We’ve heard this meme before, and although I don’t want to believe it, I quite frankly don’t have enough experience at Wrigley Field to confirm or deny.
The Sun-Times put together a long, painful piece tying Milton Bradley’s volatility to the allegedly racial taunts of Wrigley Field.
Wrigley seems like the last place an African-American player with such a well-traveled reputation for confrontations would choose to sign a multiyear contract. In the last five seasons alone, Cubs outfielder Jacque Jones and pitcher LaTroy Hawkins said they were the targets of racist taunts and fan mail. Jones also said in 2006 that he became the victim of racial slurs and threats on his cell phone when the number got out.
Former Cubs manager Dusty Baker said that same season that he received enough threatening, racist mail in Chicago that his wife and young son no longer would attend games.
I remember hearing those things – all during the Dusty Baker era – and wondering why I’d never heard about the racist undertones before then. I am NOT saying it didn’t exist – I am simply saying I never heard about it.
Visiting ballplayers are even easier targets for the more vicious slurs.
”I’ve heard a few things [from the bleachers],” Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Mike Cameron said. ”But I don’t really get into it with them unless a situation calls for it. I try to stay out of those situations.”
Generally considered by players among the roughest crowds in baseball for their habit of booing players on the home team, crowds at Wrigley and Boston’s Fenway Park also are considered among the worst by African-American players for a racist element comprising at least vocal minorities.
Was the “at least vocal minorities” really necessary? Is there some suggestion there that the folks at the ballpark who shout racial slurs are somehow more than the minority? Although I make no comment on the rest of the piece, that part can surely elicit a big, fat “come on.”
Obviously I hope this garbage doesn’t really happen. Even aside from the reprehensible nature of racial slurs, in the context of baseball, they add nothing to the dialogue and serve no purpose. And if you hear some of this going on at the game, say something. Tell the person to shut the hell up. Don’t assume someone else will. I don’t want to be associated with anything like this, and neither do you.
Besides, Milton Bradley will likely offer so many other, legitimate reasons to be razzed. Not that I’m encouraging that either, of course…