Thank you to David Kane for allowing me the opportunity to respond to issues brought up on this blog. I would like to say that, although I’m part of VISTA, I feel as though you can’t take a statement drafted by two people as representative of the entire Latina/o population at Williams. I will offer my own viewpoints that are not necessarily those of my peers.
If you listen to the entire radio broadcast, the radio host asks Dave Barnard to go over the entire incident resulting in the bench-clearing push and shove match between the Red Sox and the Yankees. He begins his argument by speaking on baseball’s generally aggressive style of play, where pitchers do throw at batters to show dominance, but goes on to say that he “do[esn’t] think it’s a coincidence that [this incident] involves Latin[o] players”. In fact, he goes on to say “when you asked me to come on the show I was thinking back to a couple years ago SNL used to have a skit called ‘�Qui�n es m�s macho?’, ‘Who is more macho?'” I think referring to SNL as a starting point in his discussion made it difficult to believe that this was legitimate intellectual discussion, but that’s just me.
Before I go into the rest of my argument, however, I should point out that it’s not “machismo” that would cause Pedro Martinez to throw at Karim Garcia’s head (given Pedro Martinez’s superb command of his pitches, it doesn’t take much to infer that throwing so far up and in was a conscious decision); it is stupidity, irresponsibility, and a true sign of cowardice. Why bother respecting or fearing the repercussions of such an act when you yourself never have to step into the batter’s box in the bottom of the inning? At worst, the opposing pitcher would plunk the next guy at bat. This seems real sensible and ?macho?? let your teammates take the punishment for your cowardice. Such is the way of the American League and the DH rule, but I digress?
Now, onto the “fisking” of Coach Barnard’s comments?
Coach Barnard, in his infinite wisdom, decided to impart on us a definitive statement on Latino (not Latin? Latin = dead language, Latina/o = of Latin American descent) culture when he says,
“it’s a cultural thing with Latin[o] players in terms of the machismo thing. It’s a cultural thing with Latin[o] players and their territory.”
To speak with such an air of confidence (i.e. not saying “I think” or “Perhaps”) one would expect Coach to back up his statements. He does not. David Kane doubts whether it’s worthwhile to separate opinion from fact in this matter. He says,
“Opinions are all that you have in any discussion of this type. Some of those opinions are better — more informed, more persuasive, better supported by the evidence — than others, but it is stupid to play the naive positivist game.”
I don’t think it’s so trivial. Given the fact that there are a number of baseball statistic firms that provide us with all kinds of useless information, it’s not a stretch to believe that one could, through some data collection, prove whether or not Barnard’s assertion is true. While I don’t expect Barnard to do any such thing (nor do I want to myself), the facts aren’t irrelevant. Thus I state that Barnard is unprofessional in his statements without justification.
To refute this claim, David K tells us, “Barnard was the very picture of professionalism throughout the entire dispute. He made a casual observation (outside of Williams), backed up that observation in writing, and offered to meet in public debate or private discussion with anyone honestly looking to explore the question of the influences of culture on baseball, if any.”
Like I said, I don’t think he backed up his claim, so I suppose we’ll agree to disagree on that point (at least for now). I do think he handled the situation relatively well after the fact. The irony is, however, that he originally issued an apology to VISTA members who e-mailed him after the incident (alas, it is gone from my inbox). I suspect that speaking to higher-ups made him change his tone. If you read my post on WSO, you’ll see why I even bring this up many months after the fact. I argue that you should not discredit someone with something you say unless you can back it up. Hence, I feel that coach Barnard’s statements were inappropriate. Feel free to respond to either this post or the WSO post. I actually think the WSO post has a lot more to say than the discussion on Coach Barnard can offer.
The subsequent comments on Latino Studies after Kane’s post deserve a “fisking” of their own. Alas, I think I’ve given enough fodder for discussion for now. I’ll post on that soon.