Posts Tagged ‘Dayan Viciedo’

“People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they’re African American. They’re not us. They’re impostors”

-Torii Hunter

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52 

Note: This article is the start of something, the history of the Afro-Latino in baseball cannot be summed up in one blog post or even a series of blog posts. It began as a simple email response and it has grown into an ongoing project whose end date I’m not sure of. This is a snippet.

It’s pretty clear that people just don’t know what to do with Latinos. In the Trayvon Martin case Zimmerman was labeled a minority by some because he has Spanish roots, thus making him Mexican or something. The Ozzie Guillen story provided an interesting chance for Latinos to have a serious conversation about race and hate within the community, instead we got an overreaction to the suspension with no real discussion on why what he said stung so much. One of the more surprising aspects of this controversy was the lack of cultural awareness when it comes to Hispanics. People genuinely did not know that Castro is seen as a tyrannical despot on the level of Hitler with the Cuban community. The caricature was the only impression people had of him and were shocked that Ozzie’s comments cut so deep.

The inspiration from this commentary, however, came from a nugget of information that Dan Bernstein gave us 2 weeks ago. The Chicago Cubs are currently shopping most of their big league roster, and it’s been speculated for months that Marlon Byrd will be traded. Should he find a new home between now and April 15, Jackie Robinson day, Chicago will have no African-American representative on #42’s day. That is a rather interesting piece of information, and I don’t have much issue with it. A caller brought up the name Alex Rios, who was born in Alabama and is considered Puerto-Rican-American.

And that’s what really got me thinking about what Jackie Robinson day means. For the purposes of his point, I can somewhat see where Mr. Bernstein was coming from, he dismissed Rios as a Latin born player and not African American in the typical sense of the term. However, I think this is a classic example of the media, and the world in general, having no idea what to do with Afro-Latinos. Torii Hunter’s quote above illustrates that point as well. Afro-Latinos are not properly represented nor are they accounted for in America.

The implication that Mr. Bernstein was making is that Afro-Latinos shouldn’t count as proper representatives for Jackie Robinson Day. That’s a dangerous implication to make and I think it’s one that a lot of people make. The inverse of this is also dangerous however, to consider Alex Rios as simply black without considering what his heritage and his lineage is. The point of Jackie Robinson day is to celebrate the tearing down of the color barrier. That’s a broad term, color, and it’s one that’s classically been assigned to African-Americans throughout history, with a good reason. It was the label that an oppressive white society put on blacks to strip away their sense of worth. But color is a defined differently today as it applies to a broader population.

The truth is that the gentleman’s agreement about “colored” players extended beyond just the African-American players. If you sent Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, Alex Rios, Carlos Marmol, Dayan Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez, Hector Santiago, and even Geo Soto back into a time machine set for the 30’s, not a one is playing in the Majors. They would all be New York Cubans.

The history of the New York Cubans is muddled, which is common for a Negro League team. For the purposes of this column, understand that they were a Negro League team comprised of mostly Afro-Latinos, but occasionally they took on lighter skinned Latinos because MLB didn’t want anything to do with people of color. They began in 1899 as the All Cubans, became the Cuban Stars in 1907, folded in the late 20’s and were recreated by a former member of the Cuban Stars, Alex Pompez, in 1930. If that name rings a bell White Sox fans, it’s because he scouted Minnie Minoso and brought him over from Cuba to play ball in the US.

The New York Cubans employed players of color that were not allowed to play in the Majors. These were not strictly African American players that fit neatly into a small category. The NY Cubans took on all that were of color and shunned by MLB, until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and opened the door to all people of color, not just American born Blacks. The Negro Leagues were where Minnie Minoso got his start in professional baseball.

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson was 0/3 with a RS, but on that day he began the process that cemented himself as arguably the most important player in baseball history. In the wake of integration  we had Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, and Minnie Minoso. That’s a lot of talent that MLB was ignoring before Jackie. A date that should be similarly remembered is May 1, 1951.

The “Cuban Comet” paved the way for Latino players, but is remembered by the White Sox as being their first black player in the post Jackie Robinson era. On May 1, Minnie paved the way for Latino players to enter the Majors, which of course came at the price of discrimination, racism, and untold stress and heartache. Reporters rather famously phonetically spelled his quotes in print, he was called all sorts of names everywhere he went, and he had to use the “Coloreds Only” stalls as well.

It’s irresponsible to dismiss Afro Latinos because they aren’t the “right kind of black.” I think it’s about time to have a serious discussion about race in America, one that centers around Hispanics. The race issue is alive and well in America, it’s disguised as other things and somewhat hidden, but we Hispanics have a lot of issues to resolve with ourselves. There’s an alarming trend of self hate and lost identity within our community. Ozzie’s insensitive comments confront us with an uncomfortable reality that we aren’t as unified as we’d like to think sometimes. I’m guilty of talking shit to Puerto Ricans, and I’m sure most Hispanics have similar stories. We’ve come a long way since Minnie, but we still have a long way to go. Our story is frequently misunderstood in America, let’s work on that.

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“Isn’t it strange? The same people who laugh at gypsy fortune tellers take economists seriously.”

I think it’s important for baseball fans on both sides of Chicago to understand that neither the Sox nor the Cubs will be seriously competing this year. The Sox have a better shot at catching lightning in a bottle this year if they get great years from their roster, but it’s a big if at this point and oddly enough it can all hinge on Jake Peavy’s health, which is a scary proposition. The Cubs have virtually no hope, the rosters of the teams in front of the Cubs are all better. The Reds, Brewers and Cardinals will fight for the Central lead leaving the Cubs in a slap fight with the Astros and the Pirates to avoid the cellar.

