Must-click link: studying the words scouts use to describe black players vs. white players

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This is not about baseball, it’s about football actually. But it’s a topic we’ve discussed here many times over the years, so it’s fair game: Deadspin has thrown the scouting reports on nearly 400 players in this year’s NFL Draft into a database and you can now search it to see how often any given word or phrase is used to describe black players vs. white players.

Even now, after years and years of people recognizing the subtle, often unwitting racial judgments that weigh on certain descriptors — white players are “hard workers,” black players are “gifted,” white players are “intelligent,” black players have “instincts” — there is still a pretty marked difference in how players of different races are described in 2014, showing you that cliches and attitudes about race die extremely hard.

Here are some of my sample searches. Remember: there were substantially more scouting reports in the system for black players than white players and thus many more words written about them. The results on top of the graphs normalize it out as occurrences per 10,000 words:

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I will give some kudos to the scouts for using “scrappy” more often with black players than white players. Let’s hear it for our bold new colorblind era!

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Seriously, though, this is kinda nuts in this day and age. Just imagine what older scouting reports — like all of those that are archived about baseball players going back 30 or 40 years — would look like if given this treatment. These days scouts know enough to not use the term “articulate” to describe a black person they find to be charming, but I wonder how often that noise popped up in 1975 or whenever.

Anyway, kudos to Deadspin for putting this together and letting us all run our own searches. And a hearty “buzz-off” to those people who think that old racial attitudes totally died off and disappeared when the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.