I do admit that it's hard to take allegations of racism seriously when they are brought up by a player whom I think isn't playing his best and compares a blow-out to one of the most well-known incidents of police brutality. I take my baseball seriously and any lolly-gagging on the field puts you on my shit list. But when Milton Bradley let loose last week, I needed little time to come to the conclusion that I believe him.
As a die-hard Cubs fan, I don't think we're all racists - check that, I do think all people are racist to some degree. Think back to the last time you double checked that your car doors were locked or double clutched your purse. Yeah, I'm guilty too. But are we Cub Nation a bunch of hate-filled racists? No. Do we take our baseball seriously and act without thinking? Yes. We say things at the ball park we might not say in our living rooms, we throw cups of beer on the field and sometimes at players, and we boo as if Charlie Brown is playing all 9 positions. Do we ever take it too far? I'd say yes. Are the hate comments Bradley coming from a very small percentage of Cub "fans" that aren't representative of us as a whole? Hell yes. But it doesn't mean that it isn't happening and isn't something that needs to be addressed.
I do think that incidents are fewer than Bradley suggests, yet far more than most of the Chicago sports media wants to admit. And I get that. First of all Wrigley is a destination. It tries to play off as family friendly and racist comments don't fit into that picture. And I believe this is why we have Billy Williams and Lou Pinella telling Bradley to just ignore the comments. Thankfully Neil Hayes admits that we have a problem at Wrigley:
Sixty-two years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, it would be nice to think we have moved beyond the hateful and ignorant words that occasionally still spill out of the stands. Evidently, we haven't. Sadly enough, Bradley's home ballpark has a reputation for such ugliness, leaving him with little choice but to do what Robinson did and turn the ugly utterances into motivation. Bradley can honor the great man by distilling the taunts into a propellant that will lift his game to a level that will silence racists and win over critics.
But is silencing racists by playing hard the real answer? No. It's just a band-aid. I don't think that Wrigley is the only place to find racist sport fans. But the theory that if Bradley just plays harder will alleviate racist or hate filled remarks just admits that it's happening. Because once there is a slump Bradley will go from being our fan fave to just another n*****.
I also think that some of us have a hard time with this because Cub fans like to think that we're better than that. We're smarter than that. We're educated people...Educated people aren't racist! Um, no.
Monday night CubbieJulie is having a special podcast to discuss the racism issue. Sadly I'll miss it since I'll be at that night's game with my plate of nachos and depending on the weather a beer. Oh yes, I still love my Cubbies despite the jerks who keep coming to the park and the ones who play on the field.