My son and I watched the All-Star Home Run Derby on ESPN Monday night, which was quite entertaining (as opposed to the actual game last night, which was putrid).
However, Joe Morgan said something in passing that didn't sit so well. Now, while I think Morgan is an excellent baseball analyst, I'm not a huge fan of his. He always seems to be acting as some sort of commissioner-at-large while the baseball world breathlessly awaits his pronouncements on what's good, bad, acceptable, and unacceptable. He also seems to be almost totally lacking a sense of humor, which leads to many awkward moments since his partner Jon Miller is quite funny.
Anyway, during the Home Run Derby, Morgan and Chris Berman were interviewing the great Frank Robinson, who was a Hall of Fame player and also Major League Baseball's first black manager. While talking, Morgan said almost in passing (and I'm quoting from memory here, so don't hold me to exact verbiage), "You know, Frank, one of the things I appreciated was being able to play for an African-American manager. I think most guys, if they had their preference, would have liked a chance to play for an African-American manager."
If I were to give Morgan the benefit of the doubt, I could chalk this up to him trying to find something complimentary to say from a personal standpoint about Robinson. Perhaps instead of stating the obvious ("So, Frank, you were the first black manager..."), he wanted to frame it in the first person, and it just came out clunky.
On the other hand, nobody else ever gets the benefit of the doubt on these things, so why should Joe Morgan? He's practically the pope of Major League Baseball, with every organization required to kiss his ring in order to appear "diverse." Yet if the same words had been uttered by a white former player, we all know that my blog wouldn't be the first place you'd be hearing about it.
Pat Riley interviewing the late Adolph Rupp: "Gosh, Coach, I've gotta tell you. It sure was great playing for a white coach on an all-white team when we won the national championship in 1966. I know a lot of other guys would have loved to have been on whiter teams."
Bret Favre commenting on Green Bay: "One of the great things about playing for the Packers is getting to play for a white coach like Mike Sherman. I know a lot of guys in Indianapolis and in the Meadowlands who'd love the opportunity to play for a white coach."
Think you'd have heard about those comments by now?