While Tony Massarotti absolutely buries Coco Crisp in this morning’s Boston Herald (“what, exactly, did the Red Sox ever see in this guy?”), Bugs & Cranks’ Dan Tobin ignores the mounting evidence the outfielder is a total bust, arguing that Crisp’s benching yesterday in favor of Wily Mo Pena is another episode in the club and city’s “shameful record on race.” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

60 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, 38 years after the Red Sox followed suit, they have exactly one (1) African-American player on the team, and Francona chose to bench him on the day honoring the emergence of African-American players in baseball. Only three people were going to wear the 42 for the Red Sox yesterday, and one was the third-base coach.

I™m glad he didn™t bench him for, like, Eric Hinske, but come on. I know, Coco™s in a bad slump and needs a day off, and winning baseball games for the Red Sox should be a priority over symbolic gestures. BUT COME ON. It™s the 8-spot in the lineup and his presence is imbued with significance. WOULD YOU COME ON ALREADY?!

I don™t think there was an actively racist motive behind the move, but it shows remarkable insensitivity: implicit racism is just as bad as explicit, and far more dangerous. As Chuck D once said, œThese days you can™t see whose in cahoots, ™cause now the KKK wears three-piece suits. I don™t thnk Francona™s a Grand Wizard or anything. But if he was willing to bench his only black player on Jackie Robinson Day, I think he truly doesn™t get it. As a recent South Park pointed out, maybe a white person never truly can. But they can do better than this, and I™m sad my team didn™t.

Though I do think Tobin overstates things a tad — Boston’s crummy racial history aside, Tito’s being paid to win games — I will agree it was very poor judgement on the part of the Red Sox to invite Don Imus to throw out the first pitch yesterday.