Ask Gary: Can Boston shed its racist reputation?

by Gary Shelton on May 6, 2017 · 4 comments

in general

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

The Red Sox were the last team to integrate - 1959 with Pumpsie Green, 12 years after Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  When is Boston going to shake its terrible legacy?

Scott Myers

It doesn't seem as if everyone in Boston is trying, does it? That's the first thing: For any city to shed a negative connotation of itself, it has to want things to change. It has to demand it.

Let me say this first: I love Boston. I love wandering through the stands at Fenway while Neil Diamond sings. I have a photo I use a lot that was shot of me in the scoreboard. I've seen great football games there.

But this is ignorance on display, and it only takes a handful of lunkheads to ruin the reputation of a good, vibrant city. Even more embarrassing than the insult of Adam Jones was the suggestion of Curt Schilling, moron, that Jones was making it up. (Jones also said a fan threw peanuts at him; that fan was thrown out. Was Jones making that up, too.) The only thing worse than bigotry is the defense of it.

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Look, dozens of players have talked about the tough times they've had in Boston. C.C. Sabathia says it's the only place he's been called the N-word. Carl Crawford has said he heard things. So are they lying, too? Was Bill Russell, never embraced by Boston, making things up. Schilling is still wearing a tin foil hat and walking around with doctored socks.

I grew up in the American South. I once did a story on the first black football players at various schools in the South, and it as embarrassing how long it took for some. I have two bi-racial daughters. So, yeah, I heard a bit of racism over my time, too. And it's always ugly, and it's always hateful.

This is just an off-thought, but I think there is some pride to be taken from the racial attitudes of the Tampa Bay teams. We've come a long way since the early ridicule of Tony Dungy. Three of the Bucs' last six coaches have been black. The best quarterbacks -- Doug Williams, Josh Freeman for a while, Jameis Winston, are black. There has been a black baseball manager. USF"s last two head coaches have been black.

Are there still problems? Sure. Some people don't want to be enlightened. They're rather just sit in the dark and Xerox the old cliches. But if you fail to get to know your sports stars, black or white, you're missing out on something.

Someone should tell them up in Boston.

What's the deal with that Tampa judge going on a rant against Charlie Strong after a second USF football player has run into trouble. Doesn't she realize that these sorts of issues are a product of bad upbringing and not from a  college football head coach not doing his job?  Your thoughts on the whole thing.

Rick Martin

Rick, I wrote about this on Friday. I thought it was an attempt at grandstanding by a thick-headed judge with a very small soapbox.I thought it was a "look at me" moment where the judge cared about a lot of other things besides her job.

Look, I don't mind holding a football coach accountable. That's a good thing. You always have to try for excellence or you're going to turn in Oklahoma or Ohio State or Baylor. But Charlie Strong has been on the job for 146 days. He didn't recruit the two players who have been arrested, and he has never coached them in a game. The first of those players was immediately dismissed from his team; what else is he supposed to do?

Over the years, we'll find out about Strong. If he's as solid as his stays at Louisville and Texas showed, then we'll applaud his high standards. If the Bulls are a reckless bunch of law-breakers, then you can lay it at his feet and it's fair. But I wonder how many days in his 146 that Strong interacted with LaDarrius Jackson. Not many, I'll bet, between recruiting and moving in.

I said this Friday. Every school is going to have problems. It's how a coach reacts to those problems that speak to the leadership of the program. Give Strong time, and we'll see.

That's called justice. Maybe the judge could look it up.

What do you think the Rays will do when (if) Duffy comes off the DL?

Cecil DeBald

Do you think that will happen? Will he be accompanied by the Easter Bunny and the Pied Piper?

Seriously, if Duffy does come back, and if he's healthy, the original plan was for him to step in at shortstop and Tim Beckham to become the super-sub the team had planned. I would think Beckham's hot streak, and Duffy's injury,  has ensured he'll spend a little more time in the lineup. I could see him filling in as Duffy eases back in, and spending time at second for Brad Miller, for instance. Or for Evan Longoria, who is having problems with his heel.

The Rays have a lot of problems, but one of them isn't that they have too many good baseball players. Beckham will get his at bats as long as he's doing well. But he's never been this good over an entire season. Are you confident he can continue to play as well as he has?

One thing I'd be concerned with, however, is how Beckham would adjust to not being an every day player. Will it affect the comfort level he has going now?

The Rays curious decision to have their closer pitch multiple innings has led directly to 3 losses and has made me wonder who is really making these decisions on overall strategies of the team in general. Is it Kevin Cash or Silverman and his management team? And if it’s not Cash does the Rays manager have less authority than typical MLB managers?

Larry Beller

The game of baseball has changed from the days of Earl Weaver and Billy Martin, where a baseball manager ruled not just his team but his organization. These days, most teams try to plan out a lot of their games with their scouts and the guys in charge of analytics. Who's the long man? Who's the closer? Etc. It's a front-office driven game these days.

You know the stereotype of the baseball manager who has been through six teams on his way to life time of managing? It doesn't really exist anymore. The major leagues are filled with first and second-time managers who do they're told by the front office.

I don't think Cash is out of the ordinary there. He still makes his points -- last year, he decided the team needed to swing more freely, and he got his point across. But I've often said this: A baseball manager has less influence on the final score than the coach of any major sport. For one thing, he doesn't have free substitution. Dirk Koetter can let Jameis Winston throw it 50 times a game. Jon Cooper can make sure Nikita Kucherov gets 20 minutes of ice time. But Evan Longoria is basically going to get the same at-bats as Derek Norris.

 

 

 

 

Larry

 

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller May 6, 2017 at 6:49 am

Gary, So you are saying Joe Girardi and Joe Madden have about the same authority as Kevin Cash when it comes to their team’s strategies.? Interesting. I always thought senior management controlled what the Rays do but didn’t realize it was commonly done with other teams. Those top name guys seem way over paid if they are basically delivering messages sent down from management.

Reply

Gary Shelton May 6, 2017 at 10:32 am

Pretty much. Certainly, when he was here, Maddon ran game day, but as far as philosophies of hitting vs. taking, selection of draft picks and free agents, his was just one vote. Andrew Friedman ran things. I think most of us would say Maddon is better than Cash at getting his ideas across, but the organization hasn’t changed.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say managers are merely passing on messages. A manager’s bottom-line job is to handle the chemistry of the clubhouse and be in charge of the game maneuvering — when to go to a reliever, when to pinch-hit. It was Cash’s decision to have Archer pitch to Kendrys Morales on Friday night, for instance, even though the analytics suggested he should rarely do so. A manager is still the responsibility most players look for; he’s the guy in the dugout.

But we’ve come a long way from the manager being the main voice for a franchise. Again, and I’ve done this, if you go team-by-team, you’d be surprised at the average experience of most managers. There are very few who have had 1-2 managing jobs before their current one.

Reply

Larry Beller May 6, 2017 at 1:27 pm

I should have been more specific but in the case of deciding if Colome should pitch 2 innings, as I understand it, Silverman’s team and not Cash that has decided that is something that should happen. Do you think they decide what day he should do it or how does that work?

Reply

Gary Shelton May 6, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Obviously, I’m guessing. But I’d bet that someone brought up the idea of Colome going more than one inning. He didn’t do it more than once without feedback from the front office. Again, I’m guessing, because I wasn’t in the room. But a manager would never do that without the front office going along with it.

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