Question of the day: Is one ethnic group in baseball favored over another? [Updated]
Reporters from the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic in light of recent comments by Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, who said Asian players are treated better than Latinos. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times
Guillen made a good point about Japanese players generally getting translators and Latino players generally not getting them, but Guillen overlooked the fact that most teams offer English lessons to Spanish-speaking prospects as they come through academies in the Dominican Republic and rookie ball in the United States. In contrast, Japanese players usually come to the major leagues after long careers in their homeland.
This is the more relevant point: It's not easy for anyone to speak to the media in a second language, and it's entirely understandable for a foreign player -- from Japan, the Dominican Republic or elsewhere -- to shun interviews without the shield of a translator rather than risk being misunderstood or caricatured. But those who master a second language can go far in the game -- as Guillen did by learning English and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia did by learning Spanish.
Steve Gould, The Baltimore Sun
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s comments Sunday weren’t just on the money, they were sorely needed.
When Guillen questioned why Asian major leaguers are afforded interpreters while Latino players are not, you couldn’t help but say, “Yeah, what’s the deal?”
You can argue that Spanish and English are a lot more similar than, say, Japanese and English, but that’s missing the point. It’s not a language issue; it’s an equality issue. And something is clearly awry.
One has to wonder how much of the disparity stems from the fact that Asian players, particularly Japanese players, are usually established stars in their home countries before they make the jump to the majors, and thus are better catered to, whereas Latino players tend to be younger, less heralded and often come from poorer backgrounds.
Whatever the causes, Guillen’s message was loud and clear. No interpretation necessary.
[Updated at 9:20 a.m.:
Bill Kline, The Morning Call
Consciously or not, pro baseball is unfair to Latinos. Japanese players, for example, are treated better because they are older and more accomplished when they arrive in America and go directly to the perk-packed majors or high minor leagues.
In contrast, most Latinos start in the low minors, facing language and cultural barriers. And there’s the rub. Professional baseball in effect preys on young Latinos, signing them to inexpensive minor league contracts at tender ages of 16-18. Many of these teenagers are thrown into unforgiving U.S. waters and must learn to swim in a hurry. Without a lifejacket. And, as Ozzie Guillen says, without a lifeguard.
Some Latinos climb onto the luxury liner known as Major League Baseball. But many others sink. Guillen believes Latinos would have a better chance if they had more support. He is right. Throw a lifeline to these kids.]
Photo: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen argues a call on July 24. Credit: Dino Vournas / Associated Press