Singer's last song? Baseball
again tainted by racism
On the DL
Why does baseball have a hard time attracting
new fans? Here's one reason why: many non-fans might consider the
Last Tuesday night in Arizona, amidst baseball's
annual winter meetings, Bill Singer, the newly appointed special
assistant for the New York Mets, met with Los Angeles Dodgers assistant
general manager Kim Ng in a hotel bar. While he may have intended
to talk shop with Ng (who became the second female assistant GM
in the majors when the Yankees hired her in 1997), Singer instead
questioned her about her ethnic background and began to talk in
gibberish, poking fun at the Chinese language.
The incident came to light last week when Brian
Cashman, the Yankees' GM and Ng's former boss, stepped in and made
the incident public. The Mets have apologized profusely to her while
Met's GM Jim Duquette contemplates firing someone that was hired
only two weeks ago. Singer -a 14-year veteran who twice won 20 games-
should have known better.
All this came shortly before accusations that
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig dumped nearly $13 million of his
own money into the Brewers' payroll over the last five to six years.
Conflict of interest, anyone?
Selig's purported misdeeds aside, Major League
Baseball is once again left to deal with racism in its ranks. This
is not the first time the spectre of racism has reared its ugly
head in recent years. Fans will remember Marge Schott, the former
owner of the Cincinnati Reds, who often referred negatively to her
African-American players -going so far as to call outfielder Eric
Davis "one of her high-priced niggers." Then, of course,
there is the well-known case of former Atlanta closer John Rocker.
After making disparaging comments to a reporter about how he hated
New York and its inhabitants, Rocker was surprised to find the fans
in the Big Apple upset with him. He also called then-teammate Randall
Simon a "fat monkey." With those and other incidents still
fresh in the minds of fans and non-fans alike, Singer's comments
don't seem like anything new for baseball. The only difference is,
his comments target Asians instead of African-Americans. It's a
shame that Singer, as a representative of the Mets, would make such
a comment. Not only will it impair his ability to deal with upcoming
Asian prospects -Singer's job description includes "talent
evaluator"- but New York's large Asian population probably
doesn't appreciate the jab, either.
Moreover, as the ranks of Asian players in the
major leagues grows steadily, it's likely there will be pressure
on the Mets from other organizations to can Singer. He will likely
be held accountable to Asian players in his own organization, too.
I love baseball. I follow it year-round; the off-season
can be just as exciting as the regular season for me, where teams
compete for free agents and unfulfilled playoff hopes from years
past fade away with the acquisition of a rising star. I get so excited
about the game that I sometimes wonder how someone can dislike it.
It's times like this that I stop wondering.