Dayn Perry has a post up on CBS Sports, responding to recent comments from Bud Norris in a USA Today piece where he talks about the current "culture shock" around MLB clubhouses, and the differences between many white and internationally-born players. I'll get into it after the jump.
Norris (emphasis mine):
“I think it's a culture shock... This is America's game. This is America's pastime, and over the last 10-15 years we've seen a very big world influence in this game, which we as a union and as players appreciate. We're opening this game to everyone that can play. However, if you're going to come into our country and make our American dollars, you need to respect a game that has been here for over a hundred years, and I think sometimes that can be misconstrued. There are some players that have antics, that have done things over the years that we don't necessarily agree with."
If that wasn't cringe-worthy, I don't know what is.
This isn't the first time Bud Norris has come out to the media and put his foot in his mouth -- calling the team that just traded him (Houston) the "outcast of MLB" -- or even the second -- criticizing Jon Singleton and his agent for signing a club-friendly deal with the Astros -- so these comments aren't totally unexpected.
In each of the three cases -- including today's story about how, basically, Bud doesn't like Latin American players celebrating when they hit HRs against him -- Norris assumes the role of Player's Union Mouth Piece, speaking from a perspective that he feels represents something significantly larger than himself.
From Dayn Perry:
"To a large extent, this boils down to pitchers wanting no hint of celebration on the part of hitters when, say, a home run is hit. This is an established "code," and we see it played out pretty much daily. It's a curious thing, though, and it betrays a lack of accountability on the part of pitchers like Norris. If you don't want hitters to celebrate home runs, then don't allow home runs. If a hitter beats you, then maybe you shouldn't try to dictate how he reacts to it. He did, after all, beat you. You shouldn't be able to impose terms of surrender on the victor."
Just as damning as what Norris says, sticking up for baseball's old guard, is the way he says it. The we're in "We're opening this game to everyone that can play," comes across like something you might have heard around the time Jackie Robinson entered the big leagues. That's only reinforced in the next line when he mentions "[coming] into our country and [making] our American dollars," as if there should be some sort of entitlement in a purely meritocratic, talent-based sport. These damn foreigners keep coming into OUR country and stealing OUR jobs and OUR women, basically.
I'm sensitive towards international players because equality should just be a no-brainer at this point in American history, but particularly since so many of my favorite baseball players aren't from the United States, aren't white, and aren't disillusioned by the modern game, which is extremely diverse. When you think about a team like the Rangers, just as an example, they have Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Yu Darvish, Shin-Soo Choo, Martin Perez, Robinson Chirinos, Hanser Alberto and others. And unless I'm being totally naïve here, at least on television it looks like all these guys have a great time playing on the same team together. I could be wrong, but that's my perception, and I think it's important.
Bud Norris, as has been proven by some of his comments in the past, is unwilling to accept modern baseball. Which, unless he's completely oblivious (a near-certainty at this point), has turned roughly a third international, and yes, does involve analytics.
The same "code" Norris defends, which went to great lengths in the 1940's and 50's to deny an entire race of ballplayers the distinct privilege of stepping foot on such hallowed ground of MLB parks, which supports throwing fast-moving projectiles at human beings if they pimp a home run too much, which countlessly and desperately preys on insignificant moments to reinforce its antiquated worldview, has become the voice of the weary old man imploring children to stay off his lawn.
This isn't White vs. Black or Gay vs. Straight, but it boils down to the same principle: Whenever the old guard is introduced to a new idea or concept or "culture," as it were it this case, it generally goes through three stages:
- Reject the idea [of whatever is new];
- Voice that [whatever is new] conflicts with The Right Way To Play The Game;
- Say that [whatever is new] has been part of the game all along.
The sad part is people like this actually exist, and actually think this way.
I applaud Bud Norris for making more headlines from things he's said about his former organizations, or about how Latin Americans are ruining his conception of what people told him the game was all about when he was growing up, rather than his actual production on the pitcher's mound, which has been sorely lacking.