The Yankees Need to Suspend Josh Donaldson

The Yankees need to suspend Josh Donaldson. There is no other way to say it. What he said to Tim Anderson in the course of Saturday’s game is unacceptable, inappropriate, and racist. For that, he needs to lose playing time and game checks. I’m not sure exactly what the appropriate length of suspension or amount of fine should be, but there needs to be something.

Additionally, this needs to come from the Yankees. They cannot and should not let the league step in after the fact and do it for them. Randy, Bobby, and I were harsh on the Yankees on the podcast in the wake of their weak response to George Floyd’s murder and the surrounding protests and I think I can speak for them when I say I hope they’ve learned their lesson. However, given PR’s weak statement after yesterday’s game, along with Donaldson’s, it’s pretty clear that isn’t the case. Those two statements, justifications, whatever, demonstrate that, at least initially, neither the organization nor the player understand why what Donaldson said was unacceptable, inappropriate, and racist.

Regardless of what I think, what you think, Tim Anderson, the person at whom the comment was leveled, thought it was racist. That alone should be all the ‘proof’ one needs to know that what Donaldson said was, in fact, racist. A reminder to my fellow white people: We do not get to be the arbiters of what is or isn’t racist. We do not get to tell Black people why they are wrong about what they find racist. If you find yourself doing this, stop.

I worry that, in the coming days, Donaldson’s Black teammates and coaches will be asked about this incessantly and have to answer for their teammate’s racist remark, putting them in a virtual no-win situation. It’s his white teammates who need to be asked about this, who need to show they understand why what Donaldson was wrong, who need to show they will be the ones to hold him accountable for what he said. If they don’t understand, they (and Donaldson, of course) need to be made to understand. Anything short of that is unacceptable.

What Josh Donaldson said was, again, unacceptable, inappropriate, and racist. There should be no room for it anywhere in baseball, let alone on the Yankees. I implore them to do the right thing and suspend and fine him and make sure he gets the education enough to understand why he was wrong. If the Yankees are unwilling or unable to do that, I hope the league steps in and swiftly corrects them.

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36 Comments

  1. joshuascparkhurst

    Even before Donaldson made the comment, he reminded me, both through looks and actions, as the Jack Parkman character from Major League 2.

    Donaldson made the comment based on something Anderson said three years ago. Apparently he did it before. He brings it up three years later when there is obviously bad blood between the two based on the dustup at 3rd base just a little over a week before. So obviously Donaldson is not making a friendly “inside joke.” He dredged it up precisely to get at him.

    Is this the same as the racist taunts and abuse that players in some sports face today? No. But I also don’t see what the value was in the statement, other than trying to antagonize someone by making a reference to the first black ballplayer in the modern era. I don’t think Donaldson is “racist” in terms of being a white supremacist or trying to systematically deprive Anderson or other black players of standing or opportunity. But he was being a d–k, and that remains the case even if Anderson is something of a trash talker himself or is milking it. If MLB feels that this falls on the side of the line warranting a 1 game suspension, I’m not going to argue the point.

    • HenryKrinkle

      A suspension for needling now? Do you know what players scream from the dugout to get under a pitcher’s skin? Do you know how much jawboning goes on at games? Between players? Players and managers to umps? If being a dik who tries to get under an opponent’s skin is now an offense worthy of suspension, they should hand them out like candy starting tonight. The league kowtowed only b/c of the name that was invoked, no matter what they claim. Anderson’s perception of racist intent was enough to force the league’s hand, that’s all, and that’s why a suspension was quickly handed down.

  2. chip56

    No they don’t.

    I’m sorry, but you guys are just wrong on this.

    If Tim Anderson compared any part of his “struggle” as an African American baseball player to that of Jackie Robinson’s then he is tone deaf, and an idiot. It would be like me comparing my struggles as a Jew facing antisemitism to what my great grandparents lived through during the pogroms, or what my other family members lived through during the Holocaust.

    If Tim Anderson compared his game to that of Jackie Robinson’s well that’s off base too. It would be like Nestor Cortes coming out and saying he’s Sandy Koufax. It doesn’t fit.

    Either way, Anderson DESERVES to be mocked for comparing himself to Robinson. It’s not racist, he’s just a moron who set himself up for derision.

    • Well stated, chip. I completely agree. If Aaron Judge had compared himself to Babe Ruth I would say he deserves to be mocked as well. With Jackie, though, it’s an even bigger error because of everything Jackie had to go through while playing baseball. Anderson doesn’t have to go through any of that because of players like Jackie. It was just a dumb comment by Anderson and deserves to be mocked.

      Had Anderson never compared himself to Jackie then I would agree it’s racist but he did and it was dumb so fair game. It’s just too bad race has to be brought into everything.

