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The Yankees’ Josh Donaldson was suspended by MLB for exactly one (1) game for twice calling the White Sox’ Tim Anderson “Jackie” during last Saturday’s game between the two clubs. He is appealing the suspension, which is not exactly a great way to show that the supposed contrition in his statement is genuine:
“First and foremost, I have the utmost respect for what Tim Anderson brings to the game of baseball. I stated over the weekend that I apologized for offending Tim and that it was a misunderstanding based on multiple exchanges between us over the years. My view of that exchange hasn’t changed and I absolutely meant no disrespect. In the past, it had never been an issue and now that it is, we have a mutual understanding.
I would also like to apologize to Mrs. Rachel Robinson and the Jackie Robinson family for any distress this incident may have caused. Jackie was a true American hero and I hold his name in the highest regard.”
Just to back things up for a moment, Donaldson called Anderson “Jackie” because of a 2019 Sports Illustrated article that people with the reading comprehension of Donaldson and people who have Twitter accounts that end with a bunch of random numbers can’t seem to stop bringing up as some kind of legitimate defense of the Yankees’ third baseman. All Anderson was saying is that he was “ready to change the game,” and help to make it fun, a thing that non-white players are often policed against doing in the most button-up, stuffy white guy team sport going. There was never any direct equivalence being drawn between Robinson, whose entry into the league was the beginning of the end of the segregation of Black and white players in MLB, and Anderson, who was mostly reaffirming something Adam Jones had said years before, that he was a Black man playing a white man’s game, with all that entails.
And yet, Donaldson latched on to this, and started calling Anderson “Jackie,” which he said was an inside joke between the two. Anderson, for his part — and prior to Donaldson’s statement — told The Athletic’s James Fegan that after Donaldson called him “Jackie” the first time, told him that the two “didn’t need to speak ever again.” Doesn’t sound like much of an inside joke, but maybe this one is just really, really inside.
So, Donaldson is either a complete dingus who reacted to Anderson’s reaction with some form of “ha, that guy is such a kidder,” or he was actually being actively malicious, and nowhere near as “aw shucks, it wasn’t my intent” as his apology to Anderson and his multiple reactions to the press suggest. Either way, it’s a one-game suspension, and he is in the wrong — very obviously so. He is racist, or he was racist, with intent’s only role in this being figuring out which of the two this was. Either way, the league decided just one game was the punishment for the end result. And yet, Donaldson, while seemingly trying to come off as contrite, is appealing the ruling, which in this case would mean lowering it to a fine or no punishment at all. If Donaldson actually, genuinely feels remorse for what he deems a “misunderstanding” that he is the cause of, then just own it. Drop the appeal, serve the suspension after returning from the COVID-19-specific injured list, and then maybe don’t go around calling Anderson “Jackie” anymore, in public or in private.
Here’s the thing, though. That Donaldson continues to maintain his innocence in his statement — “it was a misunderstanding based on multiple exchanges between us over the years. My view of that exchange hasn’t changed and I absolutely meant no disrespect. In the past, it had never been an issue and now that it is, we have a mutual understanding” — suggests that he does not actually think he did anything wrong, that he has nothing to actually apologize for outside of accidentally making this in a story that required someone in Yankees’ public relations to have to tell him to also apologize to Jackie Robinson’s family while he was at it. So of course he is going to appeal the suspension: he does not believe he has any reason to be suspended at all, given it was “a misunderstanding.”
What is there to misunderstand, exactly, if Anderson’s response to being called “Jackie” three years ago was to tell Donaldson the two never needed to speak again? How serious Anderson was about that, perhaps? The only conclusion to be drawn is that Donaldson knew exactly what he was doing, that he remembered how Anderson reacted previously, and knew it would get under his skin this time, too. Donaldson was lashing out with something he knew would get Anderson’s attention, and then he immediately retreated to pretend as if this was all just being blown out of proportion, and that there was no malice there whatsoever, despite how things might appear. Donaldson thinks Anderson is stupid, or at least, thinks the rest of us are stupid, so now he’s throwing out the misunderstanding defense and trying to make himself the unfairly maligned victim of the story. Gotta keep up appearances, I guess.
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