Yu Darvish reacted “graciously” to Yuli Gurriel’s racist gesture and slur. He didn’t have to.

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As we reported on earlier, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel appeared to mock Dodgers starter Yu Darvish in a racist way after homering off of him in the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series, pulling his eyes down to slant them and saying the word, “chinito,” which translates to “little Chinese.”

After the game, Darvish tweeted a call for fans to be positive, rather than directing anger at Gurriel. He wrote, “No one is perfect. That includes both you and I. What he had done today isn’t right, but I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. If we can take something from this, that is a giant step for mankind. Since we are living in such a wonderful world, let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger. I’m counting on everyone’s big love.”

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Darvish did find Gurriel’s behavior to be “disrespectful” and racially motivated. He believes Gurriel should be punished.

After Darvish’s message circulated around Twitter, many in the media rushed to laud Darvish for being so gracious towards Gurriel. Darvish, of course, can react as a victim of racism any way he pleases. There’s an issue, though, when society rewards victims of racism for reacting in a way that takes the heat off of the offender. To say that Darvish’s reaction was “gracious” and “classy” is also to imply that reacting differently would not be “gracious” and “classy.” Praising Darvish also puts societal pressure on other victims of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. to react in the same way. It invalidates their anger and hurt. And most victims of such bigotry don’t have the same support of a strong union, their co-workers, family, and friends, among other things. They may not be able to afford to tolerate it in the same way.

The next time a player acts in a bigoted way towards another player (or a coach or fan or anyone, really), and the target of said bigotry gets angry, people will criticize that person for not being as forgiving as Darvish was to Gurriel. That person’s response will be tone-policed.

Anger is often seen as a bad emotion. It makes one irrational, the common thought goes, and it makes other people feel uncomfortable. But anger is a perfectly valid emotion and it is a suitable response to bigotry. Oftentimes, anger is the motivation society needs to create change. Would we have given women the right to vote, desegregated, and legalized gay marriage if people responded to bigots the way Darvish did to Gurriel? Of course not. We should remember this the next time an incident like this occurs and a player doesn’t react as calmly and politely as Darvish. That reaction will be just as valid as Darvish’s.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.