Bud, Bruno and Baseball's Bigotry

In the confederate confines of sports radio, casual bigotry is about as common as traffic updates. Far less common, even unprecedented, is for a manager or coach to look this in the eye and call out a member of the media's comments as  “racist.” That’s exactly what San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy did last week to nationally syndicated sports radio talker Tony Bruno, and he should be applauded for it. After Bochy’s pitcher Ramon Ramirez hit Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies last Friday, sparking a bench-clearing brawl, Bruno blew a gasket. He posted, “gutless #!@ percent*# Giants ) Bochy is a coward for having his illegal alien pitcher hit a guy.”

 

Ramirez of course is not an “illegal” anything. Like every one of the 30 percent of Major League players born outside the United States who aren’t citizens, he lives and works here under a P-1 visa, often referred to as an entertainment visa. But then, no human being is actually “illegal” at all. It’s just an ugly slur that’s been mainstreamed by those who target the undocumented. As Gustavo Andrade the organizing director of leading immigrant rights group Casa de Maryland said to me,

 

“Mr. Bruno was clearly not making a factual statement about Mr. Ramirez’s immigration status; rather, he was making a derogatory comment about him based on his race. That racist slur has been actively promoted by the most vicious anti-immigrant groups in the country. It is meant to dehumanize an entire ethnic group within the United States and desensitize the public to the difficult struggles immigrants face every day. Five million children face the daily risk of becoming an orphan through the deportation of one—or both—of their parents. Mr. Bruno’s tweet was racist, ignorant and dangerous. It propagates the idea that all Latinos are somehow less than human.”

 

When Bochy heard about Bruno’s comments, he was incensed, saying, “Forget the remarks about me. That doesn’t bother me. For a guy to make a racist comment like that and have the ear of so many people, that bothers me. I can defend myself as a coward. I don’t know if you can defend yourself making a racist comment.”

 

After the initial uproar, Bruno set a land-speed record for issuing a classic “non-apology-apology” where he slammed “the sheep on facebook, twitter and blogs.” Later, Bruno wrote, “I did remove my post and apologize for my comments regarding illegal aliens. I was angry and on the air and I stand behind my comments that Bruce Bochy is a coward, as are all managers who order pitchers to throw at guys just because their pitchers can’t get a guy out. All of you people resorting to name calling are more classless and vile.” You could almost weep over the heartfelt remorse.

 

Assumedly one of those “more classless and vile” people is Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition who said of Bruno, “This guy is a pig. In this day and age, using this kind of language, which encourages intolerance and hate crimes, is inexcusable.”

Honestly, I disagree strongly with Nogales. I disagree because his comments are highly insulting to pigs, who are extremely intelligent animals. I bet Bruno couldn’t find a quality truffle if his life depended on it.

 

The question that really matters is whether he should be fired. I asked Dr. Carlos Munoz Jr., Ethnic Studies professor at UC Berkeley. Dr. Munoz said, “Tony Bruno was off the wall. Comments like his are harmful because they perpetuate the racist anti-immigrant hysteria that exists throughout the nation. It adds fuel to the fire that started burning in Arizona and that has expanded to Georgia and other states. He deserves to be fired!” In other words, racism, ignorance and abject stupidity, when you host a national radio show, are, in fact, firing offenses.

 

But the unfortunate words of one doesn’t change the fact that this whole sorry story comes back to the political climate around the game. Responsibility for that falls at the feet of baseball commissioner Bud Selig. Under Selig’s watch, teams have invested billions in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela to develop talent on the cheap. Yet he does nothing to actually recognize the humanity of the players who are the game’s brightest stars. Selig has had several opportunities to show that he recognizes that Latino players are more than a talent pool. But he rejected the movement to retire Roberto Clemente’s number 21 in every park. He refused to remain in the stadium and talk to reporters when Carlos Santana spoke out against anti-Latino bigotry at this year’s Civil Rights game. Most egregiously, and unforgivably, he wouldn’t move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona despite the state’s evolution toward becoming a place where Latino players and fans are simply unsafe.

 

In Bud Selig’s baseball universe, Roberto Clemente goes unrecognized and people like Tony Bruno get national platforms to slander “illegal aliens”. In other words, we can get Tony Bruno off the air, but there is a bigger fight brewing for the very soul of the National Pastime. Will baseball be a force for inclusion or exclusion? Throughout its checkered history, this game has certainly been both. Bud right now stands with Tony Bruno on the wrong side of that history.