So a lot of people are going to tune out without properly understanding what you’re watching. For the Sox this is Kenny’s last stand. His acquisitions all have a strange propensity to blow up in his face. Manny Ramirez, Ken Griffey Jr., Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn were all massive faceplants to this point. He let fan favorites Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buerhle take their talents to Miami. He hired a manager that no one knew was a serious candidate and took full control of this team moving forward. Any success the team enjoys will be his, but so will the failure. Not many GM’s get to fire 2 managers, so Kenny’s on the clock

Epstoyer is enjoying a honeymoon currently, but they’ll have to work efficiently to rebuild a decimated Cubs organization. The Cubs have almost no pitching help in the minors. There are a few Cub fans that will want the Cubs to win now . When Cubs start getting traded most of these will get restless and wonder what the aim of the organization is. There are even a few that believe Theo and company only won because they spent Yankee money. This is true to an extent, but the Red Sox also drafted wisely and had good talent come up from their farm system. The make over the Cubs are going to get will be impressive, but the clock will start once the Cubs trade a marquee name.

Which brings me to the purpose of these two pieces. AL/NL Central “Predictions.” I’m placing the teams in order of believed finish, but I’m not going to place a W-L value on it. We’ll start with the AL Central. NL Central will go live tomorrow.

1. Detroit Tigers – They are the favorite to win the division and they are a candidate tot make some noise in the playoffs. They added Prince to Miggy and have a potent offense. The lose of Victor Martinez will hurt as Ryan Raburn will get more burn in the lineup, but Prince more than makes up for that. We all know what Prince can do with the bat, ditto with Miggy. The real question is how awful that IF defense will be. Prince-Raburn-Peralta-Cabrera has a serious chance at being the worst IF defense of all time.

Especially considering that this dude played third 60 lbs ago.

It would be pretty astounding to see what Verlander would do with a good defense, but as it stands the defense shouldn’t affect him too much. He probably won’t be as great as his 2011 season, but he’ll still be a Cy Young candidate in 2012. The rotation guy that might suffer is Doug Fister. Verlander and Scherzer both strikeout batters at an above average clip, but Fister’s career SO/9 is 5.5. He upped it to 7.3 in 70 ip with the Tigers, but I would expect that rate to fall. The ‘pen is solid and a name to look for is Daniel Schlereth. If he can gain some semblance of control he can become a high leverage pitcher.

2. KC Royals – It’s hard to predict a 2nd place finish for a team that boasts Bruce Chen in it’s rotation, but here they are, on the back of what should be a rather impressive offense. The kids can play, Hosmer is legit and should emerge as KC’s best player overall this year. Alex Gordon is going to be a great leadoff hitter this year, and Moustakas should make some positive gains at the big league level this year. The question with this team is when will the pitching help get here? All of their starters are projected to be below average this year, the only pitcher that may be worth his salt will be Jonathan Sanchez. Daniel Duffy is a few years away and like I said, Bruce Chen is an important part of this rotation. A lot of what this team does moving forward will depend on what they can do to solidify the starters. The bullpen has some names to keep an eye on, but losing Joakim Soria hurts. I think the Royals take a major step forward but the rotation will hold them back from competing for a wild card spot.

3. Cleveland Indians – Carlos Santana is the damn truth. He will emerge as the best catcher in baseball this year. He’s great with the stick and he’s a good defender. The Indians should surprise people this year, but a bad offense will keep them from really making noise in the central. Shin-Soo Choo is key for the Tribe. If he can get back on his star track this year the Indians can scare the Tigers for a few months. If not, the Indians will be relegated to fending off the Sox and the Twins in third place. Ubaldo Jimenez won’t be competing for Cy Young’s anymore, but he is a solid top of the rotation pitcher. He should emerge as the ace over Justin Masterson this year. Josh Tomlin needs to increase his K rate to his minor league levels to have a breakout year, but he should still remain as a decent mid-rotation option. The Bullpen will keep this team from being a complete cellar dweller.

4. Chicago White Sox – It’s not an awful rotation. Danks should have a rebound year, Gavin is a candidate to have a great year, Chris Sale will make some noise in the rotation, but their success or failure all depends on the offense. Adam Dunn was historically bad and that saved Alex Rios from more criticism. Gordon Beckham lost his swing and will have a difficult time getting it back. AJ Pierzynski is hitting second in the lineup. Brent Morel will get significant playing time. It’s just a bad offense. Dunn should rebound somewhat, he’s currently crushing fastballs which is a good sign considering how slow his bat looked last year. Dayan Viciedo has light tower power but we have to wait and see how his game translates in the MLB. Rios is likely to hit 3rd for most of the season. The Sox have too many questions regarding the offense to be a serious contender, you have to hit HR’s in the Cell to compete, because everyone else will.

5. Minnesota Twins – This team is awful. Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham will carry the load on offense, and their pitching rotation will be flat out awful. Carl Pavano’s K-rate might dip below 4 this year. They have no frontline starter in their rotation. The bullpen will be using gasoline to put out the fires this year, there’s little help down on the farm, Justin Morneau is probably done playing baseball, they will be in the cellar this year. They have a long rebuild ahead of them and Gardy should probably get fired this year.

Episode 008 – ALEXEEEEIII! YES, YES, HISTORY!

Posted: February 6, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Podcast
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In this episode, we forget football ever happened, we review Soxfest, interview Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo, review a great Chicago brew (not Ronnie Brewer), discuss a lot of baseball, and reveal our favorite sports books of all time.