      • Anderson may deserve to be mocked, but because of all the racism in this country, white people can’t be the ones to do it.

    • I’m not defending Anderson here but he used the Jackie Robinson comparison 1X in 2019, why in the world would Donaldson still be talking about it in 2022 unless (1) he’s a complete idiot or (2) he’s a complete racist idiot?

      • Nick

        Option 3 – He’s a well known trash talker. Is there a statute of limitations on how long you can make fun of someone for something they said? 3 weeks, then you need to come up with new material?

        • MG309

          The answer is how you react to someone who ribs you every chance he/she gets a chance, how long before you get pissed off?

    • Mitch Forman

      You. Nailed. It. Anderson is a self-promoting, self-aggrandizing narcissist who serves to be insulted for his hubris.

  3. MLB suspended Donaldson for 1 game (he is appealing) and the Yankees placed him on the Covid IL effective today.

    He hasn’t tested positive but has symptoms.

  4. MikeD

    So if a POC says someone is racist, they therefore must be racist and suspended?

    Matt, you’ve summed up much of what is wrong with our society.

    • Don’t be so insensitive, Mike. If you were black, you’d be acutely aware of all the racism in this country. Besides the many millions of white people in this country who think poorly of black people, white people have systemic advantages over black people – like higher pay, higher chances of getting a loan and lower chances of having to deal with confrontational police. So there should be zero tolerance for racist comments. If the white person doesn’t think the comment was racist but sees that the black person got upset, the white person should apologize immediately. The point is not whether or not the comment was racist, but that the black person felt it was – which is enough, given all the BS black people have to deal with. If Donaldson apologized as soon as he saw that Anderson was upset with the “Jackie” comment, this would never have happened and Donaldson wouldn’t have been suspended.

  5. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    You wanted a suspension you got it, Matt! Donaldson suspended 1 game. That’s why you see this crapola lineup tonight. And just as the Yankees are going through their worst stretch of the season. Great job, hope you feel better about yourself. The pen is in shambles. Hicks is the worst CFer in the league. The starters throw 7 shutout innings and still lose. But we’ve cleansed our souls so another loss tonight is a small price to pay for self righteousness. Give me a break.

  6. Sort it out on the Field

    The Yankees will not take any steps to correct Donaldson’s behaviors. Opposing teams should. A 95 mph heater at his earflap in each and every series would remedy Donaldson’s racist rhetoric and continued non-baseball antics.

  7. John Hanna

    Wow.

    I guess I now need to preface my comment by saying that I’m an immigrant, a “brown” person in today’s vernacular. So, as a real live, authentic POC, I don’t know where I fall on the permitted to have an opinion spectrum. Nevertheless, I’ll proceed.

    Anderson compared himself to Jackie Robinson. Donaldson called him, “Jackie.” That’s it.

    Based on the absolute certainty of their statements, the writers of this blog come from an entirely different perspective, a whole worldview that effectively functions as a religion that guides their lives and their moral perspective. It does not seem to me it can be argued or reasoned with. And people are allowed to have differing beliefs. They have a right to be wrong in so far as I’m concerned.

    The problem is they don’t grant that “right to be wrong” in so far as they’re concerned, to others. The belief system advanced here has a nonnegotiable commitment to mandatory compliance by everyone. It’s punitive, requiring the sanctioning of blasphemers, heretics, and any who are disobedient.

    This is why we’re in this bind as a society. Somewhere along the way, those who subscribe to this mandatory belief system captured our societal institutions. And here we are.

    • TommyJohn

      What you say is not true. There are more facts which provide context to the facts you select. What i see is people making arguments about the relevance of context. Sure religion does that, but so does Sociology or literary criticism.

    • You are entitled to have this opinion but it’s baseball, not life, and baseball (like all team sports) have always had their own ‘set of rules’ regarding what is said on the playing field.

      Donaldson has a reputation for being ‘edgy’, it’s been reported like that in virtually every article about him I’ve read-what that really meant was that he gets under the skin of opposing players on a regular basis. It’s pretty clear from what happened with Anderson that his way of doing this is crap like repeating the same annoying stuff on a regular basis.

      Anderson also has a reputation for being ‘edgy’-in his case it’s likely somewhat different, like bat flipping after hitting a home run but probably also has roots in the things he says on the field.

      Anyone who has ever played any team sport has heard stuff like this, it isn’t new. In this case, though, Anderson took offense to the ‘Jackie’ comments and made it public. Graig Nettles and Bill Lee had big issues when they played but never talked about it off the field but it exploded in a brawl, do you remember anything about that?

