The Phoenix Suns gave us the “Los Suns” jerseys. What are the chances we
see “Los Tigres” or “Los D’backs”?
Excellent question, Charles. And very a propos considering all that has been going on down there on the border. It’s also an interesting question because baseball is a sport dominated by Latin players. If you’ll forgive me for making a very broad generalization, Hispanic-Americans love baseball and also seem to be unfairly targeted by what has been going on. So, what do we do?
Well, it’s nice that the Suns made this display of solidarity especially since it’s their state. And baseball has already been in the business of reaching out to the Latino community since the days of Roberto Clemente. But it takes more than some slogans on a t-shirt. Yes, it’s an important gesture but sports are such an integral part of the fabric of America that there’s much more they can do to educate people.
And when it comes to education, no sport is quite out front of the curve like baseball. Roberto Clemente paved the way for Latinos in baseball but he also made them more visible in society. It goes without saying that Jackie Robinson’s impact rippled far beyond the confines of the stadiums in which he played.
In fact, even now baseball has an unprecedented ability to make a huge impact in this situation. No, they can’t overturn the law. But they could encourage all the teams that use Arizona as a spring training base to move out and even offer financial incentives to teams who choose to do so. If they wanted to do something really drastic, why not say that the Diamondbacks will have to play their home games in a neighboring state until the situation is addressed. No, MLB can’t overturn the law but they can make it mighty painful for those who enacted it.
Baseball is sport but it’s also business. And one of the touchstones for businesses recently is the idea of corporate social responsibility. Companies give back to the communities in which they operate and attempt to show that they are good citizens. Well, considering the make up of the league and its most rabid fan base, baseball’s corporate social responsibility would seem to extend directly to this situation.
Sports and particularly baseball have the ability to change society. Cute translations of teams’ names makes for good press and nice t-shirts but if they really want to take up the mantle once again and make a real difference, more drastic action is needed. So let’s see it Bud. Have the D’backs play their home games in Vegas or Albuquerque and let’s see how long this law stays on the books. Jim Crow didn’t last long after Jackie. I bet SB1070 wouldn’t either.