>>> Casual Misanthropy
By staff writer JD Rebello
June 27, 2004

“People on steroids shall not cast stones.” (Leviticus 24:11, seriously, it's in there. Look it up, heathen.)

(By the way, if you're looking for some good laughs, umm better luck next week. The following is pure anger, and my attempt to pose a logical argument. I'll be back next week with the funny.)

I defended him. I defended him. He wasn't even a Red Sox, and I defended him. People said he was on steroids, I said he wasn't. People he said he wasn't a great ballplayer. I said he was. People called him arrogant and cocky. I said he just didn't like talking to the media. Neither did Ted Williams. Last Friday, the man I defended, the man I consider the best hitter of our time, officially turned me against him. Here's the article:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1824716

For those of you too lazy to read, or who don't understand how hyperlinks work, I'll give you the gist. Barry Bonds, the man with 676 home runs as of the date this was written, declared he would never play for the Red Sox because the city of Boston was “too racist.” When I read this, I felt a strange mix of confusion, anger, and sadness. I'm not even from Boston. I'm from Rhode Island, and I take offense to this. Well, I live here. How could baseball's top player lay down such an inane diss on a city he hardly knows? Even he admits his accusation is far-fetched, declaring that his opinion of the Olde Towne is based on hearsay and gossip from his pop:

“[My impression is based] only [on] what guys have said,” he told the paper, “but that's been going on ever since my dad [Bobby, who played 14 years in the majors] was playing baseball. I can't play like that. That's not for me, brother.”

Fuck that. If you've got a legitimate reason to hate a city, fine. But what has Boston ever done to offend you? At least John Rocker had an excuse to hate New York. If someone threw a battery at my head, I'd unload like the Fuhrer, too. Allow me to dispel a few untrue elements to this story.

First off, Boston is not as racist as people like to think. Trust me, I live here. Take a walk around. Other than Southie, you're not going down the street without seeing a black dude, ahem, African American Masculine Human Being. And before you go all Farrakhan on me, please let me point out that black people only consist of 11% of the population in the entire country, so sorry if Boston, a city with deep Irish and Italian roots, doesn't look like the Source Awards audience. And Boston is a diversity haven compared to towns like Minneapolis, Denver, and Seattle.

Second, it's true, the Red Sox have a tainted race history. But let me clear up a few things. The Red Sox, yes, were the last team to integrate, in 1959. And people love throwing that fact around as if the Red Sox organization spent the mid-20th century burning crosses over by Pesky's Pole. There are a few things you should also know. One, the second to last team to integrate was the Detroit Tigers, just one year earlier in 1958. So it's not like the Red Sox integrated 20 years after everyone else. Two, the Boston Braves integrated in 1950, four years before the Yankees, so please don't paint Boston as an entirely racist town just because the Red Sox organization was run by a bigot in those days. The fact that the Red Sox were the last team isn't even that big of a deal when you think about it: All of the teams at the time integrated within a twelve year period, so stop imagining a giant chasm between when the rest of baseball fielded blacks and when the Das Red Sox did.

Furthermore, don't hate the Red Sox for not being gung ho about signing black players. In the sixties, the Red Sox failed (refused?) to sign Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. Had they accomplished this, there would be no annoying “Curse of the Bambino” and Jon Lieber would be the Yankees' ace. At least that's how I look at it. So don't take it out on the Sox and their fans. It was a screw-up, and we've paid. It's been twenty Presidents since the last time the Sox have sipped World Series champagne, that's punishment enough, I think.

And while we're at it, black athletes need to lay off the race card when deciding against signing with Boston. There's a new ownership in Fenway, one-third of the starting lineup is comprised of non-white players, and black players have certainly grown on Boston fans. The town went into collective shock and agony when Lawyer Milloy was shipped to the Bills a week before last season. Pokey Reese is currently more popular than Nomar. White QB Tom Brady was booed during some games last season. Yes, Tom Brady. Two Super Bowls in three years Tom Brady. 32-19 as a starter Tom Brady. Drew Bledsoe drove fans crazy. Joe Thornton's in exile after his Level 1 choke job against the hated Canadiens in this year's playoffs.

Have there been bad moments? Of course. Jim Rice's treatment in the eighties. Fans occasionally are more sympathetic to white players than black players. I admit it. But to single Boston out is ludicrous. What about Atlanta, in the dirty racist South? What about Montreal, whose fans threw a banana at black Hurricanes' goalie Kevin Weekes? What about Dodgers' General Manager Al Campanis' comment in the 1980's that blacks don't have the “necessities” to coach on the professional level? What about the race riots and police treatment of blacks in the early nineties in LA? What about the black-white violence in Detroit? Last week, BET.COM released an article on the most segregated cities in America, naming Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Newark, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Milwaukee. Given this information, to consider Boston a hotbed of racial tension is absurd at best and insultingly ignorant at worst.

All that Bonds has proven in his self-imposed tenure as racial spokesman is how hopelessly ignorant he is. Bonds claims that all of the major baseball hitting records are moot because of the exclusion of blacks into Negro Leagues, but then he considers Hank Aaron (Home Run record holder) to be his “godfather.” And if all of the old records are moot, what are we to make of our current generation of record breakers amidst steroid allegations, namely Mr. Bonds? 755 doesn't mean much if you're on the juice, and is about as relevant as a whites-only league.

The point is, I'm tired of Boston sports being regarded as an ethnic demilitarized zone. When Bob Ryan said on a radio show a year ago that Jason Kidd's wife deserved a smack (Jason Kidd had been convicted of beating his wife in earlier incidents), then Nets' coach Byron Scott claimed Boston (and Ryan) were racist, and demanded Ryan be fired from the Globe. Hold on a second. A man beats his wife and only misses four games? But some journalist makes an ill-conceived comment regarding it, and HE should be fired? Ryan's comment was sexist, misogynistic, and insensitive (I thought it was hilarious), but even if you put on the Spike Lee paranoia glasses, nowhere could it be misconstrued as racist.

It gets worse. Larry Bird claimed a few weeks ago that there should be more white players in the NBA to appease the white audience. This ignited a firestorm. Why? It's true. Just the way blacks don't watch the NHL and its 99% white league. If you think I'm wrong, why does ESPN endlessly pimp Jarome Iginla as the future of hockey? To bring in the black audience, that's how.

Larry Bird knows a thing or six about race as well. In the eighties, Isiah Thomas claimed Larry Bird would be just another player if he wasn't white. Horseshit. Bird led the Celtics to three NBA championships, and changed the way the game was played, defining basketball for that era, like Wilt and Russell before him, and Jordan after him.

The racial tension in sports as in life, is not entirely the fault of the white man, as liberal assholes want you to believe. Race problems are issues for both sides. It's all right for black comedians to flat out insult whites, but if a white comic even mentions race in his routine, he'd be lynched. Racism is perpetuated by the fear and lack of knowledge of the other race, to which both whites AND blacks tend to subscribe. What Barry Bonds has done is allowed his fear and ignorance of the city of Boston, based only on archaic, obsolete stereotypes to define his ill-advised opinion. Does Bonds' decision to needlessly and wrongfully attack the city of Boston warrant me to despise him? Yes. Ignorance is bliss, but when you spout such ignorance to the media and have no way to back it up, that makes you an absolute idiot.

Boston is a great city, with an unfair perception. Maybe Bonds should take a trip out here, see the sights, meet the people, and experience that Boston and Bostonians are civil and open-minded to all peoples. And if that's not enough to convince him, and he still feels ill will toward the city, just tell him we've got a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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