- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 9, 2003

No all-out media deluge is coming to Dusty Baker.

He is not going to lose his managerial job with the Cubs. He is not going to be required to apologize. There is not going to be an outpouring of condemnation.

The thought police are not looking to banish him to the margins of society, drawing up the paperwork that results in his dismissal.

You know the drill, going back to Al Campanis.

But not this time. Not this week. Relax.

Baker is cool. He is all right. Stop pestering him. Let the man enjoy life.

We’ll get the next one, as long as he meets the necessary requirements.

This dishonest process is inevitably dependent on the color of the person’s skin.

In this case, fortunately, Baker rates a free pass in the national press because of his politically sacred skin tone. The outcome is acceptable, just not the basis behind it.

Baker, the part-time social scientist, believes blacks and Latinos have a pigment advantage over whites in baseball’s summer months.

He apparently has come to this conclusion through years of anecdotal evidence, if not statistical analysis. Baseball, after all, is the one game that collects statistics on everything.

Baker sounds like a manager who possibly digests statistics along racial lines, no unimportant detail if one of his lighter-skinned players is flirting with heatstroke in the latter stages of a one-run game.

“We were brought over here for the heat,” Baker said Saturday. “Isn’t that history? Your skin color is more conducive to heat than it is to the lighter-skinned people. I don’t see brothers running around burnt.”

This depends on the burnt brother, assuming Wacko Jacko is still considered a brother after he caught on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984.

You can go wherever you want with Baker’s insight on the various human responses to the sun.

You do see an awful lot of white faces in the winter sports, whatever that means, if it means anything to Baker. Who knows? Who cares?

That is the point, often ignored if the subject is vulnerable to attacks from the left.

Baker said what he said, and he is standing by what he said, and if you are offended by what he said, then that is your problem.

Go see a therapist. Join a support group. Have a group hug. Do what you need to do to feel better.

Here’s another suggestion: We could take this moment to be less sensitive and a whole lot more fair with our free-speech interpretations.

We tend to celebrate the free speech of those antiwar protesters who disrupt traffic, create a public disturbance and compare President Bush to Hitler. We tend to think it is almost neat if someone burns the American flag.

Yet we often go looking for pink slips or some form of retribution if the free speech is drafted from a member of an unprotected group, even if the person’s words are made in jest or in the heat of the moment and threaten no one but the political activist groups paid to take offense.

John Rocker could run, but he could not hide from an interview he granted to Sports Illustrated in 1999. Wherever he went, however he performed, Rocker was enveloped in the foul odor of his comments.

As far as bad career moves go, Rocker would have been better off to be a drug addict than a full-of-himself ace reliever with a penchant for flippancy and politically incorrect observations. At least as a recovering drug addict, Rocker would have been granted the mushy-headed sympathies of the chattering class.

No exhaustive parsing is really necessary in these matters, as long as you consider the source. Baker is a baseball guy, nothing more than that, who is entitled to his opinions, accurate or not. The same can be said of all those purveyors of ill-advised comments in recent years.

The collection reveals a misaligned playing field that comes with footnotes, qualifiers and asterisks.

The bold will thump their chests in defense of the antiwar views of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, two relatively inane thinkers from Hollywood put on waivers by baseball last spring.

Yet they are horrified if Rocker objects to New York City’s multicultural stew, suggesting it would be beneficial if he attended the Falkland Islands Pride Day, or this or that Pride Day.

Baker represents a half right.

He is being spared the mind-bending assault of the national press not because we recognize the hypocrisy of it but because he has a get-out-of-jail card in his possession.

Good for him. Too bad if the next person in Baker’s position lacks his impregnable armor.

A GALLERY OF GAFFES

“No, I don’t believe it’s prejudice. I truly believe that they may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager.”

— Dodgers vice president Al Campanis, in a 1987 interview with Ted Koppel on “Nightline,” commenting on the small number of minorities in managerial and front office positions in baseball.

“The black is the better athlete. And he practices to be the better athlete, and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back to the slave period. The slave owner would breed this big black with this big black woman, so he could have a big black kid. That’s where it all started.”

— CBS broadcaster Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, 1988.

Hitler “was good in the beginning, but he went too far.”

— Reds owner Marge Schott (right), 1996.

“That little boy is driving well and he’s putting well. You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. … Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”

— Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller (right), joking in 1997 about the potential cuisine of champion Tiger Woods at the Masters’ championship dinner the following year.

Blacks “like to sing and dance.” Whites “know how to tap into money.” Hispanics “are gifted at family structure. You can see a Hispanic person and he can put 20 or 30 people in one home.” Asians can “turn a television into a watch.” American Indians “have been gifted in spirituality.”

— NFL player and ordained minister Reggie White, 1998.

“I would retire first. It’s the most hectic, nerve-wracking city. Imagine having to take the [No.] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you’re [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing.”

— Baseball pitcher John Rocker (right), in 1999 on the prospect of playing with one of the two New York City teams.

“Jews are stubborn. Why did they persecute Jesus unless he knew something they didn’t want to accept? They had his blood on their hands. Then they spit in Jesus’ face and hit him with their fists. There are Christians getting persecuted by Jews every day.”

— NBA player Charlie Ward, 2001.

“Go drink another beer, you Mexican piece of [bleep].”

— Nuggets coach Dan Issel, in 2001 to a heckler in the stands following a loss.

“Tell Yao Ming: ‘Ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh.’ ”

— NBA player, part-time comedian Shaquille O’Neal (right), 2003.

“Let’s face facts, lesbians in the sport hurt women’s golf. It’s paraded. There’s a defiance in them in the past decade. … Women are handicapped by having [breasts]. It’s not easy for them to keep their left arm straight, and that’s one of the tenets of the game.”

— CBS golf analyst Ben Wright, 1995.

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