Yesterday, the Atlantic published a study by Seth Amitin that suggested that baseball announcers, as a group, speak differently about foreign-born Latino players in the game than they do about American or Canadian players. According to Amitin,
“The analysis reveals that foreign-born players—the vast majority of whom are Latino—are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to receiving praise for intangibles. Latino players are almost 13 percent less likely to be praised for intangibles than their white counterparts. Announcers are nearly 14 percent more likely to praise a US/Canadian-born player for intangibles than they are their international counterparts. (snip)
Indeed, it is not so much that announcers are unwilling to praise non-white players, but the terminology they use in so doing falls into a set of pre-defined "code words." For example, if a player is described as being a "guy next door," or "regular guy" there is a greater than 80 percent chance that player is white. If a player is described as "impatient" or "over-aggressive," there is a greater than 50 percent chance that player is not white.”
As Amitin points out, all of these snubs add up over the long haul to generate a biased portrait of Latino players. And that, as fans of the game and of the men who play it, should be something we fight against. We want fans to see the people who play the game accurately and fairly, and to judge them by the content of their performance (both on the field and off) and not the color of their skin, to paraphrase Martin Luther King.
Not everyone seems to find the study worthwhile, however. The blogfather, Rob Neyer took to Twitter last night to sarcastically note,
Hey guys, human beings are slightly biased against foreigners. And The Atlantic is ON IT. theatlantic.com/entertainment/…— robneyer (@robneyer) August 28, 2012
This seems unfair. The data itself is important, at least as much as it allows for reflexiveness on the part of the broadcast industry and for, hopefully, a correction of the behavior. Rob went on to express his discomfort with “the leap from the ‘data’ to [the] conclusion that broadcasters are racists.”
The data suggests that the broadcasting industry tends to be subconsciously biased against foreign-born Latinos. That is not the same as calling broadcasters racist. That said, Rob’s got a valid concern, and there’s no doubt that people will make that leap in logic. That, however, is not the fault of Amitin or of the data he presented, which pretty convincingly lays out the case that the broadcast industry is on the wrong side of the issue and should work to get better, any more than the makers of Oxycontin are to blame for the ways their drug is prescribed and used irresponsibly.
Pitcher of the Night: Felix Hernandex, 9 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 R
That's three shutouts in August for King Felix, who's got a 1.08 ERA for the month. Batters are hitting .137/.171/.194 off him for the month. What a freaking beast. He's looking more and more like a 2nd Cy Young winner and, as Dave Cameron points out, a Hall of Famer:
Felix Hernandez: 26-years-old, 1,500 career innings, ERA- <=76.Two other pitcher since 1912 could say the same. fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?p…— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) August 28, 2012
Hitter of the Night: Aramis Ramirez, 3-4, 2 HR, 2B, 4 RBI
Except for 2010, Aramis Ramirez has had an OPS+ between 126 and 139 every season since 2004, displaying a remarkably consistent level of offensive production. In a bad Brewers season, Ramirez has been one of the high points, so far doing well to justify his contract. That's going to become more difficult, given how quickly his salary escalates, but for now he's helping to staunch the bleeding in Milwaukee.
Pitcher/Hitter Combo of the Night: Bronson Arroyo, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 R, 1-3, HR
After a disasterous 2011, Arroyo has bounced back nicely as an above average starter in spite of subpar stuff by dropping his HR% by almost 40%. Plus, his first homer of the season proved to be the difference in this game.
Injuries of Note:
Henderson Alvarez, vengeful monkey god
Alvarez had to leave early after taking a grounder off his shin or something, yet another warning that the Blue Jays should finally get around sacrificing a virgin to appease the monkey god. I recommend Dustin Parkes. Alvarez is day-to-day, but not expected to miss a start.
Mark Teixeira, Calf strain
This is why we really shouldn't eat veal. Poor calves. Anyway, Teixeira should be out for the next week, but the Yankees have a 3.5 game cushion and his injury will allow one of my inexplicably favorite players, Steven Pearce, to get some playing time. All to the good, I say.
Red Sox: Daisuke Matsuzaka, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 R
Are you kidding? Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto must really have been the problem after all. I'm for Daisuke to get back to work!
Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury, 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI
With the megadeal now in behind them, and Big Papi's impending free agency ahead of them, it's clear that the Red Sox are Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia's team now, isn't it?
Orioles: Lew Ford, 2-4, HR
Ford's first Major League homer since July of 2007 is the difference here. Ford's only hitting .200/.243/.371, but he's an Oriole, and the O's fricking refuse to go away this year.
A's: Brett Anderson, 7 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 R
Anderson has been incredible since coming off the DL, allowing just one run in his first 14 innings. With Colon out for the rest of the year, they need Anderson to be on the top of his game.
Twins: Liam Hendriks, 9 IP, 3 H 3 BB, 6 K, 1 R
This is Hendriks' first good sart since his first one of the season, but it's also a prime illustration that wins don't matter for pitchers. There's no doubt that Hendriks pitched well enough for his team to win, but he's got absolutely no control over the Twins' bats or the brilliance of Felix Hernandez.
Cardinals: Matt Holliday, 2-4, HR
There's some talk about Holliday being a potential MVP candidate, but it's hard to see how that works exactly. Andrew McCutchen and David Wright are both have a far better claim on it than he does, except that Holliday has a ton of RBI. But Holliday is having a tremendous year, and I'm beginning to wonder if Holliday's going to have a borderline Hall of Fame candidate before it's over. He's 32 and been worth around 45 wins above replacement in his career according to Fangraphs.
Blue Jays: Darren Oliver, 2 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 3 K
41 years old and having, inexplicably, the single greatest season of his career. 46.1 innings, 45 Ks, a 1.75 ERA. God, I hope he pitches forever.
Yankees: Robinson Cano, 2-4, 2 HR
I don't know what to tell you about Robbie Cano that you don't already know. He's just incredible. .310/.376/.553 on the year, and way more power than ever before. If it weren't for Mike Trout, he'd be the hands-down MVP.
Rangers: Adrian Beltre, 3-3, HR, 2B, 4 RBI
If it seems like I'm talking about Adrian Beltre a lot lately, there are a couple reasons for that. One is that I'm conscious of the fact that we pay far too little attention to somebody who is pretty clearly one of the greatest 3B of all time, and the other is that he's hitting .447/.481/.979 with six homers in his last dozen games.
Dodgers: Josh Beckett, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 6 K, 3 R
Beckett's first start on the East Coast could have gone better, though he wasn't awful. He did give up this:
Padres: Casey Kelly, 6 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 R
In his Major League debut, Kelly helps the Padres win their 8th straight game. Kelly's only started eight games this year in the minors, but he looks like he might be becoming the ace the Padres expected when they acquired him for Adrian Gonzalez.