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On Whether Baseball Is Too Hispanic

by Fidel Martinez

Earlier this morning we ran across a post on Being Latino (seriously, check them out) written by sportswriter Jennifer Mercedes reacting to an October 4th ESPN editorial where author Tim Keown poses the following question: is Major League too Hispanic? Miss Mercedes brings up several good and valid points, but given the nature of Tu Vez and what we cover as a site, I couldn’t help but to chime in.

Before starting, I should note that Tim Keown is more thoughtful on the subject than the title would suggest. His piece is not a rant condemning the decades-long trend of Latinos comprising a sizable percentage of all Major League Baseball players.

Except that it kind of is. Keown doesn’t really hint at a stance on the issue until the very last paragraph, where he cites the anti-immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama and comments on them:

And if we’ve learned anything from every baseball book we’ve read or documentary we’ve seen, it’s this: Baseball can’t help but mirror society. So why should this be any different?

It’s true that in recent years there has been a surge of anti-Hispanic sentiment in this country. In that respect, Keown is on the nose when he highlights that part of the society. But this is a myopic view of things. The opposing argument is that baseball is reflective of our society given that the United States’ population has been shifting in a direction where Hispanics will one day be the majority.

But Keown is able to pen this article without too much fear of backlash because, oh sweet irony, he’s reflective of the culture we live in. Had his editorial been called “Is Basketball Too Black?” people would have been up in arms. Instead, the piece went largely unnoticed–even by us!– because our sociopolitical climate (think Herman Cain and his electric border wall) allows him to do so.

Or maybe I’m missing the point entirely. If that’s the case, and if Keown is not saying what I think he’s saying, then what exactly is his point? That there are or aren’t too many Hispanics in baseball? If the author’s original intent is to highlight a question that nobody seems to be asking, and he doesn’t provide an opinion one way or another, isn’t he (and ESPN) trolling?

Fidel Martinez is Managing Editor of Tu Vez.

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