Baseball’s historic underbelly of racism and prejudice reared its ugly head in the Bronx on Saturday. That New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson would mock shortstop Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox only personifies the stench beneath the surface of America’s national pastime.
Anderson was offended that Donaldson would refer to him as “Jackie” on the base path which is disrespectful to any Black baseball player in 2022. When he doubled down by claiming that he was referring to the White Sox shortstop’s reference to himself in a 2019 Sports Illustrated story, it was an arrogant condescension to a time that Major League Baseball has been trying to live down for the last 75 years. Donaldson also admitted on the record that he’s used it in the past when referring to Anderson and didn’t know what changed.
In true Jackie Robinson fashion, Anderson got his retribution using his immense talents. It was part of a five-run explosion in the 8th inning enroute to a 5-0 White Sox win over the New York Yankees and new team comedian Josh Donaldson.
With a 2–0 lead in the top of the eighth, Anderson stepped to the dish with Andrew Vaughn and Reese McGuire on base. TA smoked a Jonathan Loáisiga slider over the rightfield wall and had a message for Yankee Stadium.
While rounding the bases, Anderson put his finger to his lips and shushed the booing crowd. It was also a shoutout to the big guy upstairs who made all of this possible for Black and brown and Latin players — Jackie Roosevelt Robinson. The big hit is all the more special for the White Sox and Anderson, who have been at the center of controversy with the Yankees this past week.
Obviously, Donaldson hasn’t seen the George Floyd video. He just left a franchise that plays in a state that just won a World Series but treats an HBCU female lacrosse team like criminals during a traffic stop while suppressing its voters.
In the context of trash talk on a diamond during the politically correct counterculture society of today, Donaldson now finds himself at the top of the lineup of the game’s new form of racism. Donaldson may not have recognized how his statement exemplified white privilege that still exists in baseball during a postgame interview on YES Network where players like Anderson are often left feeling isolated as the only Black American in a professional workspace.
It was both shocking and enlightening. Perhaps it was the smirk on his face when he says he’s not a racist but was only making a joke while in the sanctity of the Yankees clubhouse. That act may have worked in Atlanta, it won’t play well in New York.
Anderson had previously said he feels he is still facing some of the same cultural biases facing Black American baseball players that Robinson faced when he broke the color barrier in 1947. You have to wonder how his teammates Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton feel about Donaldson’s in-game sense of humor, trash talk, or euphemism their new teammate freely spits like shells from sunflower seeds.
Donaldson is either socially tone death or culturally insensitive by using Robinson’s legacy as trash talk during a game and trying to brush it off on TV afterwards with a surfer dude grin. When a player with Donaldson’s game is so cavalier about using this type of reckless reference and there are no consequences, MLB’s true commitment to diversity will take another beanball to its reputation.
This is not a good look for the game. It was an unnecessary storyline during the national TV broadcast for a league that is still struggling to fill seats in the pandemic era. It should’ve been just about the Yankees meeting the White Sox with the best record in baseball. Suddenly, Anderson’s field of dreams walk off when the teams met last July, was a lost memory also.