Matt Kemp gets dragged into Donald Sterling controversy

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Deadspin has obtained an alleged 15-minute audio recording of Clippers owner Donald Sterling spouting racist opinions about minorities during an April 9 conversation with then-mistress V. Stiviano. Deadspin’s version contains something that the original nine-minute tape from TMZ did not — a mention of a Major League Baseball player.

So let’s join all the other media outlets in the country and dive into this cesspool of bigotry. Here’s the relevant excerpt from Deadspin’s story:

Poor Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp is also dragged into the conversation, having appeared in an Instagram photo with V. Stiviano. It was her photo with Magic Johnson that had apparently started the fight.

V: Honey, if it makes you happy, I will remove all of the black people from my Instagram.

DS: You said that before, you said, “I understand.”

V: I DID remove the people that were independently on my Instagram that are black.

DS: Then why did you start saying that you didn’t? You just said that you didn’t remove them. You didn’t remove every—

V: I didn’t remove Matt Kemp and Magic Johnson, but I thought—

DS: Why?

V: I thought Matt Kemp is mixed, and he was OK, just like me.

DS: OK.

V: He’s lighter and whiter than me.

DS: OK.

V: I met his mother.

DS: You think I’m a racist, and wouldn’t—

V: I don’t think you’re a racist.

DS: Yes you do. Yes you do.

V: I think you, you—

DS: Evil heart.

The NBA is conducting an investigation into the veracity of the recording. LeBron James told reporters Saturday that if the audio is found to be legit, there is “no room for Donald Sterling in our league.”

Check out ProBasketballTalk for extensive coverage of this story. We’re hopefully done with it.

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UPDATE, 3:40 p.m. ET: Kemp responded on Sunday: “Racism is kind of old.”

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.