Yankee Fan Reacts To JBJ’s Catch With Bigotry

The Boston Red Sox played host to their arch-rival the New York Yankees this past weekend. The rivals split the four-game series 2-2 with the Red Sox still a few gamesYankee fan ahead of the Yankees. The series saw many highs and lows, including a blown save by Craig Kimbrel. The biggest highlight of the series though came during the fourth and final game Sunday night. In the top of the eighth, centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. robbed a home run from the Yankees’ Aaron Judge. While both Red Sox and Yankee fans behaved well in general during the series, one Yankee fan took to Instagram to voice his reaction to Bradley Jr.’s amazing catch. He wasn’t exactly subtle in his opinion about Bradley Jr., and it was caught by a Red Sox fan for all on Instagram to see.

Following the game, a Red Sox fan and Instagram user posted a snapshot to his storyline. The snapshot detailed a conversation between two Instagramers, one a Red Sox fan and another a Yankee fan. The Yankee-themed Instagram account has 12,000 followers while Red Sox-themed account has about 2300 followers. While the message in its entirety wasn’t available to read, the Red Sox fan mentioned how Jackie Bradley Jr. robbed Aaron Judge of a home run. In response, the Yankee fan wrote “Lucky catch from that n–ger coon.” The Red Sox fan screenshot the conversation with the tagline, “reeeeeal classy…trash Red Sox fans and then call JBJ that…” and posted it as an Instagram story. I reached out to both users for comment but neither responded. You can see the actual snapshot here.

Many of you who are reading this might wonder why I’m taking issue with this message. Some of you might shrug it off. Others might argue that it’s not worth talking about. Some might even say it’s stupid. But here’s why I think this is an important story to discuss.

Not Everyone Is Like This Yankee Fan, But They Exist Everywhere

Last April, the Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones found himself on the receiving end of racial taunts at Fenway Park. While most Red Sox fans reacted with anger and disgust, others carried on as if it was nothing. Some even said Jones needs to get over himself. But it’s that very attitude that enables this kind of behavior to begin with. People complain and say things like “I’m tired of everyone being so sensitive!” Others will say that they’re tired of these kinds of stories, racism will exist no matter what, free speech, etc. But here’s something people forget about. That’s a two way street.

Now, people are entitled to their beliefs, but keep in mind that others are entitled to respond. If someone isn’t ready to defend themselves without using racial slurs, then maybe he or she should just keep to themselves. More importantly, maybe they shouldn’t share their thoughts on social media.

Hey Yankee Fan, What You Post On Social Media Stays There Forever

It’s sad and pathetic that baseball has to suffer these fools who think it’s okay to bring their racist sentiments to the ballpark, or post them on social media. It’s as if they don’t notice the number 42 that hangs in every MLB ballpark. Jackie Robinson is the main reason why baseball could integrate in the first place. The amount of taunting he endured in his career led to his early death at 53. He sacrificed himself so others like him could play the great game. But here we are, seventy years later, and not only do we still have to listen to people throw the “n” word around, but even worse, we have to listen to them complain when someone calls them out on their bigotry. Again, two way street here.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Of course, not every Yankee fan shares these bigoted views. All of the Yankee fans I know don’t care what color skin someone is as long as they can play ball. But regardless of how you feel about this topic, I think we can all agree that it’s totally not okay to use racial slurs to describe someone like Jackie Bradley Jr.

This isn’t about being politically correct. This isn’t about being sensitive. And it’s not even about trying to pick a petty fight. It’s about calling fans out on their racism, whether it’s at the ballpark or on social media. Of course, there’s some issues that we can hotly debate all day long, like whether to play “God Bless America” at ballgames. Those are heathy debates where both sides can make valid points. But how do you defend someone who wrote those comments about Jackie Bradley Jr.? You can argue that Bradley Jr. isn’t deserving of a Gold Glove (although that’s hard to argue). You can argue that Bradley should spend more time on his hitting (true). But who in their right mind is going to argue that it’s okay for a Yankee fan to call him a “n–ger coon?” Yes, I could ignore it, but that’s hard to do when it’s posted to Instagram.

It’s About Defending One Of Our Own

I have no doubt that some of my readers are going to slam me for bringing this up. But before they do so, ask yourself a question. Am I angry about this blog post, or am I more angry about what some Yankee fan said about our centerfielder and how he said it? Who are you going to defend? A bigoted Yankee Fan? Or Jackie Bradley Jr.?

