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How Ozzie Guillen Is Crying Wolf About Racism In Baseball

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How Ozzie Guillen Is Crying Wolf About Racism In Baseball
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Ozzie Guillen has never shown any fear about expressing his opinion, no matter how controversial.

So it should come as no surprise that Ozzie Guillen decided to give his two cents about what he believes is racism in baseball.

However, Ozzie Guillen is completely wrong in his analysis of the situation. 

Here is what Ozzie said concerning the treatment of Asian and Latino baseball players.

"Very bad. I say, why do we have Japanese interpreters and we don't have a Spanish one. I always say that. Why do they have that privilege and we don't? Don't take this wrong, but they take advantage of us. We bring a Japanese player and they are very good and they bring all these privileges to them. We bring a Dominican kid … go to the minor leagues, good luck. Good luck. And it's always going to be like that. It's never going to change. But that's the way it is."

Let's take the second half of the statement first.

The reason kids from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela, or other Latin American countries (except Cuba) go to the minors has to do with the age at which they are signed.

Most of these players are signed at 16,17, and 18 years old. At that age, those kids belong in the minor leagues.

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That's no insult to their abilities; it's just how baseball works.

When these kids are signed, they are not ready for big league play.

When players like Orlando Hernandez or Jose Contreras are signed, they do not get placed in the minors because they are more developed and are deemed Major League ready.

Asian players do not come to America the same way. Asian players go through the minor leagues in Japan and then go on to play professional baseball in Asia.

When they come over to America, they are in their mid to late twenties and are established big league players.

The Nippon Baseball League and the MLB also agreed on having Major League clubs pay posting fees. Posting fees are bids made by MLB teams in order to get the chance to negotiate with a player.

This idea is very similar to transfer fees in football. That means that the players MLB teams get from Asia are the cream of the crop.

They aren't going to waste posting fee dollars on players that are not ready to make an impact on the Major League level.

Another reason that Asian players coming over get paid is the exposure teams get to Asian markets.

When big-time stars from the Nippon League go to the United States, they do not just bring an impact on the field.

They bring in major dollars from Japan. One of the reasons for posting fees was the lowered ratings for the Nippon League and growing ratings for MLB telecasts.

Ichiro made the Seattle Mariners the most popular baseball team in Japan. In 2003, Matsui's arrival to New York brought immense revenue from Japan.

One could see Japanese companies advertising at Yankee Stadium because they knew how popular the Yankees were in Japan.

This foreign revenue increases the value of Asian players to MLB franchises and since there is no salary cap, baseball players have the ability to be paid the amount the club believes they are worth.

Also, a Japanese player can not have this financial impact if he is in the minor leagues. 

It's is because of their age, ability, development, and their marketability that Asian players do not start their MLB careers in the minors like Latino players, not racism.

The first half of Ozzie's comment is misguided as well. When Latino players come through a Major League team's development system, they are provided English speaking courses.

Before they ever step on a Major League field, they have the opportunity to learn English.

Asian players do not go through MLB developmental systems.

They are developed by Asian teams to play in Asian leagues. The Nippon League clubs are not worried about preparing their players to play in America (actually they would rather they stay in Japan).

Asian leagues are not televised in the Western Hemisphere, so there are no endorsement deals that Asian players lose because they can not speak English.

The second problem in Guillen's opinion about interpreters is the makeup of the clubhouse.

In the MLB, almost 30 percent of the players are Latin American. Every team in the MLB has multiple Hispanic players. Not only do the Major League teams have a plethora of Hispanics, but Latinos are make up a significant portion of minor league teams as well.

So when a 17-year-old Dominican is brought stateside, he will be surrounded by other players who speak his language and understand his culture at every level from Low Single-A Ball to the MLB.

In the large majority of clubhouses, there are players who can speak English and Spanish.

They, in effect, serve as interpreters so that players and management can communicate. Major League teams even hire coaches who can speak Spanish so language because less of a barrier.

When an Asian player comes to the MLB, it is not the same.

First, there are few Asians in the MLB. When guys like Matsui, Ichiro, or Nomo are brought into the United States, there is nobody in the clubhouse can speak their language or understand the culture from which they came.

When the Red Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka from the Seibu Lions, they made sure they brought another Japanese player.

Remember that Hideki Okajima was not brought over to be a major part of the bullpen. Initially, he was to serve as Daisuke's friend in a new land. 

Unlike Latin America, there is no universal language in Asia.

For example, having Hideki Matsui on the roster did not mean that the Yankees did not need an interpreter for Chien-Ming Wang.

Most Japanese players are not going to be able to have a conversation with a Taiwanese player, let alone help them communicate to other in the clubhouse.

Without these interpreters, Asian players would have no leg to stand on when it came to working and acclimating to their new environment.

Ozzie Guillen needs to realize that the MLB's treatment of Asian and Latino players has nothing to do with race. All that Ozzie Guillen did by making this statement is to earn a sit down with Bud Selig, not expose some racist element of MLB.

 

 

 

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