Diamondbacks designate Ryan Roberts for assignment; trade coming

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Ryan Roberts was perhaps the most pleasant surprise in Arizona’s pleasantly surprising 2011 season, taking over as the team’s third baseman and finishing with 19 homers and 18 steals in 143 games.

Alas, an encore was not meant to be. The 31-year-old Roberts, who lost his starting job last month, was designated for assignment Tuesday after hitting .250/.306/.357 in 252 at-bats this season. The move made room for fellow infielder John McDonald to return from the DL. Given that Roberts had never shown so much power in previous seasons, the decline wasn’t much of a surprise. Plus, even during his breakthrough season, he hit a modest .249.

A trade is likely forthcoming. Roberts is due only about $900,000 over the rest of the season and he offers plenty of versatility (besides third base, he can play second and both corner outfield spots), so a few teams could be interested in bringing him in. The Rays and A’s would be among the logical destinations. The Tigers were also known to want him, but that was before they acquired Omar Infante yesterday.

Update: Roberts told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert that the Diamondbacks informed him a trade is already on the one-yard line. It sounds like it could happen within the next 24 hours.

The Yankees stopped playing Kate Smith’s version of “God Bless America”

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The Yankees have played “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch since 9/11. The version they play is the most famous version, recorded in 1939 by Kate Smith. As of today they will no longer be playing the Kate Smith version, however.

Why? The New York Daily News reports that it’s because “the Yankees were made aware of Smith’s history of potential racism.” Which is a rather interesting way of putting it, because there’s not much “potential” to this:

Smith was a famous singer before and during WWII who recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among other treats. She shot a video for that song that takes place in an orphanage for black children, and much of the imagery is startlingly racist. She also recorded, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which included the lyrics, “Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

I’m guessing this information was available in some Kate Smith biography or is in the memory of some of her big fans who may still be alive, but it was news to the Yankees until recently and once they learned it they decided that going with a version of the song NOT sung by Kate Smith was better. Good call!

Oh, and this was not the first time that the Yankees had to make this kind of call. Ten years ago they fired Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who used to sing the song at the ballpark during the postseason, after he made anti-Semitic remarks. Precedent, baby.

Anyway, I’m sure someone will complain about this, but I feel like there are better hills to die on than “the Yankees should continue to play the racist lady’s version of the show tune that, despite what we think of it now, was never meant as an actual patriotic anthem.”

If you feel like dying on that hill, be my guest. But please, show your work.