It’s about time.
When Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones spoke up on Monday about being the target of racial slurs — and being in the path of an airborne peanut bag — he shined a light on abuse that has taken place in more ballparks than you think.
Anyone who argues otherwise needs to be enlightened.
“I played in Boston, but Wrigley was worse,” said LaTroy Hawkins of the home of the Chicago Cubs. “Even after the games, crazy stuff.”
Let’s not think this was an isolated incident in which one person crossed the line. I’ve covered several players who have had racial slurs thrown at them in Boston and other major league ballparks. I have friends who once sat in Fenway Park and heard the N-word used, to their disbelief.
Both Hawkins and Torii Hunter played for the Twins and currently are special assistants to the baseball operations department. Jones’ story sounded familiar to them.
“Hate that this is still happening to guys today,” Hunter wrote in a text message.
To be clear, Boston is one of my favorite cities. The story that Jones shared is troubling, but it doesn’t reflect the majority of baseball fans there.
Still, Boston is going to have to wear this. While supporting Jones, Yankees lefthander CC Sabathia said, “I’ve never been called the N-word anywhere but Boston.” There’s a problem there.
So Red Sox ownership should be lauded for condemning the behavior. Jones was greeted with a standing ovation during his first at-bat Tuesday. A fan who yelled a racial slur that night was ejected and banned from the park for life.
“I’m here to send a message, loud and clear, that the behavior, the language, the treatment of others that you’ve heard about and read about is not acceptable,” Red Sox President Sam Kennedy said.
Bravo. Not only should teams forbid such behavior, fans should feel they can make a difference by alerting stadium personnel about fans who are spewing such language.
MLB President Rob Manfred addressed the issue on Friday during a news conference at Target Field.
“The Red Sox took the lead in terms of the investigation of the incident,” he said. “[At] the league level what we’re doing is surveying the clubs about their current practices in this area both in terms of security, enforcement, discipline of offenders in the stadium, as a prelude to giving consideration to some more industrywide guidelines in this area.”
Bravo again. That leaves one unanswered question.
What took so long?
“It’s a knee-jerk reaction,” Hawkins said. “It has been going on a long time. You want to put your foot down now? Shame on them. Shouldn’t have been tolerated when Jackie Robinson played.”
But now MLB is motivated to address the issue. Let’s hope it follows through.
Indians: Everyone focuses on what Andrew Miller brings to the Indians bullpen. But it was closer Cody Allen who was named the AL’s best reliever for the month of April. Allen was 6-for-6 in save situations. And he struck out 20 of the 40 batters he faced. That’s dominance.
Royals: Kansas City must be kicking itself for re-signing Alex Gordon (right) to a four-year, $72 million contract after he helped the Royals win the World Series in 2015. He’s batting barely above .200 since signing the deal and has hit no home runs this season.
Tigers: JaCoby Jones has not appeared in a game since being hit in the mouth by a Justin Haley fastball on April 22 but is getting close. Jones is at Class AAA Toledo on a rehabilitation assignment but could join the team early next week. He’s the Tigers’ best defensive outfielder.
White Sox: One reason Chicago has been a surprise team this season has been a bullpen that has locked down the late innings. But the Sox will be challenged to absorb the loss of key setup man Nate Jones, who has landed on the disabled list with ulnar neuritis in his elbow.
The 3-2 pitch
Three observations …
• Several teams are already in need of starting pitching help (San Francisco, Arizona, Boston, etc.), but will the Twins put Ervin Santana on the market if they remain over .500?
• There can’t be a team more happy to have a player back healthy than Arizona over A.J. Pollock. He’s a talented outfielder who has a 7.0 WAR impact on a roster.
• You remove Eric Thames’ 11 home runs and the Brewers would still be in the top 10 in baseball in long balls. This team is getting its mash on.
… and two predictions
• White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia is living large. He’s batting .446 on balls put in play, which means he will crash back down to earth.
• Want to talk about preposterous statements? Remember when I said Kyle Gibson and Alex Meyer were the future of the Twins rotation? Even if Gibson returns from the minors and pitches well, that was a big swing and miss.