 

[Dave Zirin is the author of “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner) and just made the new documentary “Not Just a Game.” Receive his column every week by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com.]

24 Reader Comments | Add a comment

uh

I am curious.. is Dave Zirin like Jose Vargas, another illegal? The anger in this blog is waaaay over the top & there has to be more to it. I mean the term in question is "illegal immigrant". Hear this term a million times a day, its mainstream. Its not racist. Do you have your papers, Dave Zirin?

well said wftjo



zarins usual claptrap rears its heads.


there is nothing racist about the term illegal alien and the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of illegals in this country, most of whom are hispanic.


those are the facts, zarin, despite your 'spin'.

Clearly not racist?

Even if I agree with your premise that the term illegal alien isn't racist, the fact that Bruno would call him an illegal alien is at best derogatory. If we go with Dexx's assertion that the majority of illegal aliens are Hispanic then Bruno's derogatory comment was based on Ramirez's ethnicity . If you make a derogatory comment about someone's ethnicity, doesn't that make his comments at best bigoted, at worst racist?

um, it is fact that...

most illegal aliens are hispanic, especially mexican. Hold, despite your 'mind trick' am I supposed to believe they are Dutch or something???


And, again, it is not bigoted nor racist. the problem is people who want to cry bigotry and racism over everything.

ill add...

that racism has been a real problem over time but having the reaction to that be to call just about EVERYTHING bigoted and racist is also a problem.


Not to mention you enable people like some who say the old"you just doing that cause I am black."


So, as always, it is good to be rational.

prejudice, not racism

Bruno's comments assumed that Ramirez is an illegal alien simply because of his race. While his comments were indeed vile and ignorant, that is stereotyping, not racism. If he had said "a white pitcher would never do that because of the inherent nobility of the white race," well, that would be racist.

Rational would be nice...

Missing thoughtful conversation here. Comments about DZ being an alien and spinning (Jedi) mind tricks make me think this discussion has been taken over by birther/tea-partier loonies!

It is indeed rare for a white major league manager to speak out on matters of race. Argue all you want about whether Bruno's rant was racist, or merely prejudiced. Kudos to Bruce Bochy, not only for standing up for his pitcher (which is his job), but for having the courage to NOT take the easier road of silence on such a contentious (and relevant) issue.




intelligent conversation

It's tough to keep up with this stuff unless you're a tea party loon living off unemployment. Still love that whole - "keep your government hands of my medicare" signage!

This just in...

AP reports (Sat, 8/13) that the overall number of hate crimes reported in California remained steady from 2009 to 2010, but the number targeting Latinos jumped significantly. "While hate crimes against Jews, Blacks, and the LGBT community decreased, the state said hate crimes against Latinos jumped 47%...Experts said the jump can be attributed, in part, to the polarizing rhetoric prompted by an Arizona law targeting undocumented immigrants."

Ignorance

...is bliss. It's all spelled out for the reader in the quote by Andrade following the second graph. The comments from Bruno weren't factual, but derogatory and incendiary.

Yes, we hear those terms frequently, "to dehumanize an entire ethnic group living in the U.S. and desensitize the public to the difficult struggles immigrants face everyday."

Racial prejudice is racism.

chandler...



you lost credibility when you mentioned andrade. his statement was melodramatic and being part of "casa di maryland" he obviously has an agenda he is trying to push. again, I find it odd that based on the perfectly fine term illegal alien, someone is accused of being biased but those accusing him also are quite biased.


Bochy said it

Is it just me or does there seem to be more anger toward Zirin by some of these commenters here than toward Bruce Bochy, who was the one that called Bruno a racist? Bochy seems to be getting a pass. It's almost as if you guys are in denial that a rather conservative looking, white jock major league baseball manager took a hard line against racism.

That being said...Bruno calling Ramirez an illegal immigrant without any merit whatsoever IS a racist comment, because it rests on the assumption that most Latinos are here illegally, which isn't even close to the truth.

take is easy, matchbox20

the only one'angry' here is the melodramatic , overwrought tone of zarins article and some of the people he quoted. So take it easy on the hyperbole and back to the topics at hand.


(and, yes, bochy made the comment but 1. zarin took things much further in his article. 2. bochy doesnt have a history of always trying to create melodrama as zarin does)

Melodrama 2012!

Lol. Dexx doesn't know what melodrama means. It's like a kid learning a new word and misusing it repeatedly.

matchbox20...


everything zarin writies is melodramtic, as are the quotes in here from andrade.


