Outspoken White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is at it again. Never one to be afraid of speaking his mind, Guillen has this time criticized Major League Baseball for their treatment of Latino players, especially in relation to how they treat ballplayers of other races.
Guillen claims that Latino ballplayers aren’t afforded the same luxuries as foreign players from places like Asia. He uses the example of an A-class affiliate, where there are 17 Latino players and 1 Korean player. The Korean player makes more money than all the other Latino players combined, says Ozzie, and has his own translator while the only person on the team that speaks both Spanish and English is his son, Oney.
Guillen makes a decent point about how certain luxuries are afforded onto non-Latino players, but he’s still misguided in his views. Latino players do generally come at a lower cost than players recruited from Asia, but players from Asia are also much more often polished professionals than what you’d find in South America, as well as bigger investments, and it should come as no surprise that these players are given a higher status than their Latino counterparts. It is also much easier for a native speaker of Spanish to learn how to speak English than it would be for someone to learn English that speaks Japanese or Korean. While Asians are also often the only members of their team to speak their own language, there are many Spanish speaking players on any given team. Using Guillen’s example, there are 17 Spanish speakers to 1 Korean speaker on the White Sox minor league affiliate. Coaches may not be able to speak Spanish, but considering how much of baseball is now Latino (especially in the lower levels), there should be no surprise that coaches have found a way to communicate with their non-English speaking players.
The claim is also made that Major League Baseball is trying to push Latino players towards using Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PEDs. In Guillen’s own words, ““It’s somebody behind the scene making money out of those kids and telling them to take something they’re not supposed to,” Guillen said. “If you tell me, you take this … you’re going to be Vladimir Guerrero, you’re going to be Miguel Cabrera, you’re going to be this guy … I’ll do it. Because I have seven brothers that sleep in the same room. I have to take care of my mother, my dad. … Out of this I’m going to make money to make them better.”
This is a more serious claim than it may appear to be on the surface. While many have accused Major League Baseball of turning a blind eye towards steroid and PED use in the past (especially turning the historic 1998 Home Run Chase), not many have said that the MLB is actively promoting use of PEDs among players, especially someone in a position of influence like Guillen. There is also the absurdity of claiming that baseball is pushing performance enhancing drugs on a group of players that make up about 1/3rd of the entire baseball playing population. Wouldn’t the MLB higher-ups have the foresight to know that pushing PEDs upon that many players is likely to eventually get out, and cause a whole new can of worms to be opened upon baseball?
There is also the fact that Ozzie is, once again, trying to draw attention to himself. He is notorious for this, and he doesn’t make himself look all that humble when he claims that he is the only person in baseball who cares about the plight of the Latino players, and that Major League Baseball doesn’t care about anything he does except when he argues with the umpires or talks to the media.
When you get down to the heart of the matter, Guillen is a guy who genuinely does care about how Latino players are treated, but doesn’t seem to think before he speaks. He may sometimes ask the right questions, but he seems to always end up with the wrong answers. Ozzie, it’s not about race, or a personal vendetta against you by baseball – it’s just not. Get a clue.