Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One wonders how many Mets fans can actually spell "xenophobia"

Newsflash: Mets fans think Omar Minaya's signing too many brown people Latin Americans

Why, just last week I attended a reception where one man, knowing I'd written a book about the Mets, approached me and said, "I still love the team, and Livan Hernandez wouldn't hurt. But how about adding an American or two?"

I mean, really? How about adding an American or two? It's official: I can't say things in sports rarely surprise me anymore, because I find myself being surprised an awful lot these days. And this, in so many ways, takes the cake.

How about adding an American or two?

I won't both pointing out the 12,000 incorrect assumptions being made by the Mets fans Pearlman cites. What's the point? There is no logical rationale for this kind of belief, so to argue with it is kind of like arguing with someone about their favorite color. And, frankly, I think we're all a little naive to think that there aren't more baseball fans who feel this way about black and hispanic players, fans who hearken back to the days when the game's best players were predominantly mustachioed white dudes with mullets and "blue collar" values. They feel a disconnect with today's non-white superstars, who appear more aloof and self-centered and lazy and cornrowed. And David Eckstein isn't lazy, they say to themselves; people need to write about Eckstein more, not overrated guys like Hanley Ramirez, over whom national columnists can't stop fawning.

According to Pearlman, the non-tendering of Paul LoDuca, a PED-fueled and philandering clubhouse cancer has served as the proverbial "last straw" for a lot of these bigots fans. One would think that a rabid fan base hungry to upstage the Yankees would embrace the casting off of an overpaid, underperforming asshole, but the fact that he's white and a loudmouth apparently means "character" to fans, and implicit in that is that LoDuca's non-white replacement is incapable of being a fiery leader.

Ever since Minaya got the Mets' GM job, there's been a lot made of his being hispanic. In a vacuum, there's nothing wrong with both acknowledging the novelty of seeing a non-white face in upper-level baseball administration, particularly since Minaya was (I believe) the first hispanic GM in the sport's history. When Carlos Delgado was a free agent a few years back, a lot was made of Minaya's effort to use his ethnicity — and, to a degree, the ethnic composition of the Mets' locker room — to draw Delgado to the team. If I remember correctly, Delgado bristled at Minaya's efforts and decided to sign with the Marlins, which resulted in a little bit of blowback for Minaya. But I never understood why people were upset by Minaya's gambit. Why wouldn't you try and use every available resource to land someone you desperately want? And who's really offended by the fact that Minaya might want to use the fact that he speaks spanish as a hopeful mark in the Mets' favor? Does some shine come off a contract that isn't negotiated exclusively in english?

But it's starting to make sense, now. Apparently, it's not racist if you're talking about hispanics, and it's not racist if you can couch it in positive terms ("We just want to see more Americans!") instead of negative ones ("Stop signing the brown people!").

I realize there's a danger implicit in drawing general conclusions from individual situations, but I can't help but think that Mets fans are the only ones who feel this way about the globalization of America's past time.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Diesel,

In a way, I'm going to disagree with you, in part to try and get this blog rolling again. I've been reading it too long to let Pepe's little bitchfest from a week or two ago keep me from reading/responding (unless of course he deletes my comments, which he's been prone to do in the past).

So it is with all due respect that your post is too easy. I neither know about nor care about the Mets and/or baseball in general, but what I’m fascinated by is that you've essentially picked out yet another example of white racism and claimed, "Hey, that's not cool." Before Pepe freaks out and lectures me on the history of civil rights, let me be clear that I, too, don't think it's cool. My interracial marriage, travels around the world, and struggle to learn Spanish all stand as testament to that.

But what I find much more interesting is the fact that racism has become a fetishistic cause amongst educated whites that isn’t consistently applied to other aspects of our culture. For example, while it's not okay to judge someone on the basis of their skin color, it is okay to judge them on the basis of their religious beliefs, especially if they're Christian. It's also acceptable to make violently sexist remarks about women ("I'd hit that."). And while I don't think anybody here goes home and beats on their woman, there have nevertheless been a number of examples of sexist comments in this blog that simply wouldn't be tolerated if they were made about race. Why the fuck is that okay? And while I'm add it, how about the blatantly homophobic rhetoric that we all (myself included) spew forth?