I leave you with a quote from a great Boston-themed movie The Boondock Saints, “Now, we must all fear evil men. But, there is another kind of evil which we must fear most … and that is the indifference of good men!”

Don’t be indifferent to this reality.

Without Ortiz, Red Sox Lost Without a Leader

It’s been nine months since David Ortiz retired from the Red Sox. Since then, his former teammates have done their best to make up for his loss. The Red Sox currently hold first place and might run away with the AL East. But it’s clear to everyone that it’s not the same without Big Papi. Seeing the Red Sox lost without a leader hurts the team. If a clear leader doesn’t emerge soon the Red Sox will be like a battleship without a rudder.

There isn’t anyone on the Red Sox right now who has the qualities of a leader. HanleyRed Sox lost Ramirez can’t lead. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are too young. Chris Sale is too much of a loose cannon. Dustin Pedrioa, despite his leadership qualities,  doesn’t have what he needs to rally his teammates. Pedrioa comes off as being too strict, not knowing when to relax and have fun. Additionally, his response to the post-slide Manny Machado incident in Baltimore last April didn’t win him any friends.

Red Sox Lost Without Ortiz, But How Do You Replace Him?

You don’t.

David Ortiz delivered on and off the field in ways that would intimidate most other ballplayers. He was a clutch hitter who knew how to drive in runs. He knew exactly what words to say in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Plus Ortiz knew how to handle himself with grace and agility. Even if Betts, Bogaerts, and Bradley Jr. hit 60 homers and won a bunch of MVPs, they’d still stand in Ortiz’s shadow. They haven’t had the chance to experience what Ortiz endured throughout his career

Red Sox aren’t leaderless. It’s that Ortiz left such a enormous void that no one will fill it for  a long time. The problem is that nothing is collectively taking its place. Fans and players alike notice the vacuum Ortiz’s absence has created and while the standings don’t show it, the lack of enthusiasm at Fenway this season is overwhelming. Red Sox fans are happy to root for the team, but there’s no one who can bring us together like Ortiz could.

Red Sox Nation Loves To Hate John Farrell

Look at any comment thread beneath a Red Sox article and you can see how fans love to hate John Farrell. They call for his ouster when the Red Sox are losing. They demand his head when they lose badly. Red Sox Nation is even lukewarm towards him when the Red Sox are winning. So why all the hate?

I’ll admit I’m one of those writers who has gone back and forth on Farrell. Some days I’llhate john farrell defended his honor. There’s no doubt Red Sox Nation gets worked up sometimes and says irrational things. Then there’s other days when I read about low morale in the Red Sox clubhouse and assume Farrell’s the source. But is Farrell a consistent manager or do fans and writers just love to hate him?

Bill “Spaceman” Lee once shared his opinion about fickle Boston fans. The pilgrims came here from England and decided to settle in this area where it gets bitter cold in the winter and the snow is often brutal. Facing this hard weather year and year has turned Bostonians into a moody brood who love to hate, and hate to love. So is Farrell a victim of this New England attitude or is he really that bad at managing?

Do Fans Hate John Farrell Or Just Every Red Sox Manager?

Farrell led the Red Sox to a World Series win in 2013, followed by two last-place seasons in 2014 and 2015. The Red Sox won a playoff spot last year but it was more of a limp into the post-season than a sprint. But was that Farrell’s fault? It’s no secret that injuries plague the Red Sox, especially their pitching staff. Farrell did, however, make some questionable decisions last year when he continued to insert Clay Buchholz after it was clear he didn’t have what it took to win ballgames. Then there’s his questionable use of inexperienced pinch hitters.

So do fans love to hate John Farrell? Well, I’ll admit that this writer does. He’s an easy target the same way a teacher is for students when they get poor grades. Is it because he or she is a bad teacher, or is it because the students didn’t study hard enough? You don’t have to look far to find Red Sox players who don’t hustle as much as they should (cough cough Pablo Sandoval). So is that Farrell’s fault? No.

But should Farrell do more to motivate his players? Yes. If not, it’ll eventually cost him his job.

