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The New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox clash over ‘racist’ joke

With emotions already running high between them, it was perhaps inevitable that the teams would end butting heads.

Paul Rudder
Was Yankees' Josh Donaldson's 'joke' about White Sox's Tim Anderson racist?
Chicago TribuneGetty

It was a heated Saturday afternoon in more than one way when the Yankees met the White Sox as seen when both benches cleared in response to a confrontation, but that came after a very questionable moment.

Did Yankees’ Josh Donaldson make a racist comment?

It was the third inning of the game and the Yankees’ Josh Donaldson had just rounded second base after what was the final out of the inning, when he began to exchange words with Tim Anderson of the White Sox. “He just made a disrespectful comment,” Anderson said. “Basically he was trying to call me Jackie Robinson. ‘What’s up, Jackie?’ I don’t play like that. I don’t really play at all. I wasn’t really going to bother nobody today, but he made the comment and you know it was disrespectful and I don’t think it was called for. It was unnecessary.”

The comment was of course in reference to the famous Jackie Robinson who broke the Major League Baseball color barrier in 1947 becoming the first black player to play in the league. Today every team in the league has retired his No. 42 in honor of the struggle, sacrifice and social impact that he had both on the game and wider society. For his part Donaldson who is white actually admitted after the game to calling Anderson who is black, “Jackie” in the first inning. This would of course explain why they began to have a go at each other in the third. Donaldson also went on to apologize saying that he meant no disrespect, as he explained that his comment was in reference to a 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated in which Anderson described himself as feeling like “today’s Jackie Robinson” in how he’s “getting to a point where I need to change the game.” Donaldson also claimed that it was something he had “joked around” with Anderson about in the past. Anderson, however, made it clear that offense was indeed taken.

Digging deeper into Josh Donaldson’s ‘joke’

When asked about the situation, White Sox manager Tony La Russa made clear on which side of the fence he stood. “He made a racist comment, Donaldson, and that’s all I’m going to say. That’s as strong as it gets,” La Russa said. Yet the Donaldson, a former AL MVP maintains that he in no way had any racist intentions. Donaldson went further, disclosing that he had in fact told his teammates of the entire situation and that he would be willing to meet with Anderson who is an All-Star shortstop to discuss the incident. “My meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter,” Donaldson said. “Obviously, he deemed it disrespectful. And look, if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do by any manner and that’s what happened.”

How things got worse between the Yankees and White Sox

If there is one thing that should be said when looking at this situation, it’s that these two players have a bit of a history. Back on May 13th when the Yankees and White Sox met in Chicago, the benches cleared when Anderson took issue with what he believed was a hard tag by Donaldson. Why is that important? On Saturday, Donaldson claimed he was “trying to defuse” any tensions that may still have existed. What is clear now is that he failed to do so. As he approached the plate in the fifth inning, White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal stood up and began to verbally have a go at Donaldson. It didn’t take long before the benches cleared and there was pushing, shoving and shouting. La Russa could also be seen shouting at Donaldson, while Anderson himself had to be restrained by Jose Abreu and Gavin sheets. “Believe me, you don’t want me to tell you guys what I told him,” Grandal said post game.

The Yankees, White Sox and MLB have a problem to solve

With emotions still running high, it’s certain that there will be more on this scenario in the coming days, but for the moment it would seem that there is some more investigation that needs to happen. “This game went through a period in time where a lot of those comments were meant, and I think we’re way past that,” Grandal said after the game. “And it’s just unacceptable. I just thought it was a low blow and I want to make sure I’ve got team’s back. There’s no way that you’re allowed to say something like that.” Yankees manager Aaron Boone would not be drawn on the incident, but admitted he would look into it saying, “I know...some talk of that. I’ve got to get to the bottom of it.” Where MLB itself is concerned, it’s understood that they will be investigating the matter and holding talks with all parties who were involved. As for the Yankees and White Sox, they will meet again on Sunday.


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