The racial rollercoaster in sports continues. If we thought that 2020 was a racial reckoning in this country, the past week of polarizing sports news lets us know that we still have a long way to go.
As we know, less than 8 percent of Black and Brown players comprise MLB rosters. Back in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s that number was around 20 percent.
Over the years, as basketball gained in popularity and travel ball began pricing Black folks out of the game and the metrics began to devalue the athleticism and overall cultural brilliance of the Black baseball player, pitchers who look, walk and talk like Mets starter Marcus Stroman became rarer.
Why fit in when you were born to stand out? pic.twitter.com/Cfx9vUOo0O
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) December 5, 2020
Stroman is unapologetically Black, from his Du-rag to the way he expresses himself on the mound and off the field with his clothing line, must-see social media lyrics and outspoken, demonstrative demeanor between the lines.
His cultural package comes with pride and understanding of a baseball world that often reflects his upbringing in the predominantly white town of Medford, Long Island.
Those two worlds, two cultures he had to exist in, is where he learned about the best and worst of people.
He’s fought and scraped his way to a place where he can strut his stuff and wear his head accessories any way he wants within MLB guidelines.
Stroman has been rocking the Du-rag for a while, so for Arizona Diamondbacks announcer Bob Brenly (a former player) to comment on Stro’s choice of fashion without any cultural understanding of why Stroman even wears it, was a major dope head move.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) June 3, 2021
The racial undertones were so strong that it created a media firestorm and provoked some indirect responses from Marcus Stroman himself in response to the cowardly attack on Black culture by Brenly.
Even if that wasn’t the former player’s intentions, that’s how it was perceived and at least Brenly apologized and hopefully he realizes that in order to keep his job as an objective announcer, he’s got to change with the game and support the players who help pay his checks.
Brenly has to protect the game and the players in the game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 2, 2021
If Brenly continues to recklessly clowns things about others that he may not understand, then he’s contributing to the systemic racism that 2020 supposedly shined a light on and started a country-wide process of eradicating.
Such nonsense opens the gate for racists and the like to pile on. It gives them energy and strength to spew their hate, outdated views and further divide the country.
MLB has to do better.
Brad Stevens Wins For Losing
The NBA hasn’t really continued the efforts it made in 2020 to promote diversity in the front offices and decision-making positions.
After all of the protests and the Black Lives Matter scenery and the strong words concerning the police killings of innocent people such as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and Jacob Blake, just to name a few, the latest transfer of power in the league further cements proof that not much is changing despite the NBA continuously patting itself on the back as being the most progressive, socially and racially-conscious league.
Brad Stevens failed to get the job done with the Celtics. Despite having two of the Top 10 young stars in the league and a team loaded with complementary veterans — with the exception of a fluke trip to the Conference Finals — we can all agree that the coach once touted as the most brilliant young mind in the game, has aged into mediocrity.
So maybe a change of scenery was needed for Stevens, but nobody thought that change would be a promotion to President of Basketball Operations.
Until… Danny Ainge was so humiliated and disgusted by former Celtics guard Kyrie Irving stomping on the Celtics logo at center court after the Brooklyn Nets made quick work of Boston in the first round of the NBA playoffs, that he resigned. LOL
Danny Ainge announced today that he is retiring from his role as President of Basketball Operations. Brad Stevens has been promoted to the team’s President of Basketball Operations.https://t.co/XfGfMVkMkq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 2, 2021
The fact that Stevens got a promotion after failing as a head coach and being unable to put the pieces together correctly to elevate his squad to championship caliber, ticked off some folks, including ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith who previously criticized the Brooklyn Nets for hiring Steve Nash — a white, former player with no experience — to coach what is possibly the greatest trio of talent assembled in the last half decade.
@stephenasmith: “The @NBA players should be ashamed of themselves” for not speaking out against the white privilege that’s rampant in the NBA as it pertains to head coaching and front office positions#DannyAinge#BradStevens #Celtics
Do you agree? https://t.co/w0i1YVxBan
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) June 3, 2021
The more things change, the more things stay the same. There are two different playing fields in this country and while many are fighting to even the opportunities for all people, there are some gatekeepers of the old regime who want to continue the cycle while claiming to support in helping to correct hundreds of years of systemic oppression.
Like Method Man said: “You’re clear like glass I can see right through.”