Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is Drew Goodman Guilty Of Racism?

Hate to come out the box like this, but I suppose it's the things that seem like the greatest injustices that move people to act. In my case, the Fox Sports Rocky Mountain broadcast of the Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs game last night; Tuesday, May 18; has made me act.

The worst charge that can be levelled against someone is the charge of racism. Not only is racism itself absolutely inexcusable, but a charge of racism is indefensible. In the face of the charge of racism, ANYTHING a person does or says only makes things seem worse and makes them seem like MORE of a racist. So I will absolutely NOT make the claim that Drew Goodman, Colorado Rockies TV play-by-play guy, is a racist. Rather, I will simply say that things that he consistently says during broadcasts of Colorado Rockies games absolutely demand that the question be asked: "Is Drew Goodman Guilty Of Racism?" I will then provide a series of actions Goodman can take that will prove that he is NOT guilty of racism.

Three Reasons That One Might Ask "Is Drew Goodman Guilty Of Racism?"

Here are the three things I have noticed about Drew Goodman during his tenure as Rockies play-by-play announcer that make me ask that unfortunate question:

1. Drew Goodman offers unnecessary praise of white players, over-estimating specific players' abilities to contribute to the team's success, over-emphasizing the positive contributions they make to a game he is broadcasting, and superciliously commenting on their families and personal lives.

2. Drew Goodman is reticent to criticize white players, often ignoring their failures, yet is never above open criticism of black and Latin players.

3. Drew Goodman consistently uses what I feel is subtle, perhaps even subconscious, code for racism in that he often comments on the great "work ethic," or positive work ethic-related characteristics, of white players while rarely, if ever, making the same comments related to black or Latin players.

Goodman's Comments on May 18, 2010

While I have noticed the three above tendencies of Drew Goodman for years, it has only been recently that I've been sharing my opinions with friends. Having done so, my friends have begun to take similar notice, encouraging me to blog about that (and other topics). So although I have some specific memories of comments Goodman has made prior to this season, it's only been this season that I've been paying particular attention to his comments related to my feelings that it must be asked if Drew Goodman is guilty of racism.

In fact, I've even always tried to couch my comments to friends about Drew Goodman by saying, "I don't think he's a racist, but...". In fact, I've always tried to explain away what I feel is Goodman's obvious favoritism of white players by saying that perhaps he feels more of a kinship with them due to language, communication, or cultural issues. Recently, having listened to my opinion and watched Colorado Rockies broadcasts on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain with an eye on Goodman's comments related to the race of the players on which he is commenting, my friends have begun saying, "Why do you say you DON'T think Drew Goodman is a racist? Listen to his comments!" So I have been paying an even closer amount of attention to Goodman's comments this season, with regards to the race of the player on which he is commenting.

Take Goodman's comments during last night's game. One of Goodman's favorite players, Rockies second baseman Clint Barmes (who is white), comes to bat with two men on and two out in the second inning. Barmes, who is consistently among the least productive, offensively, full-time players in all of baseball when excluding catchers, does what Rockies fans consistently see him do but Drew Goodman never points out - Barmes grounds out to shortstop, ending the inning, and failing to deliver much-needed runs for the Rockies. Does Goodman comment on Barmes's repeated failure to deliver in a big spot? Nope. Goodman makes this comment as the inning ends and Fox Sports Rocky Mountain goes to commercial: "Barmes, who always goes 100%, almost beat that throw!"

Later, with no outs in the bottom of the 8th and the Cubs clinging to a 1-run lead, the Cubs' Tyler Colvin attempts to steal second base. When Rockies catcher Paul Phillips's throw skips past shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the ball goes all the way into centerfield because Clint Barmes - the same Barmes who Goodman told us "always goes 100%" - didn't hustle to back up the throw. Although Goodman spent several innings criticizing the poor defense of the Venezuelan Melvin Mora during a game a couple of weeks ago, he was unable to criticize not only the poor defense of Barmes last night, but didn't say a peep about Barmes's poor EFFORT! After Barmes's failure to back up second led to an additional base for Colvin, all Goodman could offer was "you hate to see that."

Then later in the same inning, with Cubs runners at both second and third and only one out and the Rockies infield drawn in, the Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome pops out to Barmes at second, with Barmes hustling from his drawn in position to short center to make a nice catch. But it was exactly that - a nice catch. Nearly every major league middle infielder would have made the same play nearly every time. Goodman, however, begins fawning over the play, and Barmes's effort on said play, with apparent amnesia about how it was Barmes's laziness that allowed a runner to reach third in the first place. In a pretty obvious attempt to bolster his claim that Barmes's hustle caused the catch to be made on that play, Goodman immediately begins goading his partner, former infielder Jeff Huson, into complementing Barmes. Rather than simply allowing Huson to comment on his own, or even asking Huson about that play, Goodman immediately bleats out a demand that Huson tell the viewer why the play was so difficult.

