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CC Sabathia on being Black in baseball

In an except from his new book, Sabathia talks a little about old school baseball and being Black in the modern game. There’s some interesting stuff in here to unpack and it’s worth posting but try to check your biases at the door. This is Sabathia’s perspective on the game, “right” or “wrong”.


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That's an interesting read.  I always like reading perspectives like his.  To see how the game changed, on many fronts, even during his career is interesting.  We know its been happening, but to hear the inside perspective is interesting.

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"With my first pitch in the bottom of the sixth I aimed straight at the front leg of their first hitter, Jesús Sucre. Nailed him good, just above the left knee. I’ve got nothing against Sucre personally. It was Cash I was pointing to and yelling at when the home plate umpire threw me out of the game: “That’s for you, b—-!” They were trying to punk us. When the Rays came out on the field, pushing and shoving and acting tough, I yelled, “You got something to say about me hitting Bauers when he could have got out of the way, come out here and talk about it!” None of them said a f—ing word.

Did I know at the time that getting tossed could cost me $500,000 because I would end the season two innings short of a bonus in my contract? Sure. I didn’t care. Did I think about the fact that this might be the way I left the field for the final time – because there was no guarantee I’d get a start in the playoffs, and my contract was coming to an end? Nope. It wouldn’t have been the way I’d choose to go out, but if that was my exit, it would have been fine with me. Because you always protect your boys.

You need to keep protecting them until your opponents get the message — and until your own guys understand what’s up. The way the Rays tried to tell it – “Oh, we got young pitchers, they’re just trying to throw inside, sometimes it gets away from them” — well, our guys are young, too. They’re talented, but they’re young. They don’t know what it looks like when a pitcher is deliberately throwing at a batter. They wonder, “Oh, did he do it on purpose, blah, blah, blah?” After the game, after Kittredge almost killed Romine, Didi talked to guys he knows on the Rays, asking if they threw at Romine on purpose. Get the f— out of here! I know what that s— looks like. People thought I’d lost my mind when I hit Sucre, got ejected, and started screaming at the Tampa Bay dugout. Nope. Oh, I was mad, but I knew exactly what I was doing.

People call that kind of thing old-school baseball; they mean it as a compliment, and I appreciate it. Those same people complain about guys doing bat flips after hitting a big home run. Bat flips don’t bother me. You beat me? Fine. Celebrate. You’re worried about the guy flipping his bat? Worry about throwing a better f—ing pitch! If you don’t want to see someone pimp a home run, don’t give it up. And when I beat you, when I strike you out with the bases loaded, I get to dance and yell. If you don’t want to see me yelling and cussing as I walk off the mound, don’t strike out. Simple rules. We’re not showing each other up. We’re enjoying the moment. Baseball is boring too much of the time. The game needs to change, and I don’t mean using more data to shift guys on the infield. I’m talking about the way people say, “He played the game the right way” when what they mean is “He played it the white way.” What they mean is they don’t like the flair that Black and Hispanic guys bring to the field."

Wow. So childish. He really loses me about throwing at a batter. Nothing honorable about it. Totally and always, unacceptable. I agree with him about celebration, though. All celebration should be embraced.

But it isn't, and has never been, white or black. It has been celebrators and non-celebrators, regardless of color. Josh Donaldson is an example.

This makes me not like Pineda much, at all. And I hear what he is saying. I just disagree. The most cowardly thing that happens on a baseball field is when a pitcher purposely throws at a batter. That is assault, pure and simple, and it is way way overdue to start calling it that and it should not be protected behavior as "part of the game." Men being babies, that is what it is. Old school? So was owning people, whether it was as a servant, or men "owning" their wife. And that was never ever acceptable either. And neither is throwing a ball at someone at 90+ mph, and then gloating about it.

But then, even on TD, it seems to be acceptable to at least half if not more.


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For the record, I also groaned over the section about throwing at batters. If the story is accurate, the Rays sure as hell shouldn’t have done it and Sabathia definitely should not have responded. That’s a childish escalation that can all too easily end up with someone injured. 

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