1.5 points on a ten point scale.
   54. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 27, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4219459)
One week seems like a pretty small sample size. Unless the BBTF conventional wisdom is wrong, how else do you account for Derek Jeter not being among the most praised players? Did they just disqualify anyone that was multi-racial? I'm somewhat suspicious that this study just found what would call the most attention to its authors.
   55. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: August 27, 2012 at 05:39 PM (#4219486)
If you're all interested in seeing this project's development from its genesis:

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3428578
   56. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 27, 2012 at 05:49 PM (#4219498)
Granderson also wears high socks. I'm convinced that if we tried to rate players on intangibles, without worrying about the irony of doing so, that high socks would be worth 1.5 points on a ten point scale.

A-Rod is also a high-socks guy, yes?

Moving positions in deference to a new teammate would be darned scrappy and gritty if Pete Rose did it.
   57. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 27, 2012 at 06:48 PM (#4219553)
I wish that I remembered which player it was, and especially which announcer. About a decade ago, a Japanese transplant who'd come to MLB delivered a big run-scoring hit, and the announcer excitedly said "Do you think he realizes what he's just done?" The ghost of Jackie Robinson, who was watching the game with me, said, "Wow, that's pretty racist."
   58. Joe Kehoskie Posted: August 27, 2012 at 07:17 PM (#4219594)
I missed the "racist" part of that story.
   59. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 27, 2012 at 07:32 PM (#4219604)
Being condescending to Japanese people is sort of racist, I guess. But it would be better to just say "condescending".
   60. Joe Kehoskie Posted: August 27, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4219614)
I guess the story needs more info. If the announcer was implying the Japanese guy didn't realize the obvious — that he had gotten a big hit — then I might agree with #57. Otherwise, if the announcer was talking about some historical angle that the player might not have been concerned with in the heat of the moment, then no.
   61. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 27, 2012 at 07:57 PM (#4219620)
I guess the story needs more info. If the announcer was implying the Japanese guy didn't realize the obvious — that he had gotten a big hit — then I might agree with #57. Otherwise, if the announcer was talking about some historical angle that the player might not have been concerned with in the heat of the moment, then no.


I have no idea who the player was, but I immediately thought of Tsuyoshi Shinjo playing for the Giants. If he'd come up with a big hit to beat the Dodgers, I'm sure he would have realised he got a game winning hit, but he might not have been fully aware of the depth of rivalry between the two clubs.
   62. Bob Tufts Posted: August 27, 2012 at 09:56 PM (#4219691)
I'm waiting for an article from the Japanese publication "The Pacific" to enlighten me on this topic.
   63. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 27, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4219694)
I think this article would have been on the money about 25 to 30 years ago, but I just don't see the same level of "subtle" racism in the way the media assesses the character of today's players. Oh, it still happens occasionally, but I just don't hear the stereotypes as often as I did in the early eighties.

Bruce is exactly right-- it used to be much worse and was black/white rather than Latino/white. The textbook example was the mid 80's Mets and how Dykstra and Mookie were described..NO ONE ever hustled as much as Mookie (not to say he was a great ballplayer, but he hustled his ass off every play). But Dykstra was "Nails" the hard-nosed hustler. The MSM meme was that Dykstra was running fast because he was hustling, while Mookie was running fast because he was black
   64. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 27, 2012 at 10:15 PM (#4219704)
some historical angle
[---] depth of rivalry betwen the two clubs


The remark was definitely the "just did something successful in an American baseball game" type, and not the "added another chapter to the storied saga of the Little Brown Jug" kind. I sorely wish I could recall the names involved; it was a Japanese hitter.
   65. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4219722)
If you're all interested in seeing this project's development from its genesis:

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3428578


You know I'm missing like 20 PA for Ted Williams vs lefties. If you guys wish to donate a couple hundred bucks I bet I could knock it out.
   66. Walt Davis Posted: August 28, 2012 at 01:18 AM (#4219807)
Wee, shrimpy guys who can "play multiple positions" are lauded for their intangibles more than big guys with talent who are actually good. "Studying" the issue requires adjusting for that.

Yeah ... but I believe Latin American players are still predominantly clustered in the middle infield, CF and increasingly C. They are a lot of the multiple position guys. Granted that the number of Latin "big guys with talent" has increased substantially over the last 2 decades.

OK, I'll take it back. Viewing the HR leaders of the last decade, looks like about half are Latin American (esp if we include folks born in the US). There's a "good mix" among the multi-position players as well (to the extent they can be identified within P-I). But then that suggests you can't gain much by controlling for shrimpy/big as Latin players don't appear to be over-represented in either group.

The lack of difference among blacks and whites suggests that "blanco-ness" isn't playing a role here either but it would be interesting to magically know that.
   67. depletion Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:16 AM (#4219927)
Granderson also wears high socks. I'm convinced that if we tried to rate players on intangibles, without worrying about the irony of doing so, that high socks would be worth 1.5 points on a ten point scale.

Also on the intangibles list:
2) sliding in head first, creating a huge cloud of dust in a rainstorm, even when there is no throw to the base.
3) wearing a baggy uniform. This makes you work harder, just to run.
4) Four fingered glove. As far as I know, they don't make these anymore. What a shame. Maybe some Latino players can get these to show their "respect for the game."
   68. God Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:19 AM (#4219930)
Derek Holland wore stirrups last night and won the game. Not high socks, mind you, actual stirrups. Major intangible points for that.
   69. Howie Menckel Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:26 AM (#4219936)

"White players are 10 percent more likely to be praised for their character."

I'm pretty sure my brain was naturally discounting the value of a comment that a white player has "character" by more than just 10 percent. So now I'll have to lessen the adjustment. Good news for white guys!



   70. God Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:31 AM (#4219940)
Good news for white guys

In an effort to combat declining circulation, the Wall Street Journal has announced they are changing their name to this.
   71. God Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:31 AM (#4219941)
[Even God double posts sometimes]
   72. Ron J2 Posted: August 28, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4219954)
#63 There was a variation of this at play with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Johnson was a phenomenally gifted athlete. Bird word hard at his craft. Johnson's a pretty up beat kind of guy but there's little question that this pissed him off. (As with almost everybody who's at the top of his craft, Johnson put plenty of time in getting there)

   73. TDF, situational idiot Posted: August 28, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4220035)
Ya know, Latinos Miguel Cairo and Wilson Valdez better have 3 truck loads of "grit" and 4 more of "intangibles" between them because the 5 Reds starting pitchers, as a group, are hitting just as well:

Pitchers:
304 PA, 262 AB
.429 OPS
63 TB
10 XBH
2 SF

Cairo/Valdez:
284 PA, 268 AB
.457 OPS
65 TB
11 XBH
2 SF

Bronson Arroyo has as many HRs as those two put together.
   74. PreservedFish Posted: August 28, 2012 at 11:24 AM (#4220070)
Derek Holland wore stirrups last night and won the game. Not high socks, mind you, actual stirrups. Major intangible points for that.


I imagine the equipment manager bringing a duffle of stirrups on every road trip and just praying that someone asks for a pair.
   75. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 28, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4220300)
Ya know, Latinos Miguel Cairo and Wilson Valdez better have 3 truck loads of "grit" and 4 more of "intangibles" between them because the 5 Reds starting pitchers, as a group, are hitting just as well:

Pitchers:
304 PA, 262 AB
.429 OPS
63 TB
10 XBH
2 SF

Cairo/Valdez:
284 PA, 268 AB
.457 OPS
65 TB
11 XBH
2 SF

Bronson Arroyo has as many HRs as those two put together.


Leake, Latos, and Arroyo have all hit game winning home runs this season.

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