I honestly dont see how you could have read it and said it was anything but. You are in denial, robthomas.

also, as I said...

the fact of the matter is that most illegal aliens are hispanic. that is a fact.


what, are you going to tell they me they are Dutch or from Iceland?

and finally (for now)...

zarin is not only melodramatic but all of his articles are diatribes.


Most of the stuff he is included in this article, for example, has nothing to do with the original incident. Mentioning Clemente, for instance, has nothing to do with Bochy and it just a 'reason" for zarin to go on tangent to promote his agenda and pet causes.


Adjectives

The fact that he (Bruno) had to say anything that denoted race in that particular instance was suspect.

"Bochy is a coward for having his illegal alien pitcher hit a guy.

He might as well said Spic Pitcher or Wetback pitcher. He could have easily said relief pitcher, or a**hole or overpaid, whatever, but why even say that when you know its not true and your in a position where people hear you and follow you on the reg. Its just driving it home that it's cool to say stuff like that on the fly.


ill bet zarin defends zambrano...



in his next article

A world without Dexx would be quieter and smarter

David, give Dexx a swift lesson in private blog censorship and ban him so badly that every time he tries to submit a comment his computer is infected with 5,000 items of malware. He doesn't contribute anything. He's clearly a troll. If his wife found out what he was doing, a divorce would be eminent.....assuming he's married. Good chance he's not, as a matter of fact. Sure, he'll compare it to government censorship, because he's too stupid to know the difference between private censorship and public censorship. But we have no time to teach him civics lessons. Just spray him with raid like the cockroach that he is. And I'll bet you he comments under several aliases. I imagine you'd be killing 10 or so birds with one stone. Just an idea.

Cowboy in Windsor vs. Tony Bruno as a sports talk show host.

Tony Bruno is an ugly,loud-mouthed Jersey Shore reject whose presence in sports talk radio is keeping dudes like "Cowboy in Windsor," who,though 58,is a brawny-5'8",220 lb.,18" biceps-
Hollywood leading man handsome black Windsor,
Ont.,Can. laddie who,for the past 10 years,has had a "Cowboy's Corner" closing segment on "The
Ben Maller Weekend Show (Saturday-Sunday,1-7 a.m.,ET.,Friday-Saturday,Saturday-Sunday,10 p.m.-4 a.m.),on which he greets the
crew,mentions historic sports and other events of the date/next few days,opines on salient sports topics,brays a chorus and/or verse of one of his favourite rock or Country songs,gives a time check and bids a voluptuous lady,often a
buxom blonde to "Visit handsome black Cowboy
John-Brad;you're a hot-bodied lady;I'm a hot-
blooded lad!!!!,before bidding adieu with a hearty,"Yeeeee-Hawwwww!!!!" Tell me why this dude isn't hosting his own show!!!!

Cowboy in Windsor vs. Tony Bruno as a sports talk show host.

Tony Bruno is an ugly,loud-mouthed Jersey Shore reject whose presence in sports talk radio is keeping dudes like "Cowboy in Windsor," who,though 58,is a brawny-5'8",220 lb.,18" biceps-
Hollywood leading man handsome black Windsor,
Ont.,Can. laddie who,for the past 10 years,has had a "Cowboy's Corner" closing segment on "The
Ben Maller Weekend Show (Saturday-Sunday,1-7 a.m.,ET.,Friday-Saturday,Saturday-Sunday,10 p.m.-4 a.m.),on which he greets the
crew,mentions historic sports and other events of the date/next few days,opines on salient sports topics,brays a chorus and/or verse of one of his favourite rock or Country songs,gives a time check and bids a voluptuous lady,often a
buxom blonde to "Visit handsome black Cowboy
John-Brad;you're a hot-bodied lady;I'm a hot-
blooded lad!!!!,before bidding adieu with a hearty,"Yeeeee-Hawwwww!!!!" Tell me why this dude isn't hosting his own show!!!!

robthomas



your hypocrisy knows no bounds, as you probably go to marches against censorship and get arrested and yet you are being extremely petty as usual and making that request.


so, mr. open minded, it looks like you cant handle anyone with views different from your own.


robthomas, you are very insecure. and, need i mention, one of the biggest hypocrites I have seen.

I agree with Dave and Rob.

"Is it just me or does there seem to be more anger toward Zirin by some of these commenters here than toward Bruce Bochy, who was the one that called Bruno a racist? Bochy seems to be getting a pass."

Very well said. Rob. They always get a free pass with the sports radio crowd.

Dave also brought up an interesting point about MLB exploiting Latin players which is of course never brought up on sports radio. Keep up the good work.

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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