      At the end of the day, though, this is an issue between the Yankees and White Sox and between Donaldson and Anderson. I’m pretty sure the teams either mutually or separately decided not to have the two of them on the field at the same time in the doubleheader yesterday as part of at least a short term solution. As for the rest, it’s not likely to change much, baseball has been around for a very long time and even though it’s come a very long way from Ben Chapman yelling hte N word over and over at Jackie Robinson in 1947 there is still a very long way to go.

  8. Donaldson is clearly being an idiot for continuing to call Anderson the same thing for over two years-ribs are OK the 1st few times anyone says them but after that they become an annoyance. That’s the same whether you are black, white, yellow or chartreuse, it’s a universal rule.

    I don’t like to use a paint brush with a broad stroke but Donaldson grew up in Pensacola, FL, the middle of the Florida Panhandle. I lived there for two years in the mid-2000s and saw (and heard) enough racist garbage to understand there is the potential for some fire accompanying the smoke of his comment.

    As for the comparison to Jackie Robinson, Anderson couldn’t be further off-Jackie played the game with a passion that has been rarely seen in any sport yet he did so without ever once complaining publicly about his treatment. If Anderson compared himself to Rick Henderson it would far more accurate.

    As for suspending Donaldson, that’s a tough one because we don’t really know how his teammates (black, white, or Hispanic) have reacted to all of this. If he’s pissed off his teammates then a suspension makes sense, if not it should just be left alone-the Yankees and White Sox don’t play again this year during the regular season so nothing is likely to happen on the field.

  9. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    And Donaldson may be a jerk but at least he can hit some of the time. Hicks does nothing and when he does get on base he gets picked off and runs into outs. How do you get picked off at 2nd there? And why wasn’t Marwin bunting? Way to not get DJ up there with men on. Only 6 years left to go in that Hicks deal, Cash! Hicks is the new Ellsbury.

  10. Wire Fan

    Wasn’t Donaldson simply mocking him for his interview several years ago? Isn’t there a distinction between mocking some one and making a racial comment. Are we at a point where anything negative or mocking is now classified as racist?

    If Aaron Judge labeled himself as a modem day Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron and following a pop-up in the IF an opposing player said “nice contact Babe” or “nice contact Hank”, would that be considered racist?

    This seems more like Donaldson being who he is – an abrasive jerk.

    • Jim Graber

      AMEN

    • Did you read the article? If a white person calls a POC a name and the POC thinks that’s racist, it’s racist. Donaldson’s a jerk AND a racist.

  11. Milt+Mankoff

    A have mixed feelings on this. I think racism is an endemic feature of US history…the poison from the day the first slave was brought here. I also think that black people are actually more often victimized by it than they can possibly know unless they have a white companion retracing their in-store shopping, applying for a job with the same resume, trying to rent an apartment, buy a used car,etc.

    This was actually done on a Diane Sawyer Prime Time show years ago and youtube carries it. Everyone should see it. It’s horrifying because the racism is accompanied by politeness in virtually all cases, e.g. “Oh sorry, we just hired someone” and then the white guy comes in for the same job and is offered it; the same used car is priced higher by the same salesman when the black customer is asking about it.

    At the same time everyone who has experienced racism is rightfully hyper-vigilant and sometimes might interpret an event as racist when it might be someone just being a jerk.
    I don’t know anything about Donaldson beyond his calling out Cole on sticky stuff and now this comment. I have no idea what his politics are. I once met Marvin Miller and he told me–this was in the 70s–that almost all the white players were Republicans. He attributes to their high earnings and wanting to keep their taxes low, but it could also be that most come from zip codes that are more apt to be right-wing, and racism is certainly part of the brew in GOP world.

    So, Donaldson might be a racist, or just a jerk who likes to get under opponent’s skin with something that will have that effect. Of course, using the Jackie bit could be said to be racist, but maybe just because it would annoy Anderson.

    Donaldson should minimally make a formal statement disavowing racist intent for his own good.
    Beyond that, I am on the fence. I agree it puts his teammates in an awkward position.

  12. Joe S

    Thanks for the article Matt. I agree completely.

  13. KenS

    John McWhorter, an academic who studies language and a Black man, has written about his concern that some of the current anti-racist movement infantilizes Black Americans – reduces them to “endlessly delicate poster children.”

    In my opinion, that’s the case here. As other commenters have noted, Anderson compared himself to Jackie Robinson in that 2019 SI article. At the time, he saw himself as breaking the “have-fun barrier.” Also just my opinion, but this is self-aggrandizing blasphemy. To claim any sort of parity between what Robinson endured and Anderson’s self-proclaimed ambassadorship diminishes Robinson’s heroic courage and self-restraint.

