FanDuel - WFBC

March 11, 2010

Torii Hunter: Latino Players are Black 'Imposters': In a discussion about the number of black players in the Major Leagues, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said during a USA Today-hosted committee to improve baseball panel that black Latinos don't count. "People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American. They're not us. They're impostors. Even people I know come up and say: 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' ... As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?' ... I'm telling you, it's sad." American black players have lamented the decline of Jackie Robinson's sport among their race in favor of basketball, football and other sports. Major League Baseball has 8% black players and 28% foreign at present.

posted by rcade to baseball at 08:46 AM - 39 comments

Via BornIcon in the huddle.

posted by rcade at 08:47 AM on March 11

Whoa. When I skimmed the link BI posted, I thought it was just poor phrasing in trying to suggest darker skinned Latino players disguise the drop in African American MLB players. But the rest of that is indefensible. While I am concerned in the drop in African American players in the abstract, has anyone bothered to look at participation rates at the high school/ college level and adjust for the increase in availability of international players? It seems like this could simply be a natural change resulting from the popularity of football and basketball.

posted by yerfatma at 09:03 AM on March 11

Does Torii Hunter recognize how much his comments sound like a resentful white ballplayer talking about blacks coming in to "his" league in the late '40s? Major Leaguers from places like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela aren't selling themselves at a discount. They can count the number of zeros in a check as well as Americans.

posted by rcade at 09:19 AM on March 11

'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?'

Because if I had one question I could ask Torii Hunter, this would be it.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 09:29 AM on March 11

Because if I had one question I could ask Torii Hunter, this would be it.

Exactly. Nice work, Toriiiiii.

posted by smithnyiu at 10:14 AM on March 11

People see light faces out there, and the perception is that they're white. They're not us. They're impostors. Even people I know come up and say: 'Hey, what color is Manu Ginobili? Is he a white player?' I say, 'Come on, he's South American. He's not white.'

Imagine if Steve Nash had said that...

posted by grum@work at 10:35 AM on March 11

Good way to alienate and anger a significant chunk of your local fanbase too. I imagine the Angels' PR staff are shitting their collective Dockers.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:17 AM on March 11

**Cueing THX in 3...2...1...**

posted by tahoemoj at 11:41 AM on March 11

Couple this with Lamar Odom calling Matt Barnes a "monkey" over the weekend, and it's been a banner week for racial double-standards...

posted by MeatSaber at 02:11 PM on March 11

1) If they are from North or South America, they are American.

2) If they are of African descent and living in an area that is called 'America,' it is accurate to call them "African-Americans."

Torii Hunter is incorrect. These players are logically African-Americans.

---

Now, on the other hand, he could make the argument that hiring a foreign born person of African descent is not the same as hiring an United States of America-born baseball player of African descent.

Which means his rant would basically be a "darn foreigners takin' our jobs" anti-immigrant sort of rant.

Or he could just be this year's John Rocker.

posted by Joey Michaels at 02:48 PM on March 11

I can't help but notice the extreme difference between the latitude given to black people expressing their thoughts regarding racial issues and white people doing the same. The double standard is getting pretty tiring.

There will never be a White Entertainment Awards show, or a NAAWP, or a United White College Fund etc. So when I hear crap like this I can only be hopeful that soon the world will recognize racism in all forms by all people equally and stop the madness. Someday a baseball player will be judged by the strength of his ability and not the color of his skin. Does Tori think we should send those black impostors back to the South America where they came from?

Note to Tori - free agency allows players of any color to sign a contract that is negotiated between them and their employers, even if you feel they play too cheap or are not the right color. Also there are white people in South America and other places that might surprise you, just as there are black people in South America, the Caribbean, North America, Europe, and Africa. Stick to baseball because it appears thinking is not your strong suit. Thanks for providing evidence that stupid comes in all colors.

posted by Atheist at 03:32 PM on March 11

Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?

Is he saying that Boras will not represent Dominicans or will not represent non-U.S. players generally?

posted by graymatters at 03:49 PM on March 11

Torii Hunter has always had the rep of being a great guy, and maybe he is, but he also has an edge to him. Maybe its his great personality, but people have ignored that part of his makeup. So this doesn't surprise me.

There will never be a White Entertainment Awards show, or a NAAWP, or a United White College Fund etc.

I know, right? Were you at the Oscars picketing all the white directors that had been overlooked?

I remember that line of argument in a freshman debate class. It didn't go well. It's so full of holes, so embarrassing lacking in any common sense, I can't believe you're not stating it ironically.

posted by justgary at 03:53 PM on March 11

'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?'

