This is the script to this week’s Sports at Large broadcast that aired on WYPR 88.1 in Baltimore. You can hear it live each Monday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern or Tuesdays after 9 a.m.. during Maryland Morning. If you live outside the listening area, you can hear the show streamed live at http://www.wypr.org.
Here’s a link to the audio of the piece, courtesy of producer Mary Rose Madden:
There’s been a suggestion around town that Vladimir Guerrero, the Orioles’ new free agent designated hitter ought to be the team’s mandated All-Star Game representative when the game takes place in a couple of weeks in Phoenix.
That’s a good idea, but when fans vote for starters in Baltimore and around baseball, they shouldn’t just select Guerrero, but also Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera, as well as Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.
At shortstop for the American League, Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians would make a fine choice, while Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers could be the starting third baseman.
The catcher should be Alex Avila of the Tigers, while Toronto’s Jose Bautista, Carlos Quentin of the White Sox and Kansas City’s Melky Cabrera ought to patrol the outfield.
You may have noticed a trend among the names of the suggested starters. They’re all Hispanic players, and this wasn’t by accident.
Indeed, if Rebecca Alpert has her way, all the All-Star starters for both the American and National Leagues will be Latino.
Alpert, a professor of religion and women’s studies at Temple University, told the Philadelphia Daily News that she wants all of the starters for the midsummer classic to be of Hispanic descent to bring shame to the state of Arizona.
There, the state legislature has enacted and the governor has signed into law the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. That gives police and law enforcement officials permission to request documentation and to detain anyone who might look like they are in this country illegally.
The law is currently under challenge in the courts, but its passage has drawn both heavy criticism from liberals and rousing support from conservatives.
For over two generations, Latino players have made themselves essential to Major League Baseball. From Roberto Clemente and Juan Marichal in the 1960’s to Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz today, it would be impossible to imagine baseball without Hispanic players.
And it would be impossible to envision the broader American culture without the contributions of Latinos. Alpert’s idea effectively forces us to confront that very possibility in a rather public and visible way.
Perhaps a meaningless baseball game in the middle of the summer isn’t the best place to conduct a national debate on immigration policy. And the date and locale of the All-Star Game were, in fairness, settled before the Arizona law was debated and put into place.
But baseball officials annually and rightfully pat themselves on the back for the sport’s contributions to the national dialogue on civil rights with a regular season game as well as permitting players to wear number 42, the number of Jackie Robinson, the first black major leaguer.
Those same officials should have had a back-up plan for the All-Star Game which included relocation to another spot when the law came into being.
Don’t forget that the NFL, which is a lot less socially aware than baseball, threatened to take the Super Bowl out of Arizona, when the state wouldn’t pass a Martin Luther King Day holiday years ago.
Sometimes, the good old US of A needs a proverbial foul ball off our collective noggin to see what’s right. An All-Star Game starting lineup of Hispanic players would be a step in that direction.