Rod Allen

Tigers broadcaster Rod Allen apologizes to the little people

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I don’t get the sense that Tigers’ broadcaster Rod Allen is a bad guy. I think he’s a lot like someone’s father or grandfather who just really isn’t all that plugged in with the sensibilities of modern public discourse. Which, because he’s a broadcaster and not, like someone’s grandfather, simply some guy who talks with the fellas at the coffee shop, gets him in trouble from time to time.

Back in July he got into some trouble after saying that some Hispanic players’ reward for good play was going to be “rice and beans” in the clubhouse.  I never got the slightest sense that he was being racist about anything, it just was something that was not artfully put. He apologized.

Last night it happened again.  As he was talking about how Buffalo was his favorite minor league city, he noted some of the fun promotions and entertainments that went down there:

“The atmosphere at the ballpark was second-to-none. They had people at the concession stands that were dancing on top of the dugouts. They had some midgets around, they had some giants around.”

While not exactly at the forefront of the politics of minority discourse, it has been the case for some time that the term “midgets” is considered derogatory and that those who once were referred to as such prefer to be called “little people.”

Someone obviously told this to Allen during a break because he came back and apologized for using the term. I think it’s pretty clear that it was just something he wasn’t aware of — I’m sure a lot of people aren’t aware of it — and his apology sounded 100% genuine. This is firmly in the “hey, it happens” category and no one should hold any ill will toward Allen about it going forward.

But I note it anyway, not in an “OMG, look what Allen said!” kind of way, but because I think that there’s a useful takeaway here.  That takeaway is that, though many people will likely say that this is no big deal and turn this into some “political correctness run amok” debate, I think people should have a right to be called what they wish to be called.  If the people who were once referred to as midgets want to be little people, they’re little people. A group’s self-identity should be an inviolate right.

Of course there are two sides to that, and the other side is the dissemination of that public identity. I’m sure that Allen had no idea that little people prefer to be known as little people before last night. But he does now. As do the people who read this.  If you don’t know and you use some out-of-favor term, hey, no biggie.  But if you do know and you continue to use the out-of-favor term, you’re just being an ass, ya know?

Apologies to asses, however, if they prefer to be called something else. If you tell me what the term is, I’ll start using it.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]

Russell Martin is not a fan of the automatic intentional walk

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after being struck out in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game two of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it was announced that Major League Baseball instituted a new rule allowing for a dugout signal in order to issue an intentional walk rather than having the pitcher throw four pitches wide of the strike zone. It’s commissioner Rob Manfred’s attempt to help improve the game’s pace of play.

As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin is certainly not a fan of the change.

My thing is, if they really want to speed up the game, then when a guy hits a home run, to speed up the game should a guy, just like in softball, when he hits it, should he just walk to the dugout? It’d be quicker. I’m just wondering, at what point do we just keep the game, the game? Or, how about this calculation: take all the intentional walks that were made in the last couple years and calculate – or maybe just ask to see if they have that information, to see if they really did their homework. Is it really that important to speed up the game (with this rule)? Because how many games did we play last year where we didn’t have one intentional walk? That’s something I’d like to know.

Martin also expressed concern that eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk will hurt teams’ ability to buy time for their relievers to warm up.

It’s called getting your bullpen ready so the guy doesn’t blow out his arm on the mound. Speed up the game, speed up the game.’ How about we just give guys – the human being – time to warm up on the mound after maybe something’s happened in the game? I’m not a manager, but I’m just trying to put myself in the position of a manager. OK, we’re up by one run or two runs and our bullpen’s been taxed and we’re trying to save their arms, and then the other team walks, ball gets away, guy gets to second base. When the coach visits the mound to talk to his player, it’s not like the player necessarily needs somebody to talk to him.

It’s because the guy (in the bullpen) needs time to warm up, man. It’s the same thing when you throw over to first base, like, eight times in a row. It’s not like we’re trying to keep the guy close. The guy maybe has two stolen bases in 18 years. It’s because the guy needs time to warm up. At what point does that become a problem with guys warming up in the bullpen? Sometimes it’s just strategy to give guys a little bit of time to warm up.

The Jays’ backstop then said he’d prefer if Manfred were honest about the intent behind this rule change and others which have been proposed. Martin said, “Save it. I’m tired of hearing that same lame excuse all the time. Just be honest. If they’re honest about it, we’ll get over it. But don’t hide behind the fans.”

We should be hearing from a handful of players about the new intentional walk rule in the coming days. I can’t imagine the rule is very popular among the players.