Saturday, April 17, 2010

Orlando Hudson and the Race Card

It really irks me when people pull the race card unnecessarily. I'll be the first to admit when there is a racial injustice but damn, this pulling of the race card in a cavalier fashion has to stop.

This past Tuesday I read Jeff Passan's article on Yahoo named Hudson hints at racism for blacks in free agency how Orlando Hudson of the Minnesota Twins alludes to the reason why older black players such as Jermaine Dye and Gary Sheffield are without a contract this season. Here is what Hudson was quoted as saying in the article:

“You see guys like Jermaine Dye without a job,” Hudson told Yahoo Sports earlier this week, citing Dye’s 2009 statistics. “Can’t get a job. Pretty much sums it up right there, no? You’ve got some guys who miss a year who can come back and get five, six million dollars, and a guy like Jermaine Dye can’t get a job. A guy like Gary Sheffield, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can’t get a job. “We both know what it is. You’ll get it right. You’ll figure it out. I’m not gonna say it because then I’ll be in [trouble].”

What he doesn't mention that maybe Sheffield is at an age where he is no longer the dominant and productive player that he once was. Nor does he touch on the fact that though Dye hit 28 hrs and 81 RBI this past season, Dye did most of it during the first half of the season (he slugged .567 and hit 20 homeruns)while slumping badly both at bat and in the field during the second half (batting .179 and slugging .297 with 8 homeruns). Not to mention that Dye did receive offers from both the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs but since the offers were less than the $11.5 million he made last year, Dye was uninterested. No, the reason Hudson chose to highlight for both players being unsigned was their skin color. The article also highlights Kenny Lofton and Ray Durham as older black players who have been largely ignored by baseball despite still being productive in seasons past.

In the case of Jermaine Dye, I believe he should have learned from the mistakes his from former Oakland A's teammate Johnny Damon made during his contract negotiations with the Yankees. Damon priced his way out of New York with a ridiculous contract demand and had to settle for a lesser contract from the Detroit Tigers. Both Bobby Abreu (last season) and Adrian Beltre (this season) accepted less than market value to play for one year with the Angels and Red Sox respectively. Abreu parlayed his productive season in Anaheim into a multi-year contract as Beltre is probably hoping to do with Boston or another team.

Ownership has taken the stance that with the current state of economics (both in the game and the nation as a whole) they are willing to invest in younger players and sign veteran players at lower amounts than in previous years. Why would you pay a player 11.5 million per year in his late 30's when you can get one or two young players for half of that combined or sign a veteran willing to make less and have some added versatility in your lineups. The article shows that white players Garrett Atkins, Aubrey Huff and Xavier Nady had less productive seasons than Dye and were signed to contracts ranging from $3 to $5 million per year. What the article fails to emphasize is that these players are younger and fill a need on the teams that they signed with and not because of the color of their skin.

If racism was the case, how do you explain Mike Cameron signing for 2-years $15.5 million with the Red Sox at the age of 37 and LaTroy Hawkins signing for 2-years $7.5 million with the Brewers at the age of 37. It was because these players filled a need for the team that signed them within the price range both sides were willing to agree upon rather if the player was black, white, green or blue.

In the case of Jermaine Dye, I have nothing against trying to make as much money as you can (more times than not we'd leave our jobs for a different one if there was a substantial raise offered) but as it is in sports, the older you get, the less you make. I believe that it is all about production of the field rather than the color of someone's skin. What do you think.

For Further Reading
- Click Here for the Jeff Passan's article on Yahoo

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