And of course, during the course of the game, Goodman had to tell the viewers that Barmes had many friends and family members at the game in Chicago, since it's near Barmes's home in Indiana. Was pointing that out enough? Nope. Goodman had to unnecessarily add that Barmes comes from "a great family."

What Last Night's Comments Mean

The examples provided in regards to last night's game, on their own, really don't demonstrate anything. But taken together, there are three major points that could demonstrate something nefarious, or even racist, about Goodman's attitude.

1. By pointing out that Clint Barmes "always goes 100%" when he hustles to first on a routine groundout to shortstop, Goodman is implying that there are SOME major league players - presumably even some Rockies players - who do NOT always give 100% effort. Who are those players, Drew?

2. When Barmes's lack of effort allows a baserunner an extra base, does Drew step up to point that out? Nope. Apparently, Goodman only points out that Barmes "always goes 100%" when Barmes is hustling, not on the plays where he doesn't hustle. Further, with the comment about Barmes's effort having been made earlier in the SAME GAME, wouldn't a comment about Barmes's lack of effort actually be warranted here?

3. What is the point of telling the viewer that Barmes comes from a "great family." Is this relevant to the broadcast? To the Rockies' on-field performance? Or is this just another way of puffing up the credentials of the white Clint Barmes, since it's nearly impossible at this stage to defend Barmes's on-field performance?

Why I Feel The Comments On Work Ethic Are So Telling

When Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Al Campanis made his despicable comments about how blacks did not "have some of the necessities" to be an on-field manager or general manager of a baseball team in 1987, he was summarily dismissed from his job. The implication Campanis appeared to make (and that cost him his job, although he later attempted to explain away his comments) was that blacks seeking managerial jobs weren't smart enough for those positions. Clearly, in 1987, it was unacceptable to say that blacks weren't smart enough for any job, but apparently Campanis thought it was OK to imply it. An old man (Campanis was in his 70's at the time) a generation ago had his career ended for making a veiled comment about the innate abilities of a minority group compared to white folks, yet as we all know, racism is still alive and well today... even if the rhetoric, particularly the veiled rhetoric, of racism has changed.

Today, no one would dare publicly claim, or even imply, that any race was mentally inferior to another, as Campanis did 23 years ago. However, to me, the 2010 corollary to that sentiment is the belief that there are ethnic groups who do not have the same "work ethic" that white folks have. As our nation deals with the unfortunate repurcussions of the desultory immigration law recently passed in Arizona, we are bombarded with more and more sound bites of people who, I feel, harbor racist views. A common refrain from this group is that immigrants, often called "those people," come to the United States of America, often called "here," and obtain governmental benefits without contributing to the system that pays those benefits, often stated as "refuse to work" or "don't pay taxes." While no one would claim that any race was mentally inferior to another in 2010, there are people who would claim, or even imply, that there are ethnicities who don't have the same inherent work ethic as whites, which is simply absurd.

In other words, I believe a code for a belief in racial inferiority in 2010 is the phrase "work ethic" and the ancillary characteristics that work ethic implies.

Again, I'm not saying that Drew Goodman harbors these feelings, or is consciously using these code words. But I am saying that his comments demand that the question be asked, particularly given his penchant for point out the work ethic of white players and rarely, if ever, pointing it out in black or Latin players. And he is a YOUNG man in a NEW generation making these comments, totally different than Al Campanis, to boot!

Earlier this year, when the Rockies played a home series vs the Philadelphia Phillies, Goodman went into great detail about how the addition of Roy Halladay, who is white, to the Phillies' roster had provided such a great example of "work ethic" to other Phillies players. By pointing out that Halladay is "never just sitting at his locker" but is always watching tape or working out, as Goodman pointed out, there is an obvious implication that some major league players do NOT have a great work ethic. But, again, Goodman didn't provide any examples of the other side of his argument.

What Goodman Can Do To Demonstrate He's Not Guilty Of Racism

There are three direct things that Drew Goodman can do to demonstrate that he's not guilty of racism, which I certainly hope he's not. Here they are:

1. Objectively criticize Clint Barmes, who is an obvious offensive failure and is a hindrance to the Rockies at this point. Goodman is not afraid to criticize other players, particularly Melvin Mora (who deserved the criticism), but the same "courtesy" must also apply to white players, especially Barmes.

2. Comment on a lack of effort by players where appropriate, if comments about "work ethic" are going to part of his on-air commentary, without regards to the player's race. Especially after pointing out that Barmes "always goes 100%", Goodman must prove his racial objectivity by telling his Fox Sports Rocky Mountain viewers when a player does NOT "go 100%." Similarly, point out hustle and "work ethic" from players who are NOT white, when appropriate.

3. Share family information about players objectively, without commentary about which players come from a "good family" unless he is willing to point out players who he feels do NOT come from a "good family." Or, better yet, explain the difference between a "good family" and a "bad family" when making comments about players' families.

Comments are welcome.