So here's the question, and it's one that is inherently more interesting and complex than finding the latest racist remark by some white person, which has frankly been done to death: why are we so sensitive about racism but not sexism, homophobia, etc.? What, if anything, does it say about us and the society we live in?

D. Suave

Diesel said...

D,

You're quite right to point out that this particular post isn't one of my best efforts. To be honest, I was thinking about shelving it, but I also don't like the idea of the blog sitting fallow for weeks at a time. So, I acknowledge my mediocrity.

As for your larger question: It's because we're supposed to be past this (blatant racism, that is). Sexism doesn't come up anywhere close to as often in the male-dominated sports I watch, and I don't think anyone actually believes that homophobia has been eradicated from the sports world. So, it comes down to expectations, at least for this particular fetishist. And the fact that many of the people I know and respect think race isn't an issue in sports anymore brings things like the Mets stuff into clearer relief, as far as I'm concerned.

That's probably not the quality of answer you're looking for, but holidays and blogging don't mix.

Diesel

Pepe said...

Well, Suave, part of it is that you're wrong. I don't make racist, homophobic, or sexist remarks in earnest on this blog. In fact, I don't recall either of us making any such comments, outside of jokes that should have been rather obvious to anyone who knew us or had a sense of humor. If you're going to say our blog is sexist, you should provide some evidence. Right now you're just casting aspersions in a vacuum.

Also, the Christian discrimination angle is tired and trite. Christians with martyr complexes are constantly claiming discrimination anytime somebody dares to publicly acknowledge other religious beliefs, when their belief system and actions reveal them as among the most judgmental and exclusionary groups extant.

This comment exemplifies why I don't allow comments on my posts, and why I'm not posting much or at all anymore. If you want a place to post snide, facile, and unsupported criticism, start your own blog, and get the fuck off ours. Believe it or not -- and I'm speaking for me here, not Doyle -- it wasn't created to give you a soapbox.

Anonymous said...

so i should both back up my response and stop posting to your blog? Hmmm...I frankly don't understand why you've become so angry and defensive about this blog, but whatever. You've got the right. I know I've gotten emotional about certain things in the past that other people don't understand.

That said, your anger is overwhelming to the point that I'm calling it a day, so to speak. Sorry if I've contributed to a bad vibe around here (I think that sounds sarcastic, but I don't mean it to). Best of luck to everyone.

D. Suave

Pepe said...

It's not that I don't want you to comment anymore. Rather, I don't want these comments to be a forum for unsupported and/or unwarranted criticism of this blog or its authors, by you or anybody.

It's nothing personal against you. But when a comment on a blog I used to spend a lot of time writing accuses us of frequent sexism, especially with no obvious basis, I'm going to get defensive. Just like I did in other recent situations involving similar comments.

There is a bad vibe here. You didn't create it, nor did anyone else, single-handedly, but it very obviously exists. That's why I've stopped posting and have no intention of continuing. It's become a place for reflexive antagonism, blame-placing, and name-calling, rather than whatever it originally was intended to be. It must be pretty obvious that I can't read it anymore without getting really pissed off.

The unavoidable fact this blog has exposed to me is that the internet is the wrong place for discussions like this between people who know and like each other. I've had long talks with you before about sexism and racism and homophobia and academia and masculinity, and would gladly do so again. But not here.

I guess that's what I should have said in the first place.

b said...

I, for one, enjoy this blog a ton and one of the reasons I was excited to post was that it's a good place for discussion and readers. However, the bad vibe can probably be attributed to our comments appearing in writing, when we all know we've said the same things to each other equal or much worse, but the sarcastic vibe doesn't translate.

I am bored shitless at work this week and will probably work on another. Workers redoing the work during work hours will challenge me to accomplish that, though.