Ozzie Guillen’s proclamations concerning the plight of Latino ballplayers this week had me thinking about Earl Bush. The press agent during most of the reign of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (father of the incumbent), Bush’s job was to massage the malformed utterances of his boss into comprehensible messages for the media. Oratory not being a Daley trait, it took constant effort. “Write what he means, not what he says,” Bush once tiredly snarled at the press corps.
This is a service Ozzie Guillen could use. Because the White Sox skipper, right as he was about the general case of Latin American baseball players being routinely taken advantage of by the institution of baseball, actually has not done much to tell that story. Instead, he’s fired the starter pistol at the dumbass derby, prompting nothing more than another tsunami of outrage from the game’s dullest fans toward uppity newcomers to our country. Worse, Guillen has led his own organization to quietly distance itself from the truth, as the Sun-Times Joe Cowley notes:
From Curt Schilling to Eduardo Perez, Bobby Valentine to Nomar Garciaparra, former major-league players both of Latin descent and born right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. all publicly came out in support of the statements made by Ozzie Guillen.
His own White Sox organization? The same organization he has professed time and time again that he would ”die for”?
Well, cut them some slack, they were a little busy. After all, cleaning the tires of the bus they used to run over their seventh-year manager required a bit of time.
Even more embarrassing for ”The Club” was the fact that it refused to identify the driver of that bus Tuesday.
”The statement came on behalf of the entire White Sox organization, which is why there is no specific attribution, and we will not disclose who was involved with authorship,” Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert wrote in a text when asked about putting a name to the release.
It was in the wake of Guillen’s comments about the treatment of Latin players before the game Sunday that the Sox issued ”the statement,” with fun little shots such as this: ”This is an issue Ozzie Guillen obviously feels very passionately about. Ozzie certainly has his own experiences as a player, coach and manager, and is entitled to his own opinions, but the Chicago White Sox believe his views are incorrect.”
What is the the truth? Due to the hugely lopsided economic disparity between North America and its southern neighbors, Latin American kids, aged 15-16, are in fact pressured to come to the states to play ball. In stark contrast, adults from the US and from other places with pro ball infrastructures that the DR or Venezuela can only dream of having, are instead offered an opportunity. This distinction is huge, all-defining and of course totally lost on most of North America’s baseball fans, who are this week lining up at blog comment forms and radio call-in queues with nugget after nugget of speak-English-or-get-out stupidity in the wake of Ozzie’s softball blurts.
And softballs they were: “Japanese players skip the minors and Latino players don’t.” Yeah, no kidding: Japanese players are in pro leagues before they come here. “Minor league teams don’t provide Spanish translators”. Yeah, no kidding: not only do a full third of the players speak Spanish already, you’re talking about the minor league: home of the modest salary. If there aren’t translators in the kitchens of the nation’s TGI Fridays (and there are not) why would anyone expect there to be one on duty for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans? May as well complain about the lack of jet transport.
Two untreated diseases called colonialism and neoliberal economics have produced the symptoms in MLB that Ozzie brings up. In the foreign countries most blessed with baseball talent, these diseases have performed as designed and extracted the local resources with a quickness, building training camps for teenagers instead of stadiums.
If US fans knew this, would we hear caller after caller echo how “millionaires should hire their own Spanish translators”? Lacking an Earl Bush, Ozzie needed to say it right. It’s too frustrating to see a blown opportunity where a blown whistle should have been.