Must-click link: studying the words scouts use to describe black players vs. white players

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This is not about baseball, it’s about football actually. But it’s a topic we’ve discussed here many times over the years, so it’s fair game: Deadspin has thrown the scouting reports on nearly 400 players in this year’s NFL Draft into a database and you can now search it to see how often any given word or phrase is used to describe black players vs. white players.

Even now, after years and years of people recognizing the subtle, often unwitting racial judgments that weigh on certain descriptors — white players are “hard workers,” black players are “gifted,” white players are “intelligent,” black players have “instincts” — there is still a pretty marked difference in how players of different races are described in 2014, showing you that cliches and attitudes about race die extremely hard.

Here are some of my sample searches. Remember: there were substantially more scouting reports in the system for black players than white players and thus many more words written about them. The results on top of the graphs normalize it out as occurrences per 10,000 words:

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I will give some kudos to the scouts for using “scrappy” more often with black players than white players. Let’s hear it for our bold new colorblind era!

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Seriously, though, this is kinda nuts in this day and age. Just imagine what older scouting reports — like all of those that are archived about baseball players going back 30 or 40 years — would look like if given this treatment. These days scouts know enough to not use the term “articulate” to describe a black person they find to be charming, but I wonder how often that noise popped up in 1975 or whenever.

Anyway, kudos to Deadspin for putting this together and letting us all run our own searches. And a hearty “buzz-off” to those people who think that old racial attitudes totally died off and disappeared when the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Randy Johnson IS Nuke LaLoosh in the Dbacks’ remake of “Bull Durham”

Arizona Diamondbacks
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Over the weekend the Arizona Diamondbacks unveiled their 20th Anniversary Team, as voted on by Dbacks fans. Among the quite obvious inclusions were Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez and Paul Goldschmidt. Others included Miguel Montero at catcher, Jay Bell at second Tony Womack at short, Matt Williams at third and Steve Finley and A.J. Pollock in the outfield. The rest of the team — there’s a full rotation, relievers and backups too — can be found here. There will be a ceremony at Chase Field in honor of the franchise’s 20th anniversary, with the all-time Dbacks team being introduced.

In the runup to that, however, there is time for some fun promotion. Like the video below in with some of the members of the 20th anniversary team reenacting the mound meeting scene from “Bull Durham.”

Miguel Montero carries it — he’s the only one who seems to have acting chops in the scene — but team CEO Derrick Hall is the MVP for his camcorder wave in my view. Oh, and extra credit to Bob Brenly and Luis Gonzalez for wearing the 2001 uniforms: