Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter has landed himself in hot water as a result of seemingly racist comments he made to USA Today.
"People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African American," Hunter apparently said of some Major League Baseball players. "They're not us. They're impostors."
Despite the controversial nature of these remarks, media outside of the sports pages and talk radio have mostly been mum.
What makes this even tougher to believe is that according to the article sportswriter Bob Nightengale published Tuesday, that's not even close to all Hunter had to say on this subject:
"Even people I know come up and say, 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' " [...]
"As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us," Hunter says. "It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?'
"I'm telling you, it's sad."
Hunter has fired back at USA Today claiming he was misquoted:
Hunter, who directs a large share of his charitable efforts to the development [sic] baseball in disadvantaged neighborhoods and has won awards for his community service, said his comments "were distorted and taken out of context."
And he was in no mood for an apology.
"I'm not apologizing to nobody because I didn't do anything," Hunter said. "I didn't say anything like that.… I'm upset.… And people wonder why athletes don't talk to the media. It's stupid. They took one negative thing and ran with it.
"That wasn't even the main topic of the discussion. That was a piece of the conversation, .5% of 100%. The main topic was that there are not enough scholarships for baseball.... It was a positive story. I try to get a lot of inner-city kids to play the game. I've done the research. That's why I have all the programs."
For the record, I'm a HUGE Torii Hunter fan. This is a fabulous talent, and by all accounts a marvelous representative of the teams he's played for.
But also for the record, outside of the sports press, his statements have gone largely ignored.
According to LexisNexis, not ONE national, non-sports oriented television news outlet has reported his comments. NOT ONE.
As for print, besides USA Today and the LA papers, this has gotten little coverage.
Would the media have boycotted such statements if a white baseball player made them, regardless of who he was or what he's done for the community?
If the answer is "No," then why the double standard?
While you ponder, readers should also know what Hunter likely meant by his "bag of chips" comment.
Folks that I've spoken to concerning this issue say that scouts recruit from the Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries because they can find young talent for much less money than in high schools and colleges across America.
As such, Hunter's point might have been a valid one.
Yet, when it comes to comments folks consider racist, the truth isn't necessarily a defense is it?