The Pablo Sandoval Nightmare Is Over

The Boston Red Sox designated Pablo Sandoval for assignment on Friday, July 14th, marking the end to a long and dismal performance by the third baseman. This move means the Red Sox will have to swallow the remaining $49 million left on Sandoval’s contract. That $49 million will be the second largest dead contract in MLB history, behind Josh Hamilton. While this is bad news for Dave Dombrowski, it’s music to thepablo sandoval nightmare ears of Red Sox Nation. The Long Pablo Sandoval nightmare is finally over.

Many wondered if the five-year, $95 million contract the Red Sox offered Sandoval was too excessive. He played well in San Francisco, helping the Giants win multiple World Series titles. After a dismal 2015 debut season though the Red Sox started having second thoughts. His .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI in 2015 concerned many. Starting the 2016 season with a .000 batting average in three games, followed by season-ending surgery, concerned everyone. It wasn’t just Sandoval’s poor performance at the plate though.

The Sandoval Nightmare Was Self-Created

Posting to Instagram during a June 2015 game caught him the ire of management and the front office. Reporting to spring training in 2016 overweight made him the subject of ridicule. What little respect he still had going into the 2016 season quickly evaporated when his belt buckle exploded during a game in Toronto. Sandoval soon went on the DL for the remainder of the season. While a much slimmer Sandoval returned for the 2017 season, injuries and apathy soon got the better of him. Finally, on July 14th, the Red Sox ditched Sandoval after hitting .212 with four home runs and 12 RBI in 32 games.

Sandoval was a problem for many reasons. He clearly didn’t like it here in Boston. His effort was mediocre at best. His tepid focus and dedication hurt the team. But despite the huge amount of money the Red Sox still owe him, some fans think it’s worth getting rid of him.

I certainly do.

Ballparks Must Stop Playing “God Bless America”

There’s two songs that everyone expects to hear when they go to a ballgame. The first, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” sets the tone of the game. Then there’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” played during the seventh inning stretch. These two songs are staples of the great game of baseball. Ballparks must stop playing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch. Its purpose went stagnant years ago.

There’s a few reasons why ballparks must stop playing “God Bless America” at ballgames.Ballparks Must Stop First, it’s too redundant. Now I love being an American. I’m thankful to God that I was born an American. But how many times do I have to stand up and pledge my allegiance? Whose approval do I need? And why of all places should it be at a ballpark? With politics dividing our nation in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Civil War, the last thing we need is a song that puts people on the spot if they don’t stand up and place their hands over their hearts in the seventh inning (I stopped doing it months ago). I’m not at a ballgame to prove that I love my country. In fact, I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. That’s what makes America great. We have the freedom to express ourselves anyway we see fit as long as we’re not infringing on the rights of others. You love “God Bless America”? Hey, great! It’s your right. But don’t tell me that I have to love it too.

The Man Who Wrote The Song Didn’t Even Like It

Irving Berlin wrote the song in 1918 and thought it too depressing, so he shoved it in a drawer for 20 years. He dusted it off when World War II broke out and the rest is history. To clarify, Berlin didn’t think the song sufficied so he put it away. Berlin released it only when a radio show host asked him for a song about America she could play on her show.

Sixty years later, baseball parks appropriately started playing “God Bless America” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. It was a song many Americans sang in unity. It comforted Americans during a very dark time in our nation’s history. But now it’s a stagnant remnant and feels too much like an obnoxious “in your face” attempt to prove one’s patriotism. Gersh Huntsman of The New York Daily News stated, “The song still embodies great things about America, but also our worst things: self-righteousness, forced piety, earnest self-reverence, foam.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The song feels so much like a third wheel on a date. You don’t really want it there but you don’t want to be mean and ignore it. It doesn’t have to be there to begin with. And what you had to start was good enough. I’m talking about you and “The Star Spangled-Banner.” I feel proud to stand up and remove my hat for our National Anthem. I even get angry when I hear fans talking during the song at Fenway. “The Star-Spangled Banner” has a very significant meaning to Fenway Park. In fact, the tradition of playing the National Anthem started at Fenway Park. 

The Star-Spangled Banner Suffices

If you’re a Red Sox season ticket holder like me, then you’ve heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” hundreds of times. Not only does it mark the time when fans rise to show respect for the colors and appreciation for America, but it marks the beginning of the game! So why do we need “God Bless America”?

