Friday, January 28, 2005

Delgado Speaks Out!

Speaking of baseball players as respected human beings, I have to give props to Carlos "Skinny" Delgado. (That' s "skinny" twice if you count the nickname.)
He had been the subject of much controversy because he chose to sit for God Bless America during games last year, possibly costing him millions in dollar since it was his walk year (time to negotiate for a new contract). He had said that he would stop the practice if strictly forbidden by his new team. He ended up signing with the Florida Marlins and has publically stated that he will continue his sitting:
His explanation is particularly thoughtful:
"The reason why I didn't stand for `God Bless America' was because I didn't like the way they tied `God Bless America' and 9-11 to the war in Iraq in baseball.

"I say God bless America, God bless Miami, God bless Puerto Rico and all countries until there is peace in the world."

Here's another article on Delgado:
HYDE: Delgado exercises his rights and his mind

All of which has nothing to do with how Delgado will be perceived as a Marlin, but everything with how he perceives himself.

"I have passion for baseball and passion for other things, too," he said. "I want to win in baseball. That's what drives me, that's why I came here to the Marlins. But I can have other thoughts than just what to expect on a 2-0 pitch."

I like the article, but it did get me thinking about how long his welcome will last...I mean he's popular now because he is the new big signing--you don't watch your team throw tens of millions of dollars at someone and say, "He' s going to totally suck!" (Unless your team signs Russ Ortiz.) But this media and society in general have very stormy relationships with professional athletes and other entertainers of color, probably at least in part to the fact that they are some of the only people of color with a high-profile in the society. They like their Sammy Sosa when they flash the Sambo smile and do as expected, but the second they stop following orders, they are quickly vilified.

Look at the Williams sisters. Their sisterly love, their amazing exertions, sharp wits, calculated responses and talents that go far beyond tennis only fuel their detractors distaste for them. They "look like men" and their clothes are "laugable" (two comments from last week's discussion on ESPN Radio); yet how many athletes can design such beautiful piece of art to wear? How many will put their families before their profession?

Anyway, I wish Delgado luck. More than that I look up to him as a role model to respect and learn from. I hope that at least a few others do as well--not doing so will hurt them more than it hurts him.


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