Hanley and Ethnicity

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What has gone unsaid throughout the entire Hanley Ramirez saga is the ever-thickening layer of distrust between American major leaguers and Hispanic major leaguers. It’s not thick, like a piece of paper. It’s thick, like a brick wall.

There are obviously many exceptions here. But an enormous number of American major league players believe their Hispanic teammates to be, by comparison, lazy and indifferent. They view them as merely happy to be here; and all-too-willing to half-ass plays (as Hanley did) at oft-crucial times.

Anyone surprised by this shouldn’t be. The Majors are an extremely sheltered, narrow world. Most of the white American players have been raised strictly among other white Americans. They don’t get the loudness and laughter of their Hispanic peers; don’t show any interest in dominoes or other games and endeavors that are popular in the Latin American countries. The classic example for this came three years ago, when the New York Mets were an absolute mess, and Billy Wagner actually called out some of his Hispanic teammates for ducking their responsibilites with the media after games. Wagner was far from alone in his opinions—he was just dumb (or brave?) enough to say it. Factually, a large number of white ballplayers find their Hispanic teammates to be annoying, grating dogs.

So do I agree? Absolutely not. I love Spanish as a language; love the flavors of the culture (and the zestiness of the food). As for Spanish-speaking players being dogs, well, it’s ludicrous. Look at the Yankees. Is Mariano a dog? Jorge Posada? Robinson Cano? How about some of the all-time greats? Tony Oliva? Roberto Clemente? Juan Marichal? The perception exists because of ignorance, not reality.

But, I assure you, right now in the Florida Marlins clubhouse there are players chalking up Ramirez’s inexcusable behavior not to personal flaws, but to cultural inadequacies.

Que lastima.

PS: Personally speaking, Hanley Ramirez is my least-favorite type of professional athlete, and it has zero to do with ethnicity. He is an arrogant, dismissive punk who seems to believe his (extremely fleeting) status as a baseball star allows him to treat others like dirt.

30 thoughts on “Hanley and Ethnicity”

  1. I’m not so sure that any white Americans are raised primarily around white Americans anymore. Not if they open they’re eyes.

    But I live in San Francisco, so it’s hard for me to remember what growing up in a small sheltered town was like.

    I hope that the ever-thickening layer that you speak of doesn’t exist in the fashion that you think. These dudes should be embracing the diversity and getting dancing lessions, and expanding their horizons and yes – how about increading the comradery and productivity of their teams?

    What the heck good is Jackie Robinson day every April if players aren’t getting the message?

  2. “Arrogant dismissive punk” seems to aptly describe many professional athletes, regardless of ethnicity, who are paid obscene amounts of money to often play at lower levels of desire and intensity than they are capable (see: Kobe, LeBron).

  3. Seriously Jeff, your hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me. Just a few posts ago you rip a colleague for assuming an athlete’s thoughts, and then you go ahead and suggest that an enormous number of major league players are racist towards Hispanics? And your only factual basis is a Billy Wagner quote? Somebody get my head to stop spinning!!!

  4. This is still true?

    I am a bit surprised. I’m a big Red Sox fan and I thought that David Ortiz was the pied piper of that team.

    I know that Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez had their squabbles, but I always thought that was more Martinez’ fault than Schillings. And I absolutely worship Martinez and wish that Schilling would shut his yap.

    Even for all the troubles that Manny Ramirez gave the team, I never thought that the rest of the team didn’t like him (I suppose until that last year).

    And the Sox have had their share of hillbillies (Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Trot Nixon) who seemed to mix in pretty well with the Spanish population (Ortiz, Ramirez, Martinez). Perhaps winning is the only common binder?

    I’m not saying that you’re wrong Jeff, I’m just saying that I’m a bit surprised.

  5. Jim, this shouldn’t amaze you too much. Jeff’s hypocrisy has long been a staple of his blog and his writing. So has his holier-than-thou attitude.

  6. Interesting, I was not aware of that perception.
    I remember years ago when the “Negros” were considered to be lazy.
    Do the Black athletes feel the Hispanics are lazy?
    It seems you have focused on only the Whites.

    I have a friend that was born in Mexico, he has worked hard here in America and owns two homes. He is considering a third for his daughter in LA.
    There is nothing lazy about him.

  7. Jeff, your point is not only valid….it is indicative of the American society as a whole. Remember folks, individuals are smart….people (collectively) are only slightly above lemmings on the evolutionary scale. Differences in ethnicity are prevalent all across this country, and in fact….the world. This same commentary plays out either based on race, ethnicity, class, or gender everywhere you go. The only way to really correct the problem is to have both sides be willing to meet in the middle and find some common ground of understanding where expectations are concerned. Good stuff, Jeff!

  8. Yep, and Hanley Ramirez was read the riot act today by those known white supremacists, Andre Dawson and Tony Perez…

  9. It seems odd that you’re saying Hanley Ramirez’s situation has something to do with his ethnicity when you personally can’t stand the guy for reasons having nothing to do with ethnicty. How do you know the players are not wholesome, good natured and fair people just like you, and simply don’t like his attitude with zero to do with his ethnicity?

  10. Jeff,

    White players also can’t stand how much the hispanic pitchers like throw at batters.

    As politically correct as you may want to be, this has been a problem for a long time.

    Baseball clubhouses are like the rest of our country. People tend to stay and live by their own.

    To be fair, very often, hispanic players when they arrive in the minors, can’t speak the language and are stuck in towns that none of us have heard of. I would have to think there is major culture shock.

