Hank Aaron: racists still exist. It’s just that “back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

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Hank Aaron dealt with a lot of blatant racism back when he was growing up in Alabama continuing on through his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s record. But as he notes in an interview with USA Today, racists are still around. They’re just wearing different clothes:

We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated.

“We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country.

“The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

Aaron went on to cite the decrease in the number of U.S.-born black baseball players as evidence of racism:

“When I first started playing, you had a lot of black players in the major leagues,” Aaron says. “Now, you don’t have any (7.7% of big-leaguers last season). So what progress have we made? You try to understand, but we’re going backward.”

I’ll agree with him on the first point. Yes, the obvious racism of the Jim Crow era is mostly eradicated or at least well-hidden, but structural and institutional racism still exists and is perpetuated through both intentional and unwitting means.

As for the number of black baseball players: well, there may be some structural racism involved there. A lack of funds for baseball programs in which young black kids can play while expensive traveling youth leagues — available primarily to white players — proliferate. But there is a lot more going on there too. The popularity of other sports like football and basketball among them. And, as we’ve noted several times, baseball may have fewer U.S.-born black players involved, but it is more diverse than ever once you account for all of the foreign born players.

In any event, I’m happy to hear Aaron speaking out about this. There has been this sense of Aaron being elevated into some grandfatherly elder statesman of baseball. Which, yes, in many ways he is. But when people get that treatment they’re usually expected to no longer say controversial or uncomfortable things. To be above the fray, as it were, like other members of the royal class. I’m glad Aaron doesn’t feel like his enormous popularity prevents him from saying things that may make some folks uncomfortable.

Royals acquire Brian Goodwin from Nationals

Brian Goodwin
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The Royals have acquired outfielder Brian Goodwin from the Nationals, the teams announced Sunday. The Nationals received minor league right-handed reliever Jacob Condra-Bogan in the deal.

Goodwin, 27, was working through his third campaign with the Nationals in 2018. He saw limited playing time in the outfield (mostly due to the trifecta of talent the club already had in Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, and Juan Soto), and finished the first half of the season with a .200/.321/.354 batting line, three home runs, three stolen bases and a .674 OPS in just 79 plate appearances. The Royals, who appear thin on compelling center field options at the moment, are expected to utilize him on a more frequent basis once he’s added to the active roster.

The 23-year-old Condra-Bogan has yet to break into the majors with any team so far. He got his start in pro ball in 2017 with the independent Washington WildThings of the Frontier League and issued three runs, three walks and 15 strikeouts over 15 1/3 innings before signing on with the Royals as a free agent. This season, he pitched to an impressive 2.08 ERA, 0.7 BB/9 and 13.5 SO/9 through 26 innings in Single-A Lexington before getting transferred to High-A Wilmington for a single appearance. The Nationals have not announced where he’ll be assigned for the remainder of 2018.