In Act One of this fiasco, covered here, narcissist African-American star White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson implied that Yankee third-baseman Josh Donaldson called him a racist slur—which turned out to be “Jackie,” a slur never before recognized as such. (My late mother used to call me “Jackie.” I can never forgive her… ) You see, Anderson had referred to himself as the current day Jackie Robinson in an interview a few years back, an example of hubris that would have gotten him eaten by a three-headed something if he was in a Greek myth, and Donaldson chose to rub it in when Anderson was tagged out at third. Deserved mockery is not racism, but Anderson’s manager, Tony LaRussa, claimed it was. Tony can read the room: today any criticism of a prominent black American is “racism.”
In Act Two of the farce, discussed here, Major League Baseball fined and suspended Donaldson for an “inappropriate” comment–it was spectacularly appropriate—thus setting a precedent that could require all players to address each other as “Good sir” in future on-field encounters. The move also further muddled any societal comprehension of what is “racist” today, since Anderson was called the first name of an iconic black baseball hero, and not a character from “Amos and Andy.” The current definition, apparently, is that a racist remark is whatever a black star says it is if a white player said it, and if MLB is afraid of having a racial controversy on its hands near the anniversary of Officer Chauvin “taking a knee” on George Floyd’s neck.
But the Lords of Baseball also only suspended Donaldson for a single game, signalling to all that they weren’t serious, just saving face for Anderson, the color of whose face entitles him, apparently, to special privileges. Pitchers get fined a single game when they nearly hit a batter’s head and the umpire isn’t sure whether the close pitch was intentional or not.
Now, you may well ask, how could Act Three possibly top the first two acts for ethics absurdity? But it did!
Donaldson apologized to…. Jackie Robinson’s family! “I would also like to apologize to Mrs. Rachel Robinson and the Jackie Robinson family for any distress this incident may have caused,” Donaldson said. “Jackie was a true American hero and I hold his name in the highest regard.”
Think about that a minute—Donaldson sure didn’t. The reason his use of “Jackie” tweaked Anderson is because Robinson was a great man and player who makes the preening Anderson look like Pumpsie Green by comparison. How was invoking his name in any way disrespectful to Jackie Robinson or his family? The one who was disrespectful to Jackie Robinson was Tim Anderson by suggesting in the interview that he was Robinson’s modern day equivalent.
The only way I can see that Davidson was disrespectful to Robinson is that he called a vastly inferior player “Jackie,” but this would mean that his apology to the Robinsons was another insult to Anderson: “I’m so sorry, Mrs. Robinson, that I used your great husband’s name in connection with that over-rated loud-mouth, Tim Anderson.”
That wasn’t Donaldson’s intent, of course. The statement of apology was drafted by his management company, meaning that it was a blatant grovel and nothing else. “Josh,” his agents told him, “Anderson has branded you as a racist, and MLB won’t contradict a black former Most Valuable Player in the Age of the Great Stupid no matter how ridiculous his accusation was, so you have to prove you’re not a racist quick, or it will cost you millions in endorsements, and us millions in our cut. So we’re written this apology to the Robinson family.”
“But I didn’t call Jackie Robinson “Tim,” I called Anderson “Jackie!”
“Just shut up. It doesn’t have to make sense. Worshiping at the Jackie Robinson shrine proves you’re not a racist. We’re thinking about having you make a statement about celebrating “Juneteenth” too.”
Yet Donaldson is still appealing his one game suspension, which means he’s going to argue that he did nothing wrong by calling Anderson “Jackie.” Which he didn’t. But he apologized in public anyway.
And The Great Stupid rolls on...