Fans unfurl “Racism is as American as baseball” banner on the Green Monster

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During Wednesday night’s game between the Athletics and Red Sox, fans sitting behind Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” in left field unfurled a black banner with white text that read, “Racism is as American as Baseball.” Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe snapped a photo:

The fans, as Abraham noted, were quickly ejected and their banner confiscated.

Fenway Park is no stranger to issues concerning racism, as Orioles outfielder Adam Jones had racial slurs directed at him and had peanuts thrown at him earlier this year. Additionally, last month, Red Sox owner John Henry said he was “haunted” by the racist past of former owner Tom Yawkey. Henry suggested renaming Yawkey Way, the two-block street that runs from Brookline Avenue to Boylston Street.

A host of non-white players past and present have said they have experienced racism in Boston in particular. CC Sabathia said, “I’ve never been called the N-word” anywhere else but in Boston. He added, “We know. There’s 62 of us. We all know. When you go to Boston, expect it.”

Current Red Sox pitcher David Price said he has had racial slurs directed his way while in Boston. When center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. struggled in 2014, he said Boston fans directed racist taunts in his direction. All-time great slugger Barry Bonds said he would never play for the Red Sox because Boston is “too racist for me.”

The statement on the banner is a bit ambiguous, as it can be read as both pro-racism and anti-racism. However, given the above context and since racists rarely operate while openly admitting that they are racist, it is probabilistically reasonable to interpret it as an anti-racist statement. We’ll probably learn more about the intent as the ejected fans are likely to garner some press following the stunt.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.