There is no end to good reasons why I don't write about baseball. While I followed the game as a kid, I stopped about a decade ago. So, truth be told, I didn't even know that Dusty Baker was the manager of the Chicago Cubs, and I had only a vague recollection that he had managed the San Francisco Giants into last year's World Series. But even I couldn't miss the mini-hysteria over Baker's comments that black and Hispanic players deal with the heat better.
"It's easier for most Latin guys and it's easier for most minority people because most of us come from heat," Baker told reporters on July 5. "You don't find too many brothers in New Hampshire and Maine and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. ... We were brought over here for the heat, right?
Isn't that history? Weren't we brought over because we could take the heat?" He continued, "(Black's) skin color is more conducive to heat than it is for lighter skin people, right?"
The good news for Baker is that he's black. And, as if to prove his point, the social heat isn't too hot for him precisely because he is black.
My limited research reveals plenty of sports writers and other commentators condemning Baker for the "stupidity" or "ignorance" of his comments. But nobody seems to think this will cost him his career. In fact, the universal consensus is quite the opposite. Everybody seems to agree that if Baker were white, this would cost him his job, his reputation, his career. But since black is so often shorthand for "incapable of being racist," Baker's getting off with a slap on the wrist.
Consider sports sociologist Harry Edwards. He came to Baker's defense in USAToday declaring, "Dusty and I go back a long way, and Dusty by no means is enamored with ethnic or racial stereotypes." But, he explained matter-of-factly, "If a white manager made those statements, there's no question he would find himself in a group that includes Al Campanis and Jimmy `The Greek' Snyder."
Snyder, recall, made two terrible mistakes. In 1988, the CBS football commentator said that black athletes who descended from slaves had certain genetic advantages over whites -not all that different from Baker's take on history when you think about it.
Snyder's second mistake, obviously, was not going back a long way with Harry Edwards. Back then, Edwards lead the mob denouncing Snyder. He told The New York Times that Snyder was "obviously incompetent and abysmally ignorant" and "a disgrace to the network."
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