One day after hearing racial taunts and having a bag of peanuts thrown near him at Fenway Park, Baltimore’s Adam Jones received a standing ovation from some Red Sox fans before his first at-bat.
But let’s not confuse that reaction with a universal standing ovation from the Boston crowd. And it certainly doesn’t erase the actions of the imbeciles from the night before. And no, it wasn’t a stadium full of morons who hit him with those racist bombs and threw a bag of peanuts at him the night before.
Jones said, it was more than just a N-bomb or two, and he says it’s not the first time he’s experienced that type of treatment at Fenway. But this time, he felt, “compelled to speak out” adding “it was just the right time,” and “it was something that was on my mind. It was frustrating for me. I’m a grown man with a family to raise, so I’m not just going to let nobody just sit there and berate me. I’m a grown man. Where I come from, you say things like that, you put the gloves on and you go after it. Obviously in the real world you can’t do that, especially in my field, so just hopefully the awareness comes, the people around in the stands will hold other fans accountable.”
Jones did say racism is everywhere, but cited “a long history of these incidents in Boston.”
He’s right. Fact is, Boston’s history with racism is complicated, at best, and Fenway has not been the most welcoming place for African-American players. The Red Sox were the last major league team to integrate, 12 years after Jackie Robinson’s debut.
C.C. Sabathia said yesterday he has never been called the “N” word anywhere but Boston.
So don’t come in here and say this isn’t a thing. It is a thing. And according to Sabathia, it’s something common enough that Fenway Park is notorious among African-American players. He told Newsday “We know. There’s 62 of us. We all know. When you go to Boston, expect it.”
Carl Crawford says he heard racial taunts at Fenway as well. David Price told the Boston Globe he dealt with similar things last year in his first season with the Red Sox. Listen to that again. That’s a Red Sox player saying that he was hearing that from Red Sox fans. That’s not just giving the visiting team a hard time. That could very well be people wearing Red Sox gear yelling racial abuse at a player in Red Sox gear.
I’m not saying Boston is the only place where this is happening, but you can’t say it’s not happening there. When Jones says it is. And Sabathia says it. And Crawford says it. And Price says it.
The Red Sox, as they should have, moved quickly to address the situation, apologizing to both Jones and the Orioles publicly and saying they will not tolerate that kind of behavior. Good start but not enough.
Just as kicking someone out of the ballpark that night for spewing that garbage isn’t enough. The Sox say they have a zero tolerance policy for any racial intolerance in their yard. Zero tolerance should mean they’re not going to allow it. Period. You want to fix that problem? You want to put some teeth behind that zero tolerance policy, then hit anyone who does it with a lifetime ban. That’s a zero tolerance policy. Of course, having a ban like that and enforcing it are two different things.
But at least that sends some sort of a message, we’re not tolerating hate, of any kind towards any group in this house. That’s what the Red Sox should do if they’re serious about their zero tolerance policy and Red Sox fans should be the ones who insist on it. Because there’s no place for that crap in baseball. Or in life. Adam Jones said it best, “boo me, tell me I suck. Just keep the racial stuff out of it.”
Again, buying a ticket gives you license to do just that: to boo a guy or to tell him he sucks. It doesn’t give you license to spew hate, drop N-bombs or throw bags of peanuts at African-Americans.
Wake the hell up it’s 2017.