It just seems to me that Hunter is completely unclear on the concept of major league baseball and the free market. If David Ortiz (purely by way of example) is playing DH for a certain team, Hunter seems to think that (a) there is an African-American player of similar skills; and (b) that player wanted more money than Ortiz. So there's vast reserves of untapped inner-city talent just sitting there wasted because they want too much money? Hmmm.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:55 PM on March 11

There will never be a White Entertainment Awards show, or a NAAWP, or a United White College Fund etc.

They used to exist.

They were called "The Academy Awards", government-sponsored segregation, and corporate-sponsored scholarships.

It's the reason why BET Awards, NAACP and UNCF were created in the first place.

posted by grum@work at 04:08 PM on March 11

I can't help but notice the extreme difference between the latitude given to black people expressing their thoughts regarding racial issues and white people doing the same.

You must be a heck of a noticer if you're seeing it in this thread.

posted by yerfatma at 04:37 PM on March 11

I think what I am noticing is that if a white player had said the same thing in USA Today. It would be all over every news outlet and he would be getting a ration of shit. Other than this forum I not sure Tori Hunter will catch any crap for it.

I think Tahoemoj said it great. There must be a million guys who could play in the major leagues right here but won't accept the piddley million dollar contracts those Latino's are willing to play for.

Does anybody who watched the Acadamy Awards really think the we still need special awards for people based on race?

posted by Atheist at 05:26 PM on March 11

It would be all over every news outlet and he would be getting a ration of shit.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Boston Herald, USA Today, FOXNews, Huffington Post, msnbc.com, MLB.com, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Yahoo! Sports, Toronto Star, OCRegister, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Deadspin...

Safe to say it's being covered on EVERY news outlet.

posted by justgary at 05:35 PM on March 11

No, Hunter's point is that the US based agents, like Boras, have made ML teams look to other ports for talent so they don't have to deal with negotiating with hardened sports agents, but rather bass-akwards Dominican families with 16 year old (or so they say) talented kids.

That might be true. If the talent is available somewhere else at a cheaper rate, most businesses would go that way. That might not be true though - I don't know which agencies are repping young Latinos.

I think what I am noticing is that if a white player had said the same thing in USA Today. It would be all over every news outlet and he would be getting a ration of shit. Other than this forum I not sure Tori Hunter will catch any crap for it.

Ok, but who's promised that this will be fair? I hate the idea that people see minorities as some kind of privileged class because they have their own awards shows and aren't as taken to task for comments like these. It's tough being from the dominant class, I tell ya.

That and it's not like this is underreported - as gary as shown.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:45 PM on March 11

I not sure Tori Hunter will catch any crap for it

Except for the next time he plays against the ChiSox. Ozzie sounds pissed.

posted by smithnyiu at 05:58 PM on March 11

I hate the idea that people see minorities as some kind of privileged class because they ...aren't as taken to task for comments like these

Other races want equality when it comes to all the privileges they are missing out on. But true equality needs to work both ways. If you want the good stuff on equal footing, you have to also take the crap when you mess up, and not suddenly hide behind your race...

posted by MeatSaber at 07:13 PM on March 11

If they are of African descent and living in an area that is called 'America,' it is accurate to call them "African-Americans."
In one sense, sure. But the culture and experience of growing up as a black person in, say, the West Indies islands and in the United States is pretty radically different. There's not a lot of common culture there (which is why that KFC ad in Aussie was a non-event for West Indians, no matter how many Yanks screamed is was racist).

posted by rodgerd at 03:29 AM on March 12

Other races want equality when it comes to all the privileges they are missing out on. But true equality needs to work both ways. If you want the good stuff on equal footing

Sure, and I think they'll be happy to oblige, once the first sentence happens. No one's holding their breath just yet.

posted by yerfatma at 07:10 AM on March 12

If they are of African descent and living in an area that is called 'America,' it is accurate to call them "African-Americans."

We park on a driveway and drive on a parkway. Words don't always mean what we think they should mean.

posted by rcade at 07:52 AM on March 12

No, Hunter's point is that the US based agents, like Boras, have made ML teams look to other ports for talent so they don't have to deal with negotiating with hardened sports agents, but rather bass-akwards Dominican families with 16 year old (or so they say) talented kids. That might be true. If the talent is available somewhere else at a cheaper rate, most businesses would go that way.

Despite the obvious offensiveness of calling black Latino athletes "impostors," I'm not sure that Hunter's thesis that teams would rather get a cheap Latin player than deal with a hard-nosed American sports agent working on behalf of an African-American player holds water at all.

