(Original title: Sammy Sosa, Victim?)
By Nicholas Stix
Middle American News
On June 3, Chicago Cubs superstar Sammy Sosa hit a routine ground-out that had extraordinary consequences. His bat broke, exposing an illegal, cork-filled center. "Corking" makes a bat lighter, so that a hitter can swing it faster. Bat speed generates power, and Sosa, with 505 career home runs and a record three seasons with 60 or more homers, was assumed to be a premier power hitter.
When previous sluggers were caught doctoring their bats, they were publicly humiliated and suspended. In the most recent incident, in 1994, Cleveland Indian Albert Belle was suspended for eight games.
But things have gone differently for Sosa. He refused to admit to what he'd done, instead concocting a ludicrous story, whereby he'd never before used a corked bat, and had accidentally taken to the plate a bat he only used to "entertain" fans during batting practice. Instead of taking his punishment - an eight game suspension - like a man, Sosa appealed it, eventually getting a reduction to seven games. And other Latin players have aggressively defended Sosa, who is from the Dominican Republic, insisting that he was a victim of "racism," who would not have been criticized, were he a white superstar.
Tell that to relief pitcher John Rocker, who was never caught cheating, yet whom minority groups sought to run out of baseball, when he made politically incorrect remarks about immigrants and welfare mothers in New York, in 1999.
Ever smiling when the camera is rolling, Sammy Sosa has for years been protected from public scrutiny. However, San Jose Mercury News sportswriter Skip Bayless describes Sosa as "surly" when the camera is off. The blatant racism of so many Latin fans has similarly been ignored by the media.
In 1998, when Sosa and Mark McGwire were both chasing Roger Maris' single-season home-run record of 61*, newspapers published vitriolic letters from Latin fans, who insisted, with undisguised racial hatred, that McGwire (who bested Sosa, in setting a new record with 70 homers), was getting easy pitches to hit, as if pitchers were trying to help him beat the dark-brown Sosa. But in contrast to the response to racist letter writers that dogged Hank Aaron during his mid-1970s pursuit of Babe Ruth's career home run record, no journalists or politicians drew any lessons regarding racial intolerance from the letters attacking McGwire.
Indeed, sportswriters jumped on the anti-white bandwagon, celebrating Sosa, as if he, and not McGwire, were the home run king, and casting aspersions on McGwire's accomplishments. McGwire had used a legal dietary supplement, androstenedione, that was permitted by Major League Baseball. Besides, McGwire had always been Bunyanesque. He entered the league at 6'5" and 215 pounds, hit a record 49 home runs as a rookie, and weighed 250-255 pounds when he broke Maris' home run record. By contrast, the 6'0" Sosa had begun his major league career a lithe 165 pounds, and hit only 37 home runs his first four seasons combined. In recent years, Sosa has played at 225 pounds, and has long been suspected of using illegal, anabolic steroids, but has largely been given a pass by the media.
And yet, Sosa is a welcome contrast to many other Latin players, such as pitcher "El Duque" (Orlando Hernandez), who come to America to make millions of dollars, yet who -- not unlike millions of Hispanic immigrants, and increasingly American-born Hispanics -- increasingly refuse to learn the language of the land to which they owe everything, which also means separating themselves from most of their teammates.
At least, Sosa learned English.
Sammy Sosa's two most vociferous defenders have been retired, Cuban-born slugger Jose Canseco, and Dominican superstar pitcher Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox. Imitating the style of black race hustlers, Canseco and Martinez have attacked American whites as "racist" for criticizing Sosa's cheating.
Canseco is engaging in a form of racial demagoguery that is increasingly common among white Hispanics, who are notorious for priding themselves -- among other Hispanics, in Spanish -- on their whiteness. However, in public, the same proudly white Hispanics declare themselves "persons of color," and shamelessly race-bait non-Hispanic whites.
Martinez, who is brown, has been Sosa's most aggressive defender, suggesting that he would assault a writer critical of Sosa, and demanding that baseball apologize to Sosa.
Pedro Martinez was once a team-oriented player. At the end of the 2002 season, however, he announced unilaterally that he would skip his last scheduled start. He thereby hurt his team, showered contempt on manager Grady Little, and may even have cost himself his fourth Cy Young Award as the American League's best pitcher. Indeed, some observers have argued that Martinez' racist outbursts regarding Sosa expressed nothing but his bitterness over not winning the 2002 Cy Young Award.
Latin major league baseball players and Latin fans seem increasingly to see themselves as representing a separate team of their own.