    Anderson opened himself up to being called on his comparison. He needs to own that.

  14. TommyJohn

    When Anderson compared himself to Jackie Robinson, he apparently was talking about style of play and it was a one time thing. In 2019, baseball was at the height of home run or bust approach. He was saying that just as Jackie R brought an entertaining style of play (steals of home, etc.) to the big leagues, so would he Tim Anderson. Donaldson repeating it was an act of deliberate racial aggression, and denying it is a sign of his assumed privilege. He needs to stfu, and he needs to be disciplined.

  15. I have never understood why people vehemently deny or downplay racist experiences. It’s not a ‘slippery slope’, it’s not a ‘woke culture response’ etc, etc. It was a microaggression. JD didn’t mean it as a compliment, he was being an a-hole. Something he is well known and established to be. As a Yankees fan, and a Black man, I have noticed a lot over the course of 40 years watching this team. Bottom line is this, and applies to every situation honestly, if you just keep your mouth shut then no one ever has to be accused of anything or have to interpret intent. I don’t expect anyone who has never lived a day of being Black in America to understand so it is what it is to an extent. I don’t expect them to discipline JD separately from whatever MLB decides to do and I am not sure that they need to per se. This team has shown that they have a growing chemistry and are capable of handling things so I am hopeful that he comes away from this better informed on the limits to his a-hole-ness to avoid stuff like this in the future.

  16. Anthony Rizzeddardo

    Oh stop it, Matt. I’m so sick and tired of this constant wokeness and push to cancel everyone forever for one flippant comment. Josh’s explanation was fine. It wasn’t racial in any way. Now I do think Josh was in the wrong on that play at 3rd base. That was a bush league move but if the guy has the audacity to call himself the modern day Jackie Robinson he has to be fine with the criticism that comes with it. If the Sox have a problem with it they can throw 95 mph at Donaldson’s eyes. That’s how baseball self polices these kinds of things.

    • Ah, the myth of “wokeness” rises again. As if this country is just chock full of people going out of their way to correct racism! Meanwhile, we have little boys with automatic weapons killing black shoppers because they’ve been taught that the black shoppers are here to “replace” them.

      What’s more dangerous? People being too “woke” or people with gun fetishes and Trump daddy issues being fed buckets of lies about immigrants and people of color?

  17. HenryKrinkle

    They might — or the league might — kowtow in the end, but they shouldn’t. It’s a weird world where feelings now constitute proof, and virtue signaling phonies parrot that illogic. “I think” now means my view can’t be mistaken or even challenged — b/c it’s “my truth” — but sorry, reality doesn’t bend to anyone’s whims or feelings.

    To ignore the context that includes Anderson’s SI interview, as well as the past Giolito/JD feud, to turn this into a racist thing, when it was so obviously an ongoing tweak about his self-importance, is bizarre. It wasn’t about his skin, it was about getting under it. JD is a jerk who likes to needle on the field, and TA is a blow-hard who likes to blab off it. I wonder if the White Sox should’ve suspended Anderson for tweeting “stfu” to Ozzie Guillen? (I guess TA is the only one allowed to express opinions.) “Stfu” to a paid analyst, and White Sox vet, and giving the middle finger to Cleveland fans, must be part of Anderson’s mission to attract black youth to baseball. Another Jackie. Right. (That’s sarcasm, not racism.)

  18. sevrox

    So this after TA compared himself to Jackie Robinson? Uh…I believe JD was just having fun and I see no wrong with what he said if TA is idiot enough to put himself on the same level as Jackie. Nothing to see here, but media has and will continue to blow it all out of proportion because they have nothing else better to do.

  19. Mikenyc2007

    Of course a person of a different color or culture can determine what is “racist” …it’s a word and a definition is available in the law and in the dictionary.

    The statements that some cultures or colors aren’t permitted to have other than a racist inference from Donaldson’s words is as myopic as thinking every reader needs an education on the topic of racism this morning.

    IMHO…Please stick with baseball- the game, not the drama- no one wants to deal with this nonsense on a baseball site, whether it be your post or my response- and I really look forward to reading your posts because you guys put a ton of effort into your work… but very few people I know come here for social Commentary.

    • Nick

      Taking it a step further.

      If only people of color can determine if something is racist, and if racist actions lead to a suspension (they SHOULD fyi) then that feels like a pretty slippery slope towards giving some players the power to suspend their opponents.

  20. Bob H

    Is there any jurisdictional issue about suspensions between the league and the team? Like, if the Yankees do suspend him, could the league suspend him more? Or in the flip side could the Yankees stay out of it because they know the league will do it? Are there rules about who gets first dibs on suspensions?

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