Play Ball!

Let me give a quick thanks to Macon D and Xey for their comments on my last post (“A Latino Rodney King”). They agreed with my conclusion, which is great. But let me also thank Turtle, who disagreed with me. It’s good to get a free flow of ideas going.

But because the last couple of posts have been so serious, I’d like to lighten up with his one.

Like millions of other American males, I love baseball. It is the only sport I follow religiously, and it is one of the few topics that I feel comfortable talking about at length without fear of coming across as ignorant (deluded and opinionated perhaps, but not wholly unknowledgeable).

So I’m thrilled that the season has started again. My team is above .500, and their efforts should be a cause for alternating bouts of joy, frustration, disbelief, and relief for the next five months or so.

Perhaps my fondness for this most pastoral of games has a cultural basis. As you may know, baseball is incredibly popular in Latin America, trailing only soccer. But I’m convinced that a lot of the enthusiasm for that foot-based sport is glee over the announcers yelling, “Gooooal!,” which is more entertaining than the games.

More likely, my appreciation for baseball is because of its inherent, tension-ratcheting drama (the very aspect that critics mislabel as “boring.”) And I’ve always been fascinated with its history, which has often served as a metaphor for America itself. For an obvious example, look no farther than the great Jackie Robinson for an instant analysis of racial relations.

As such, it’s disappointing that Hispanics are shut out when it comes to one aspect of the game. That’s right, the whole controversy over team nicknames has excluded us.

Native Americans can get up in arms over the Atlanta Braves or Cleveland Indians. But Latinos are unlikely to protest the San Diego Padres. It’s just not the same.

In fact, the whole issue of offensive names has a distinctly Native American flair to it. There have been arguments about various collegiate Fighting Sioux teams, and overt hostility toward the NFL’s Washington Redskins (a moniker so pejorative that I can’t see how it’s even open to debate).

But what do we Hispanics have? The UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos are unlikely to incur our wrath. Similarly, we just aren’t going to lose our minds if anybody decides to call themselves “The Amigos,” which would be the least terrifying team name ever.

On second thought, that honor probably rests with the UC-Santa Cruz Fighting Banana Slugs:


Yes, it can be difficult to be left out of a racial/ethnic controversy, but I guess we’re just going to have to let this one pass. So I say, good luck to those Native Americans who are fighting the good cultural fight. Latinos can offer you no more than moral support.

Let me add, however, that I’m part Irish. As such, I’m offended that Notre Dame has chosen some brawling, drunken leprechaun as its mascot…

No, I’m just trying too hard now. Forget it.


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May 2009
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