What's Happening in the Bronx? The MLB Investigates Racist Remarks Made By Yankees Third Baseman Josh Donaldson

What's Happening in the Bronx? The MLB Investigates Racist Remarks Made By Yankees Third Baseman Josh Donaldson
Image ©Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Frank Weber
Author:
Frank Weber
Updated: 
August 26th 2022 - 08:24 AM

The evil empire is back to its winning ways–the Yankees have won six of their last ten, and have a five-game stranglehold on the AL East. Aaron Judge is doing his best to prove he’s worth that $300+ million contract, hitting .435 in his last seven games, adding on 3 homers to boot. Giancarlo Stanton is also living up to all the hype, hitting .328 with 7 home runs and 21 RBIs in the month of May. Everything is coming together for the Yankees–but at the same time, everything is falling apart.

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The Incident

If you’re a fan of baseball, you’ve surely heard of the drama surrounding the Yankees/White Sox series this past weekend. After Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson applied what seemed to be a bit of a physical tag on Tim Anderson in their game last week, tensions began to flare. Fast forward to Saturday’s game, and the anger seemed to boil over–White Sox Catcher Yasmani Grandal had something to say to Donaldson when he came up to bat, and this led to a benches-clearing scuffle in the middle of the field.

No one was ejected, no fines were dulled out, and the Yankees went on to win 7-5. It wasn’t until after the game that we finally figured out what had happened.

In Tim Anderson’s post-game press conference, he revealed that Josh Donaldson had called him “Jackie” (in reference to Jackie Robinson) early during Saturday’s game. This is what caused Grandal to confront Donaldson mid-game, and what led to the benches clearing spat.

"He just made a disrespectful comment," Anderson said. "Basically he was trying to call me Jackie Robinson. 'What's up, Jackie?' I don't play like that. I don't really play at all. I wasn't really going to bother nobody today, but he made the comment and you know it was disrespectful and I don't think it was called for. It was unnecessary."

Donaldson does not deny these claims–the opposite, actually. He admitted to calling Anderson “Jackie,” but claims he’s been doing it for years, and the two actually joke about it. Donaldson cited a 2019 interview in which Tim Anderson referred to himself as the “new Jackie Robinson,” and said it all started then.

"My meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter,'' Donaldson said. "Obviously, he deemed it disrespectful. And look, if he did, I apologize. That's not what I was trying to do by any manner and that's what happened.''

The MLB is currently investigating the situation further. The Yankees and White Sox finished up their series with a doubleheader on Sunday. In the first game, Donaldson played and Anderson did not. In the second game, Anderson played and Donaldson did not. Makes you wonder.

The Root of Anderson’s Comment

If Donaldson had read more than just that one quote from that 2019 interview, he would have had a better understanding of what Anderson was trying to say. Anderson was not referencing his on-field ability or his stature in the history of the game. He was just trying to portray how he felt, which was that it’s an uphill battle for him to be himself on the field–even when the MLB is trying to encourage the players to be themselves.

Anderson was referring to a point in the 2019 season where he celebrated a home run against the Kansas City Royals, tossing his bat while watching the ball sore over the fence. The Royals later intentionally hit him, which set off a fight. Despite being on the receiving end of things, Anderson was still suspended for one game due to his reaction after being intentionally hit. So the MLB encourages players to be themselves–but only when they conform to their “standards.”

Anderson’s intentions were never to belittle the impact of Robinson, or boost his own ego–he was just stating how he felt at the time. Anderson felt like he could not be himself on the diamond, which is something that Robinson fought for throughout his entire career. When we celebrate Jackie Robinson, we like to look at it with a “mission accomplished” attitude, when in fact, that’s not completely true. Yes, Robinson broke the color barrier, but that was really only the beginning of the fight, not the end. Black baseball players have had to unfairly fight inequality since they were allowed in the league, and that unfortunately still holds true today.

The number of Black MLB players increased every year from 1947-1975, reaching 18.5% at its peak. In today’s game, however, only 7.6% of all MLB players are black. Former player and Hall of Fame member Reggie Jackson noticed the inequalities first hand, and see’s it even more so in today’s game:

“The saddest part of it all is the fact that the inequities still are large. Way more than they should be. We have less Black players. We have less [Black] people in the front office. We have a president of a team in Chicago with Ken Williams. I don’t know that we have a general manager.”

Anderson Hushes the Bronx

In game two of the doubleheader, Anderson had a chance to put the nail in the coffin and build upon his team’s 2-0 over the Yankees in the top of the eighth. Anderson stepped up to the plate with two men on, and immediately the Bronx crowd began to boo him–some even repeating Donaldson’s “Jackie” comment.

Anderson fought fire with fire–smashing a three-run homer off of Miguel Castro, putting the Sox up 5-0, which was ultimately the final score. A hot microphone caught Anderson screaming while entering the dugout “Making motherf*****s shut the f*** up,” which was a comment he declined to elaborate on more after the game.

In reality, though, he said more than enough.

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