ESPN’s afternoon drive time yackmeister Erik Kuselias (above, center) was all over the Omar “Latinos In The House” Minaya story today. Though failing to mention Chris Russo or the ton of coverage this story has received in the NY papers (perhaps we’re supposed to believe they don’t get the NY Times in Bristol, CT), Kuselias mentioned that “some people have said there’s an ethnic component to how Minaya has assembled the team”. Ah, the reliable “some people”. In other words, Erik isn’t the one calling out Minaya. That’s someone else’s burden.

“I’m not even saying he’s done that,” stressed Kuselias. Rather, the host wanted to know, is such a racial/ethnic make-up something to be encouraged or condemned? “If the Kansas City Royals said ‘We’re gonna put together the best 20 white guys we can find,’, would you be ok with that?”

One of Erik’s loyal listeners rang up to say “I don’t think most white people really care one way or another, but it’s just my opinion that blacks and hispanics won’t pay to see white people.” Mused the host, “I suspect you’re right.”

At moments like this, I don’t think Kuselias is at all qualified to say what it is like to go through life in a place where another race or ethnic group’s culture is completley dominant.

And if I’m to understand correctly, Omar Minaya — perhaps the only man in America who thinks that Hispanics aren’t a large minority in New York, but are in fact, the overwhelming majority — has blatantly tried to pander to this massive audience. Not that Erik is actually accusing him of such a thing, of course. He’s just repeating the slur.

(Tom Yawkey just called from beyond-the-grave. He’s got some free obstructed view tickets to Opening Day he’d like to give Kuselias.)

Flashing his sociology chops, Kusilas observed “most people want to identify with people who are like them”. And whether or not you agree with such a statement, it doesn’t seem a stretch to conclude that white American males have no shortage of pop culture icons, sporting or otherwise, they can readily identify with. And as such, I fail to see anything remotely sinisiter, racist, “reverse racist”, etc. with the New York Mets trying to sell tickets to a large audience of non-whites who might have been previously overlooked. If the addition of Pedro, Beltran, Delgado, etc. makes said tickets an easier sell, hopefully it’s an easier sell to anyone who’d like to see a team that doesn’t suck. Though I doubt there was ever a racial angle to guys like Tom Glavine, John Franco, Mike Piazza or Todd Hundley being the faces of the franchise, I also don’t recall any sports radio screamers raising the point.

(ADDENDUM : Though I’ve rambled a bit on this particular subject this week, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman pretty much sums the whole thing up. NewsCorp. Employee With Functioning Brain In The House!)