    This, in no way , is an excuse for some of the nonsense that many (OK, we can all agree that it’s not ALL!!) of them pull. (Coming up with exceptions is silly. No statement or stereotype will apply 100% to any group.)

    Pointing out Cano is absurd. He was villified for his loafing up until last year.

    When Mota hit Piazza in spring training a few years ago, you remember how the Mets players felt about hispanic pitchers. (I had a couple of friends in that locker room at the time.)

  11. BTW, when my son’s team plays hispanic teams in 12 year old tournaments, their behavior is atrocious.

    They’re considered a joke by all the other coaches……….which is too bad because the kids are damn good players.

    Obviously, different cultures find different acts acceptable. That doesn’t mean we have to like theirs, or they have to like ours. It also doesn’t mean that we can’t say that we their cultural values aren’t acceptable to us………….or perhaps you’re an advocate for cock-fighting?

  12. Byron – of course Jeff is wrong. He always is.

    Jeff – you clearly hate sports and athletes, why do you continue to write this nonsense?

  13. If you want a first hand look at the dynamics on a team with latin american players, read “Odd man out”, it’s about the 2002 Angels Pitching prospect. It also has to do with money, as latin players are signed for much less than an american high school player. Having met Hanley Ramirez on many occasions, I don’t think there is any bias at all. The Red Sox were put off by his personality and work ethic.

  14. Ronner, you do realize that book turned out to be mostly fabricated right? It was just the made-up ramblings of some Ivy League douche who thought he was too good for the minor leagues.

  15. “BTW, when my son’s team plays hispanic teams in 12 year old tournaments, their behavior is atrocious.”

    Now, THAT is some good generalizing right there.

    I bet most of them are illegals too! Am I right? Am I?

    Awesome.

  16. You,my uneducated friend,are an opinionated jackass.Your comments have no merit whatsoever.You are one of those people who see racism at every turn.Ramiriz was called out by a hispanic manager,and dressed down by two african american hall of famers.Where does your hatred of the white man come from?If you are a jackass,your race or ethnicity has no bearing.Idiots come in all races,shapes,and colors.You should know because you are one yourself.

  17. “BTW, when my son’s team plays hispanic teams in 12 year old tournaments, their behavior is atrocious.”
    —————————-

    “Now, THAT is some good generalizing right there.”
    —————————-

    Is it any less factually correct than “a large number of white ballplayers find their Hispanic teammates to be annoying, grating dogs.”? No it is not. At least he can actually provide some cites, I’ll bet.

    Here’s another fact: A large number of Hispanic ballplayers dog it. See! Facts are fun!

    And if you have to ask ‘Is Robbie Cano a dog?”, then you know nothing of his career.

  18. Then let’s hear them.

    I bet that the Hispanic kids don’t wear stirups, listen to salsa music, screw around with their batting gloves and “style” after a home run.

    Guess what, this is baseball in the 2010s. Unless you have a time machine, you’re not going back to the 1950s. You either dig on how the kids play the game or you don’t.

    And I’m sure that there are some kids on EG’s son’s team that do the same thing. Just as I’m sure that there are kids on the “atrociously behaved” Hispanic team that don’t do whatever it is that is causing EG such angst.

    “Is it any less factually correct than “a large number of white ballplayers find their Hispanic teammates to be annoying, grating dogs.”? No it is not.”

    I’m not sure where I ever defended Pearlman’s assertion that is quoted here. In fact, I expressed surprise that he said that because the team that I follow the most (the Boston Red Sox) seem to have a very diverse clubhouse where there isn’t a lot of racial tension.

    Again, I don’t know this for a fact and if it isn’t true, I’m sure the sunshine media members of Boston’s fourth estate would have written about it ad nauseum.

  19. Byron,

    I don’t have angst over this and I wasn’t around to see players in the 50’s thought I do certainly wish the game were played more like I remember growing up in the early 70’s.

    The kids on my team do not “do the same thing” because it’s not only not encouraged, but thoroughly discouraged.

    Why would you think this is the case?

    And, if it did happen, we’d have consequences. That’s how we coach.

    As for not all the kids on the other team acting like buffoons, well, there you have me. There might have been 1 or 2 of the 13 players who conformed to my personal sense of how players and children should comport themselves.

  20. Byron,

    Your either infused with political correctness or just not willing to accept the fact that we’re not all cut from the same cloth.

    Why do you find it so difficult to imagine that the Hispanic tournament team I referred to didn’t act in a way that we “white” coaches found acceptable.

    Maybe if we played in a tournament on their turf they might have thought us to be a bunch of bland kids.

    I’m sorry, but especially at a young age, there’s certain rules of etiquette that virtually all teams follow and this was the one team that didn’t.

    You start banging drums when your pitcher goes into the wind-up……..or scream….or act like buffoons.

    Or, perhaps you are correct and the 5 other eams in the tournament that went to the director to complain were just a bunch of pansies.

  21. To John Pound:

    I think if you really research Robinson you will find that not only was he not over-rated, but I would argue he is (as a ball-player only) under-rated.

    I can not make a statistical argument, but if ever there was a player whose numbers don’t tell the whole story (except that he was a 29yo rookie,) it’s Robinson.

    Unfortunately, most everyone from that era is gone, but if you listen to his contemporaries, I think you might agree. (Or, maybe not.)

  22. Jeff – Your use of the word “factually” is a curious one. Can you point to these facts? One data point across 1000 or so MLB players (i.e. Wagner) does not prove a point.

  23. It’s ironic; I come from a culture which tend to view the whites as “annoying, grating dogs”, as I am Asian-American. The whites I grew up around (mostly Irish, Italians, Jews) came off as much louder and less docile than Asians.

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