Red Sox broadcaster and former major leaguer Jerry Remy apparently wasn’t fazed by the pushback Phillies broadcaster Mike Schmidt got on Tuesday for saying outfielder Odubel Herrera‘s “language barrier” prevents him from being a player the Phillies can build around.
During the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka was visited on the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild as well as his translator. Tanaka is from Japan and has a personal translator as part of his seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees.
As Tanaka’s translator left the mound and play was about to resume, Remy offered his unsolicited opinion on foreign players using translators. “I don’t think that should be legal,” Remy said. “I really don’t.”
Play-by-play broadcaster Dave O’Brien asked Remy, “What is it you don’t like about that?”
Remy replied, “Learn baseball language. It’s pretty simple. You break it down pretty easy between pitching coach and pitcher after a long period of time.”
Of course, “learn baseball language,” is a dogwhistle term for “learn English.” Allowing translators is how baseball is made available to players across the globe, which is great for the sport. It’s just not great for the white guys who are so accustomed to the privilege of English being the default language that they never think to learn a second language themselves; they expect others to do it for them. The United States is often described as a “melting pot” — meaning it’s diverse — but according to SwiftKey, the U.S. is one of the top three trailers in bilingualism.
Meghan Montemurro noted in her column about the Schmidt issue on Tuesday that Phillies manager Pete Mackanin speaks Spanish in addition to English, which allows him to be a better communicator. More and more players are coming to play Major League Baseball from overseas and soon, being bilingual will be a prerequisite for consideration for a managing position. You can’t teach an old white man new tricks — or Spanish, in this case — but the rest of us will make a mutual effort to communicate with our peers.