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Anonymous scout dog whistles like crazy about Odubel Herrera

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Sports Illustrated’s Phillies preview contains an anonymous scout’s quote about outfielder Odubel Herrera. The quote was so bad — so full of old school racist dog whistling you used to so often hear about athletes of color — that SI went back and softened up the quote a few minutes ago.

Here’s the original version, answering the question, “Name the guy (or guys) on this team you would never want in your clubhouse.”

Herrera. I’m an old-school guy who likes guys who run balls out and run off and on the field and are focused on playing the game the right way. He’s the antithesis of Brett Gardner. He’s like a clown. From what I understand, it was a controversial signing internally, because none of their baseball people could stomach him, but Matt Klentak liked him because he’s a likable goofball kid. So they ended up putting the cash in his pocket, and what they’ve gotten out of it is a f****** dog who’s hurt them more than helped them.

Let’s break this down on the Telestrator:

  • At the start we’ve got a self-proclaimed “old school” guy who likes players who “play the game the right way,” which is a well-known, indefinable phrase, often deployed against players of color. Why don’t you like that player? “Well, he doesn’t play the game the right way.” How so? “HE JUST DOESN’T GO ABOUT HIS BUSINESS RIGHT, OK?”
  • Then we’ve got an unfavorable comparison to a white player, which, obviously.
  • Then we’ve got “clown.”
  • Then we’ve got one in “cash in his pocket,” which is a bit more subtle but which sticks out if you’ve read a little bit and if you’re familiar with some of the older racial stereotypes. Sure, cash is green, not black or white, but there’s a long history of stereotypes about an alleged or assumed lack of financial responsibility on the part of people of color, often referenced by them having “cash in their pockets” or “big rolls of cash” or something. The idea, which I’ll grant is a subtle one but which is very, very real in venerable stereotypes — go read some mid-century detective fiction if you really wanna see this one in action — is that people of color either don’t trust banks and/or carry around money from under-the-table sources and/or always want cash on hand for superfluous or irresponsible spending or what have you. I really don’t think a white player who this scout would’ve not signed has “cash in his pockets.” He’d have “signed a contract” or “agreed to a signing bonus” or, maybe, “got paid”;
  • He’s “a f****** dog” is, of course, on the other end of the subtlety spectrum.

As soon as those quotes started circulating someone must’ve called someone else because now the quotes reads like this:

Herrera. I’m an old-school guy who likes guys who run balls out and run off and on the field and are focused on playing the game the right way. From what I understand, it was a controversial signing internally. What they’ve gotten out of it is a [player] who’s hurt them more than helped them.

There is a disclaimer at the top of the article now which says “Editor’s Note: This article has been updated; the original version mistakingly included language that may be considered inappropriate or offensive. We regret the error.”

The worst part of this is that the story will likely cause people to turn this into a referendum on Herrera and his skills and attitude and stuff rather than scrutinizing a bunch of crappy racial dog-whistling. Let’s dispose of that, shall we? No, as far as baseball skills and, at least from what we’ve heard in various reports over the years, work ethic and deportment go, Herrera is not Mike Trout or Torii Hunter or any number of other players you can name. That’s not the point, though. The point is that it’s entirely possible — or at the very least should be entirely possible — to explain why you would not want Herrera on your team without trafficking in this trash.

At the very least, in case you wondered if there were still old school scouts who characterized guys like this, well, yeah, there are.

Nationals GM Rizzo won’t reveal length of Martinez’s new contract

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WASHINGTON — Dave Martinez spoke Saturday about managing the Washington Nationals for “many, many years” and over the “long term” and “quite some time,” thanks to his contract extension.

Sharing a table to a socially distanced degree with his manager on a video conference call to announce the new deal – each member of the duo sporting a 2019 World Series ring on his right hand – Nationals GM Mike Rizzo referred to the agreement’s “multiyear” nature, but repeatedly refused to reveal anything more specific in response to reporters’ questions.

“We don’t talk about terms as far as years, length and salaries and that type of thing. We’re comfortable with what we have and the consistency that we’re going to have down the road,” said Rizzo, who recently agreed to a three-year extension of his own. “That’s all we want to say about terms, because it’s private information and we don’t want you guys to know about it.”

When Martinez initially was hired by Rizzo in October 2017 – his first managing job at any level – the Nationals’ news release at the time announced that he was given a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year.

That 2021 option had not yet been picked up.

“The partnership that Davey and I have together, our communication styles are very similar. Our aspirations are similar, and kind of our mindset of how to obtain the goals that we want to obtain are similar. I think it’s a good match,” Rizzo said. “We couldn’t have hit on a more positive and enthusiastic leader in the clubhouse. I think you see it shine through even in the most trying times.”

The Nationals entered Saturday – Martinez’s 56th birthday – with a 23-34 record and in last place in the NL East, which Rizzo called “a disappointing season.” The team’s title defense was slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg threw just five innings because of a nerve issue in his pitching hand and players such as Starlin Castro, Sean Doolittle, Tanner Rainey, Adam Eaton and Carter Kieboom finished the year on the IL.

“This year, for me, we didn’t get it done. We had a lot of bumps in the road this year. But I really, fully believe, we’ve got the core guys here that we need to win another championship,” Martinez said. “I know Mike, myself, we’re going to spend hours and hours and hours trying to fill the void with guys we think can potentially help us in the future. And we’ll be back on the podium. I’m really confident about that.”

Rizzo was asked Saturday why the team announces contract lengths for players, as is common practice around the major leagues, but wouldn’t do so in this instance for Martinez.

“The reason is we don’t want anybody to know. That’s the reason,” Rizzo said, before asking the reporter: “How much do you make? How many years do you have?”

Moments later, as the back-and-forth continued, Rizzo said: “It’s kind of an individual thing with certain people. I don’t want you to know what I make or how many years I have. Davey doesn’t want you to know. And I think that it’s only fair … when people don’t want certain information out there, that we don’t give it.”

There were some calling for Martinez to lose his job last season when Washington got off to a 19-31 start. But Rizzo stood by his manager, and the team eventually turned things around, going 74-38 the rest of the way to reach the playoffs as an NL wild-card team.

The Nationals then beat the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals to reach the World Series, where they beat the Houston Astros in Game 7.

Washington joined the 1914 Boston Braves as the only teams in major league history to win a World Series after being 12 games below .500 during a season.

“Everything from Day 1 to where he’s gotten to now, he’s grown so much. He’s really become one of my favorite managers of all,” three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer said after helping Washington win Saturday’s opener of a doubleheader against the New York Mets. “Davey really understands how to manage a clubhouse, manage a team. We saw it in the postseason. He knows how to push the right buttons when everything is on the line.”