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MLBOpinion

Boston Red Sox Disrespect Black Baseball Again

Trading Mookie Betts and David Price could have negative cultural implications for a city with a history of poor race relations.

Once again, MLB’s progress and dogged diversity efforts have been impeded by greedy owners and disrespect of elite MLB Black Knights. When’s the last time you heard of two superstars of that level getting shipped out of a winning situation for the cost of a value meal?

Now that the Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers deal is actually done, it’s time to say what’s really on our minds.

The Red Sox, the last team to integrate in MLB history — 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier — still can’t get it right when it comes to building a trusting relationship with African-American baseball fans. 

Baseball guru Jeff Passan can sell America on the financial aspects of the deal all he wants. 

“Dealing Mookie Betts and David Price were really financial considerations for the Red Sox,” Passan said on ESPN this morning. “They wanted to dip beneath the $208 million luxury tax threshold…Reset their numbers there.

Apparently, the 27-year-old Betts, a former MVP who is entering free agency at the end of the season and Price who signed a seven-year, $217 million contract in 2015 didn’t fit into the Red Sox’s financial plan moving forward. 

“This was not a day that the Boston Red Sox wanted to happen,” Passan continued.”They understood that Betts was entering free agency and if he left they wouldn’t get anything for him.”

Trading two of the three Black players on the team, who also happen to be two of the stars that led you to a World Series is a bad look for a city all too familiar with racism. A city that has always struggled to hide its warts and embrace its Black superstars from Jim Rice to Price. 

History of Poor Race Relations

No need to review Boston’s racial history in sports. From passing on signing Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays to outfielder and coach Tommy Harper’s 1986 Elks Club anti-discrimination lawsuit to Black Ace Price reportedly hearing racial taunts while warming up in the bullpen at Fenway in 2017 and culminating in May with the Adam Jones incident in Fenway Park in which the African-American outfielder had peanuts thrown at him and was taunted with the N-word. 

These things didn’t happen that long ago and if Boston was that devoted to rewriting its miserable record on race relations, they certainly wouldn’t have discarded two of the most recognizable African-American faces in the game for an outfielder and a pitching prospect.  It’s not like the franchise is starving for money. 

It’s the part of sports that fans have a hard time embracing, but Red Sox ownership has also shown a severe lack of appreciation, consideration, and understanding of the culture of baseball.  Just go back to the recent tug of war between Cora, Black, and Hispanic players and ownership and the white players over visiting the White House.

At this point, Red Sox ownership owes its Black players and fans a back check of respect. 

I thought they were on the right path, but this move, while considered financially shrewd in the long run, totally weakens the club’s relationship with the African-American community. From the adults who have endured years of systemic and overt racism to the youth who play baseball. 

Back in 2018, Red Sox owner John Henry did something to help change the negative perceptions that people hold about the town’s culture and racial intolerance, by proposing to Boston’s Public Improvement Commission to return Yawkey Way to its original name, Jersey Street. The commission approved it. 

 Yawkey Way: Erasing The Past, Creating A New Future

Henry was supposedly tired of his town being synonymous with racism and oppression.

He said that he’s still haunted by the racist legacy of his legendary predecessor Tom Yawkey, and renaming Yawkey Way would be the first step in re-branding and modernizing the Jersey Street extension outside Fenway Park that was renamed to honor the former owner in 1977.

An owner, whose claim to fame was being the richest racist in baseball. A tainted member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Yawkey was in control during a 12-season stretch from 1947-58, in which the Red Sox watched every other team in Major League Baseball integrate, finally signing Pumpsie Green in 1959

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was also supportive of this change. So these guys seemed to understand the culture and how they want their franchise to be represented moving forward.  

Two Steps Forward, Three Backwards

African-American HOFer Jim Rice, who played 16 seasons in Boston, is probably the second greatest Red Sox player in history behind Ted Williams. Betts was their star player and a perennial African-American MLB MVP candidate in the prime of his career. Price just went 16-7 two seasons ago and came up huge in the World Series. 

They also hired (then fired) a Puerto Rican manager in Alex Cora. And Black center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is one of the most exciting defensive players in the game and a World Series hero. 

There was plenty of reason for Black and Hispanic fans to start trusting Boston and immersing themselves into a baseball culture that finally acknowledges their greatness and contributions to the game. 

Then in one move defined as “Big Business” just doing what it does (us poor fans and folks wouldn’t understand) the heart and soul of the Red Sox were gutted. 

On the other hand, the Dodgers won 106 games last season, have one of the two African-American managers in baseball and just added a Top 3 player in the game and proven a veteran arm to the mix. 

One or two guys don’t make a baseball team, but the Red Sox turned its back on its fans, especially the Black ones.

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