Josh Donaldson Suspended for Comment Made Toward Tim Anderson (UPDATE)

UPDATE: Josh Donaldson has been suspended one game by Major League Baseball for the on-field incident this weekend, which is discussed below in the original post.

Here’s the statement from MLB:

“MLB has completed the process of speaking to the individuals involved in this incident. There is no dispute over what was said on the field,” said Michael Hill, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president for on-field operations. “Regardless of Mr. Donaldson’s intent, the comment he directed toward Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and in poor judgment, particularly when viewed in the context of their prior interactions. In addition, Mr. Donaldson’s remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline.”

Original post follows.

* * *

There is long-standing beef between the White Sox and Josh Donaldson, previously with the Minnesota Twins and now with the New York Yankees, but today may have taken things to another level.

Early in today’s game, something was exchanged between Donaldson and White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson on the field:

Later, perhaps after being told what Donaldson said, White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal let Donaldson have it, and the benches cleared:

But what was originally said that set all this up? Well, according to Anderson and his manager, Tony La Russa, it was a racist comment from Donaldson. Specifically, Donaldson referred to Anderson as Jackie Robinson:

If that’s what was said, it is way over the line. It’s disrespectful toward Anderson, it’s disgusting to use Robinson’s name as if it’s an insult, and it’s overall just a terrible way to be. Donaldson’s manager, Aaron Boone, said he was going to get to the bottom of what was said, and you better believe he, the Yankees, and MLB will take action if it’s true.

UPDATE: Donaldson confirms that he said it, but is claiming that it used to be a joke between them:

Is that just something that YOU thought was a joke and that Anderson was OK with? Or was he never really OK with it and you just kept thinking it was OK? It sounds pretty awful in any case.

UPDATE 2: More context, though it doesn’t improve things:

That interview/quote was about Anderson wanting to change the way unwritten rules police player behavior in baseball, which has long carried with it some racial undercurrent. It may not have been explicitly what Anderson said, but it’s an attached portion of any discussion about “appropriate” behavior in baseball involving minority players, and certainly when Jackie Robinson is explicitly brought up. Donaldson trying to make a joke out of it still strikes me as unacceptable. Also, considering the existing beef between the players, it’s pretty hard for me to believe Donaldson just meant it as a friendly jab among pals.

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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