While Kenny Lofton has personally vouched for Gary Sheffield’s explosive claim that Joe Torre treats black players differently than whites, the Yankee skipper tells the New York Post’s George King, “”I don’t feel a need to respond. I feel comfortable with who I am. I don’t try to make evaluations to be honest with you.” The Starting Five’s dwil, however, considers the Tiger slugger’s remarks from a perspective slightly different from that of CSTB’s modern version of the Algonquin Roundtable.

Sheffield is of the, œtake no junk school which mandates for a black man to make it in any profession, he can show no weakness. It would be interesting to hear Reggie Jackson™s take on this compared with a œnicer black player like Dave Winfield.

While I’m grateful for dwil’s take on the matter, it should be pointed out (gratuity being in full force around here, even on vacation) that to hear Robin Givens’ mom tell the tale, Mr. May is anything but “nice”.

Count the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman amongst those who aren’t buying what the Lil’ ‘Stache is selling (“asking whether Torre or the Yankees are racist is a useless question ” I can’t prove Torre isn’t a racist any more than I can prove that he isn’t a mole for the Red Sox.”)

The Yankees’ main prejudice is in favor of players who will help them win; during the Torre era they’ve relied on white and black Americans, as well as Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Venezuelan stars. At various points in the last 11 years, up to a quarter of their roster has been black ” a proportion about twice that of the general black population in baseball. This hardly supports charges of racism. The team did have a five year period, though, in which it featured hardly any black players at all, and over last two years, Sheffield has been the only black player other than Jeter to earn real playing time.

Have black players had their fair chances on the Yankees? On the whole, I’d say so. Players like Williams, Womack, and White were given playing time despite being horrible; Lofton was treated as a part-time player, but that was because he was the fourth-best of the four starting-caliber outfielders the team carried in 2004.