Let's look at this year's crop of prospects. The highest-rated African-American player, Jason Heyward, was drafted and signed with the Braves for a $1.7m bonus out of high school. The highest-rated white player, Stephen Strasburg, was drafted and signed with the Nationals (repped by Scott Boras) for a $7.5m bonus and a $15m contract out of San Diego State. The highest-rated black Latino player, Aroldis Chapman, was signed as a free agent by the Reds with a $16.25m signing bonus and a contract worth at least $30m after defecting from Cuba.

Now, you could frame the argument as "the average black Latino signee gets less than the average African-American draftee," but I'm not sure that this is true, either, though I don't have the data to back it up. I seriously doubt Torii Hunter does, either.

At the very least, we know that Latino players are not subject to the draft system; thus, teams will have LESS leverage in negotiating with a Latino player that can sign with any other franchise than they would in negotiating with an African-American player that they have drafted and obtained exclusive rights to.

Once players are established in the major leagues and become free agents, they all have access to the same representation and thus it doesn't make sense to say that one ethnic group would have an advantage at that stage.

My point is this - not only are Hunter's comments about the "not-black-ness" of black Latino athletes incredibly uncalled for, his economic arguments also lack soundness.

posted by Venicemenace at 11:50 AM on March 12

teams would rather get a cheap Latin player than deal with a hard-nosed American sports agent working on behalf of an African-American player holds water at all.

The thesis depends on sports agents intentionally avoiding talented Latino players. Which would require them to have a loyalty other than money. So: F-.

posted by yerfatma at 12:40 PM on March 12

Safe to say it's being covered on EVERY news outlet.

Yes, it's being covered, but I also think Atheist is right in that it is not being represented with the tenacity it would be if it was a white player. Anyone remember John Rocker's racist comments and the associated media response? They had protests at the game, the talking heads at the news agencies were discussing it...heck, Twisted Sister asked him to stop using their song :-) I don't sense the same outrage as I remember back then.

posted by bdaddy at 02:44 PM on March 12

**Cueing THX in 3...2...1...**

Sorry. Busy week. *ahem*

Wow. Moron.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:49 PM on March 12

There must be a million guys who could play in the major leagues right here but won't accept the piddley million dollar contracts those Latino's are willing to play for.

And I seem to have overlooked this the first go 'round. If you are a U.S. born baseball player and you refuse to play in the bigs for a million bucks I have but one thing to say to you:

Wow. Moron.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:55 PM on March 12

I can go to sleep now.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:44 PM on March 12

And I seem to have overlooked this the first go 'round.

I did too. If there were million dollar contracts going unclaimed to baseball players, there would be lines longer than American Idol to get them. How can anyone believe that Major League teams would not prefer American-born athletes over foreign ones, all other things being equal?

posted by rcade at 04:01 PM on March 12

No. Given the questions around age documentation, work visas, etc. hiring foreign-born players comes with built-in assaches.

posted by yerfatma at 04:27 PM on March 12

Great guest post at Joe Posnanski's blog about this.

'Once the wall of separation began to crumble, black Latinos such as Orestes "Minnie" Minoso or Vic Power recount at times being ostracized by African American teammates for not being black (or "black enough"). Even the great Roberto Clemente dealt with that, and once stated to a sportswriter that he was a double n----- because he was black and because he was Puerto Rican (Latino).'

posted by yerfatma at 04:54 PM on March 12

Sleep well, 'moj.

posted by THX-1138 at 05:13 PM on March 12

THX, it's kind of creepy with you watching him like that. I mean, I'm right here.

posted by yerfatma at 06:38 PM on March 12

I know. Can you believe what he's wearing?

posted by THX-1138 at 07:48 PM on March 12

Anyone remember John Rocker's racist comments and the associated media response? They had protests at the game, the talking heads at the news agencies were discussing it...heck, Twisted Sister asked him to stop using their song :-) I don't sense the same outrage as I remember back then.
posted by bdaddy

Here's what Rocker actually said:

I'd retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing... The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?

Rasist, sexist, homophobic comments.

Hunter's comments were shortsighted and clueless. He should get shit over them, and has. But he was also discussing a problem thats been a topic for a while now.

Maybe you've forgotten what Rocker actually said, but Hunter's comments aren't in the same league, and comparing them to somehow show that a white guy would get more grief than a black guy is absurd.

posted by justgary at 12:40 AM on March 13

Racist, sexist, homophobic comments.

Don't forget xenophobic. Give Rocker credit for alienating pretty much everyone, not just those with different skin color. He was truly an artist.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:08 PM on March 13

Biz of Baseball took a look at the problem that Hunter was pointing to. While everyone has jumped on the latino side of the comments, it seems very few people are exploring the depths of the issue that he is exposing.

posted by Demophon at 12:23 PM on March 14

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