After Gary Sheffield stated that the decrease in African-Americans in Major League Baseball was a result of Latinos being “easier to control”, Ozzie Guillen remarked that Latinos were being unfairly targeted in the steroid invesitgation. Though these two statements deal with different topics (player races vs. steroids), they both bring basebal’s racial relations into the spotlight. Sheffield and Guillen have never been shy about stating their opinions, but need to watch their step as one wrong word and the media hounds will be all over them. Today, Sheffield cleaned up his statements saying that he meant “nothing derogatory” toward Latin players in his previous remarks.
With Giambi possibly talking to Mitchell in his steroid investigation, Guillen’s comments will be scrutinized by reporters, especially if Giambi’s statements are leaked to the press. There is no way to know whether the White Sox’s manager’s point is true, but it may shake up racial conversation in the league. Latinos players are widely considered the top players in the league, and, if Major League Baseball is really trying to clean up the steroid scandal, then they would be going after the top players. The fact that the most of the top players are Latinos would then account for them being the main targets of the investigation.
Sheffield’s comments come after a report calculated that of all major league players last season, only 8.4% were African-American while 29.4% were Latin. This was the lowest percentage in twenty years for African-Americans and is the reason Sheffield made his comments. The idea that Latinos are “easier to control” seems very vague and it would not surprise me if players took exception to this. Whether these exceptions will play out on or off the baseball field is yet to be seen, but this is not the last we will hear about Sheffield’s comments. Though I am for players speaking their minds, there are certain political areas where players should be very careful, especially race. Sheffield made some accusations that had very little factual evidence, specifically his comment that he knew many African-American players who were not in the pros, yet better than many Latin players in the majors. If you are going to make a comment like that, you better have evidence to back it up. It is an insult to the Latin players as a whole, and I would be upset with the comments. With these statements, Sheffield has angered a large group of people and any more remarks like these could lead to a possible fine or suspension. He needs to shut up or be prepared to pay the consequences.