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Volume 68, Issue 155, Wednesday, July 9, 2003


Baker not sweating heat comments

Situation different from Campanis'

Mendoza Line

Ed De La Garza

Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker is neither racist nor stupid. He's been lambasted for comments he made Saturday and reiterated Monday but most of the heat's been coming from people who didn't stop to examine the heart of his comments about minorities and their ability to play in the heat.

"It's easier for most Latin guys and it's easier for most minority people because most of us come from heat. You don't find too many brothers in New Hampshire and Maine and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Right?" Baker said Saturday. "We were brought over here for the heat, right? Isn't that history? Weren't we brought over because we could take the heat? ... Your skin color is more conducive to heat than it is to the lighter-skinned people. I don't see brothers running around burnt."

There was also that whole not thinking of minorities as people thing that helped slavery along, but really, what did he say that was so wrong? While initially said jokingly, the comments were based on fact.

Any civilization or anthropology course will teach you mankind began in Africa, but because of migration, different groups adapted differently to their climates. Those who migrated to colder climates didn't need darker skin, hence, the white race. There's nothing racist or ignorant about it. He didn't say "Down with whitey."

It's not the same as Al Campanis saying blacks "may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager" on ABC's Nightline. If the real issue is the sensitivity of the remarks, then there's a better question than whether or not Baker should have made them. To who were they insensitive?

It's a different matter if skin color or ethnicity makes one qualified to make a comment about skin color and playing in the sun. Minorities are better qualified to make comments such as Baker's in the same way women's views are more important when it comes to pro-choice and pro-life. It's called experience.

Baker's stubborn and egotistical, but he's not ignorant. His ability to pick All-Star reserves on the other hand ...

The All-Star Game

Fans pretty much got the starting lineups for the 2003 All-Star Game right this year. Any of the National League's starting outfield (Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols and Gary Sheffield) could win this year's Most Valuable Player award. Carlos Delgado, Alfonso Soriano, Troy Glaus and Alex Rodriguez in the American League's infield make sense.

The players, allowed to vote in some of the reserves for the first time this year, also seem to have done their best to pick some deserving talent: the NL's Jose Vidro, Luis Gonzalez and Eric Gagne and the AL's Bret Boone, Nomar Garciaparra and Jamie Moyer (making his first appearance as an All-Star at age 40).

But there are a couple of players left out of the roster who deserved to be included. With Colorado's Shawn Chacon injured, Baker, this year's NL manager, chose Cubs starter Kerry Wood over Florida's Dontrelle Willis. Wood is 8-6 with a 3.36 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 18 games. Willis is 8-1 with a 2.13 ERA in his rookie year.

Of course, the stipulation that every club needs to be represented in the game makes the manager's job that much harder when selecting reserves, but Willis is fun to watch. If Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling return to form next season, it's going to be harder for the young pitcher to make it onto the team. But, he could get a spot if Kevin Brown's too hurt to play Tuesday.

Unless someone else gives up his roster spot, Roger Clemens isn't likely to end his career with an All-Star selection. Despite having 301 wins and 4,031 strikeouts in a 20-year career, the Rocket (8-6, 3.75 ERA, 122 Ks) wasn't named to the AL team. Tampa Bay relief pitcher Lance Carter (5-3, 4.17 ERA, 14 saves) and Cleveland starter C.C. Sabathia (8-3, 3.27 ERA, 72 Ks) should thank their lucky stars their teams have to be represented.

Fan voting isn't done yet. People have until today to log onto and vote for the final two roster spots. For the NL, fans will select Orlando Cabrera, Luis Castillo, Geoff Jenkins, Corey Patterson or Benito Santiago. In the AL, the choices are Eric Byrnes, Jason Giambi, Bengie Molina, Frank Thomas and Jason Varitek.

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