As someone who loves to speak uncomfortable truths myself, I have to say that I have no problem with Gary Sheffield when he speaks his mind. Sheffield is to baseball, what Francis Holland has become to the blogosphere. I love the guys honesty, his blunt talk, and the way he can straight stroke a baseball. Believe me, as a long time Detroit Tigers fan (don't ask how) this is important to me.
So Gary Sheffield has been "stirring the pot" again. This time by calling out the Yankees and their Manager, Joe Torre, for their double standard when it comes to their treatment of black players. Sheffield, because of his abilities as a player, and because of his veteran status has been acting as an unofficial spokesperson for the African American players in Major League Baseball . His comments about the passive Latin players and baseball's more willingness to deal with them, was also controversial and drew criticism from a majority white sports public tired of hearing about race. They wish the talk of race in their beloved sports world would just go away like one of Sheffield's home runs deep into Tiger stadium.
But why should it? Why shouldn't Sheffield be able to speak his mind? Every great athlete who makes a Brinks Truck load of money can't be like Mike, or Magic, or, for that matter, Tiger. No, some people in America,regardless of how much money they make actually call bullshit when they see it. For the record, I despise Michael Jordon as a person. I think he is a sellout, and is someone who turned his back on his people so that little white boys in Iowa can have his posters on their walls, and little black boys in inner city America can kill and rob each other for his $150 branded sneakers. Now he spends his retirement running from golf course to golf course gambling away his money, and playing O.J. (think about it) from one resort to another. He and his side kick, the round mound of buffoonery, also known as Sir Charles, are beloved by white folks because they never say things to really make them (white folks) uncomfortable. Charles tries from time to time, but he is viewed more as a big joke, and is never taken seriously by anyone who listen to him. Sheffield, on the other hand, is viewed as an "angry black man" ---at least that's how one local sports talk show described him today--- and thus he makes white folks uncomfortable. The response to his statements are often swift and vitriolic. "The guy makes millions and he is still angry, Sheffield should just shut up and play, he makes good money what is he bitching about, he makes more money that I will ever see in my life, and I am white." (God forbid a black man does that) Nothing puzzles white folks more than a black man who makes a lot of money but still bitches about inequities in society. To them, money is the great equalizer and should cure all woes real and perceived. Sheffield was confronted with another popular comeback when the uncomfortable issue of race is raised. Well if the Yankees are so bad why is it that a black player -Derek Jeter- gets the mega star treatment from them. (If America is so bad for black people how come Oprah is so rich?) Sheffield's response was that Jeter wasn't "all the way black", that he is both "black and white" true statements because Jeter is the child of a mixed marriage. Yet I am sure he will be pillaged for that one as well.
Now let me say for the record that I don't know anything about what goes on behind the scenes with the Yankees or Joe Torre. Sheffield said that other black players had an issue with Torre because "they weren't treated like everyone else". They were called out and "disrespected" while the white players weren't. This may or may not have been true. But I will say this; if it is true I wouldn't be surprised. What, cause they are the Yankees they are above racism? Bullshit! When it comes to racism everybody is a fucking suspect.
So keep speaking your mind Mr. Sheffield, no matter how uncomfortable it makes people. The other field Negroes out here have your back, and we are glad you make other people uncomfortable. Hell they should be, America is an uncomfortable place, and baseball is as American as apple pie.
(Cross posted at the field negro blog)