Tales Of The Great Stupid, Baseball Division: Incredibly, The Josh Donaldson /Tim Anderson/”Jackie” Fiasco Gets Worse


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...

23 thoughts on “Tales Of The Great Stupid, Baseball Division: Incredibly, The Josh Donaldson /Tim Anderson/”Jackie” Fiasco Gets Worse

  1. Perhaps someone should send this evaluation of the incident to MLB or post it on some widely read baseball forum. Nothing will educate members of the “great stupid” if they are not shown the correct and ethical way to respond.

  2. Every great play has a prelude before Act I.

    • The responses are telling. Most were excoriating Passan for being easily offended. If the word that gets blacks offended has a particular meaning then even its use against a white person is still derogatory to blacks. The idea certain words uttered by one group is culturally ok but not another is the height of racism.

  3. Couldn’t figure out what the hell Jacques Brel had to do with this. Took me about two measures of trumpet to get it. Well played.
    I did a lighting design for that show once. It was a fundraiser for… something. Early ’80s, so my inability to remember all the details is perhaps forgivable.

    • I should note, however, that Anderson is not “cute, cute, cute.” Rather, the phrase “stupid ass” should be nominative rather than adjectival.

    • I saw that show’s touring cast four times. A lesson: the performances got worse and worse because the singers kept escalating the intensity in ever number until the show had no variety or range. It was their reaction to boredom with the material, I think, and a good director should have flagged and fixed it.

      My most disastrous on-stage crash was singing “Mathilda” from that show at a dinner theater. I don’t think I want to talk about it…

  4. Has the day where everyone wears number 24 already passed? If not, maybe the suspension could be served on that day?

    I think the idea of banning all trash talking is a great idea. I get a real kick out of NBA players having little love fests at mid court upon the completion of a playoff series. The all hug each other and say good bye for the summer. They all know full well they’re all playing for the same team: themselves and their union and their agents, and they are the beneficiaries of one of the greatest money making things going. Pro sports contested among multi millionaires might as well be professional wrestling.

    Tony LaRussa and Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr would call their grandmother’s white supremacists if they thought doing so would further endear them to their players.

        • 24 and 42. Two of my all-time favorite numbers. I have the condition where I view even numbers as good and odd numbers as bad. Probably because odd numbers make addition and subtraction more difficult.

    • I first noticed the decline of sports competitiveness when I still watched the NFL. Even as late as the ’90s the Pro Bowl was still played to win, even if slightly more carefully to avoid any real injuries. Today it’s a joke, and I bet the games that count are not that far behind anymore.

  5. “Jackie” is nothing like “nigger”, or “slave”, or “non-human”, or any other truly derogatory word. Again, Anderson elevated himself to the unreachable-by-him status of Jackie Robinson, so Donaldson calling him that was nothing more than an attempt to bring him back down to reality, not an attempt to send him back in time to an 1850s-era South Carolina cotton field.

    And you’re completely correct: Donaldson’s ultimate goal was to preserve the image of a truly landscape-changing player rather than let it be watered down by a thin-skinned, self-absorbed hack.

    • I am still trying to figure out why Anderson thinks he is a modern day Jackie Robinson. Didn’t Robinson break the color barrier and suffer mightily for it but played on despite the vitriol. What, in the name of Mike, have I missed in MLB that would merit such a comparison? Kneeling? Standing? Home runs? Strike outs? Base on balls? Multimillion dollar salaries? Free agency? Endorsements? Increased per diems?


      • Maybe he’ll come out as a new letter in the LGBTQ+ alphabet soup, thus breaking the barrier for featherless unicornkin.

    • Pale Hose.

      Wait. Isn’t there some hay to be made of the name “Black Sox Scandal?” Isn’t that a racist insult? And what about The Homestead Grays? Don’t these outrageous, long-ago slurs warrant reckoning?

      • Of course, if they’re called “The South Siders,” that’s a verboten reference to the Confederacy. Maybe “Chicago Basell Team” will work, if you can get the Cubbies to go for that.

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