Gary Sheffield cut to the heart of the matter and was quickly cut down.
His comments in the new GQ have been twisted, dissected and turned around. He has been called everything from a loudmouth to a racist.
“I called it years ago,” Sheffield said in the magazine. “What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out. ... [It's about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do – being able to control them.”
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen clarified:
“It’s not that they can control us; maybe when we come to this country, we’re hungry,” Guillen said. “We’re trying to survive. Those guys sign for $500,000 or $1 million and they’re made. We have a couple of dollars. You can sign one African American player for the price of 30 Latin players.”
Yes, control is at the heart of the matter: Financial control.
Major League Baseball is an American corporation and like all American corporations it craves exploitable commodities. As Guillen points out, Latin players are a huge pool of cheap labor.
That’s the real issue Major League Baseball doesn’t want anyone talking about. Pitting African Americans against Latin Americans is the easiest way to gloss over baseball’s sweatshop operation. If the workers squabble amongst themselves they won’t fight Bud Selig and the team owners who are exploiting all of them.
“When you see Major League Baseball putting academies in other countries, obviously that throws up a red flag,” Sheffield said yesterday. “You wonder why they ain’t going up in our neighborhood. Bottom line, what I see, I talk about. I see it over and over. If anybody can show me I’m wrong, then show me.”
Sheffield is right. Teams don’t have academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela because they care about the people in those countries. They have them because the can develop and sign players cheaply.
And they are always looking for new pools of cheap labor, which is why we’re hearing so much about China these days. It’s never about growing baseball. It’s always about growing wealth.
Sheffield – with some help from Guillen – cut to the heart of it, but people at the top don’t want anyone talking about issues that could cut into the bottom line.