Let’s take a look at a few numbers while we contemplate the answer. Sheryl Kaskowitz’s 2013 book, God Bless America: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song, states that about 61% of baseball fans would like to see the song removed. Her research also found that 83.8% of “very liberal” people dislike the song, while 20.5% of “very conservative” people” have a problem with it. This statistics highlight the divide and potential for causing conflicts at ballgame.

Going back to my original point, many people see the song as a litmus test for one’s patriotism. Fans who see others not standing for the song in the seventh inning might feel obligated to jeer them. “Why don’t you stand for God Bless America, huh? What are you not American?” Again, no one needs to prove anything to anyone at a ballgame except for your love for the home team. People go to ballgames to get away from politics, religion, work, etc. The last thing anyone needs is a drunken fan looking for an excuse to fight. The Yankees are coming to town this week so we’ll have enough reasons to fight as it is. We don’t need any more reasons.

Ballparks Must Stop Playing “God Bless America”

Now, I’m not for removing any and all things that offend people. Lord knows I love eating hot dogs in front of the PETA protestors in Harvard Square. That’s not what I’m getting at though. Instead, what I’m trying to say is that not only does the song contribute to the divided of the nation because it obligates citizens to unnecessarily prove their patriotism, but it’s unnecessary to begin with. It’s a song that’s overstayed its welcome. Fenway Park plays the National Anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and “Sweet Caroline.” The first two songs are as American as apple pie. So ballparks must stop forcing “God Bless America” down baseball fans’ throats. The first two are more than perfect.

Ballparks must stop playing “God Bless America.” Baseball already has two songs soaked in tradition that people on both sides of the political divide love. So let’s remove that third wheel. Sit back, sing the National Anthem and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and enjoy the game.

Your Guide to Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown

The Baseball Hall of Fame will induct five new members on Sunday, July 30th, 2017 in Cooperstown, New York. The festivities are set to begin on July 28th and run through the 31st. Like the All-Star game and the World Series, Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is something every baseball fan looks forward to each year. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are planning on attending the festivities.

Finding Parking Is Tough

Parking is going to be tough. Cooperstown has a population of about 2,500 people. LastBaseball Hall year about 45-50,000 people came to see Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. get inducted. You do the math. So if you are planning on coming it’s best to get into town early enough to find a spot. By early I mean 6am if you want to get a good spot. The later you are the farther you’ll have to walk from where you parked. We’re talking miles.

Finding A Hotel Is Even Tougher

Hotel and accommodations. If you didn’t book a reservation the week after last year’s induction weekend ended then you’re not going to find anything close to town. I booked a room seven miles outside of town the week after last year. Two months later they cancelled on me. By that time I had to look elsewhere and the best I could find was something 45 minutes away. That was in August. That’s how fast it fills up.

But Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend Is Worth It!

If you venture to Cooperstown for the weekend you won’t regret it. Every year there’s about three dozen or so Hall of Famers who do autograph shows throughout town. Prices vary but they’re not too expensive, depending on who you want. Dennis Eckersley, Pete Rose, and Goose Gossage will run you about $40-60 for a signed ball. Others like Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson demand up to $300 for a single autograph. If you Google “autograph signings Cooperstown 2017” you’ll find a list of companies sponsoring these signings. They list their prices and sell tickets in advance. I’ve already purchased about eight so I won’t have to stand in line as long. I suggest you do the same.

Non-Baseball Hall of Famers Are The Highlight

Last year as I walked down Main Street I met former Negro Leaguers, old ladies who played in the All-American Girls Professional League in the 1940s, and former MLBers who didn’t quite have the numbers to get inducted. THESE people are the ones you want to stop and talk to. In addition to charging very little (if at all) for their autograph (maybe $10 at the most), they tell the best stories. The original Frank Thomas, who played for the Mets in their first year in 1962, loves chatting with fans. Pedro Sierra, who played in the Negro Leagues in the early 1950s, signed a ball for me in the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen on a baseball. George Foster, the NL MVP in 1977, has a great sense of humor. These are the people you want to seek out and talk to. They’ll chat with you all day!

In addition to the Baseball Hall of Fame itself, check out the many stores open all weekend. You’ll see a lot of junk but you’ll also see a lot of neat things. Yastrzemski Sports in the center of town has a treasure trove of baseball cards old and new. Across the street is Mickey’s, another great spot if you need a good baseball cap. And don’t forget the great places to eat up and down Main Street.

See you there! (Don’t forget sunscreen!)