"For each inch a player grows above 5'6", announcers are 2 percent less likely to praise him with intangibles."
August 27, 2012 10:42 AM   Subscribe

The product of a successful Kickstarter project, a study has been released focusing on subconscious racism in baseball announcing.

The results show a tendency to praise American and Canadian born players for their effort and character as compared to their international counterparts who were largely Latino.
posted by Bulgaroktonos (72 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The sample size of Canadian-born players in the MLB is too small from which to derive any meaningful results.

In the NHL, on the other hand, it is quite true that the fans mostly cheer for Canadian-born players and hardly ever cheer for Latino players.
posted by three blind mice at 10:51 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Or the black guy.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:00 AM on August 27, 2012


This b/r post speaks to something my husband and I notice during NFL commentary all the time. It seems like before Cam Newton, every young black quarterback was compared to Mike Vick. Now it is either Newton or Vick. Why can't it be Manning? Or Brady? Or Stafford? Or...or...or...
posted by morganannie at 11:01 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a sports fan, I'm glad to see a focus on this. I think the NFL could really use such an analysis, especially since the announcing teams fans see are static and the same across the country due to the national-only TV contract. One of the things I really appreciate about the incredibly old-school Tommy Heinson is he does not fall into the trap of "black player = natural athlete, white player = self-made scrapper".

That said, an admittedly cursory glance at the data they've highlighted makes it seem hopelessly naive. 200 games in August is enough to tell us everything? The quality of announcing varies so widely across teams. I don't doubt there is a bias to see white players as scrappy hustlers who beat the odds (see Eckstein, David), but how can you tease apart what is pure bias on the part of announcers versus what is bias from scouting departments and general managers? The announcers can only comment on the players in front of them. Plus most every color commentator is a former player from the '70s or before, but there's no adjustment for age or race of the commentators.

An example that stands out in the data is that Livan Hernandez shows up on the "Most-Criticized Players". How much of that was racial bias and how much of it was announcers saying, "Man this guy should retire. He's barely throwing batting practice fastballs, his arm fell off five years ago when managers made him throw 140 pitches a start just to see what would happen," etc.? Similarly, Carlos Zambrano is a madman. I know the "Hot Tempered Latino" is an unfortunate stereotype, but that guy does seem nuts. It doesn't invalidate the study, I just wish it carried across more games and maybe across a season or two to dilute the effects of a big storyline that dominated a month or a year.
posted by yerfatma at 11:02 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not that there isn't probably some degree of racism in hockey but couldn't some of the extra cheering for the Canadian born players be due to nationalism on the part of the Canadian audience. I mean when I see a Stars game down here in Dallas I don't necessarily notice a ton of extra cheering for the Canadians. Of course that could be due to the completely mediocre support given to hockey in the south.

Concerning the OP study, yeah I really wouldn't be shocked if there is a tendency to praise American born players over international players and white players over Latino and African-American players. Thinking back over the years I think you could reliably hear stuff like "blue-collar working ethic" and "he might not be the most gifted athlete but he sure works hard" used in relation to white players which creates this implicit suggestion that white players seem to succeed based upon hard work whereas players of minority status are natural athletes.
posted by vuron at 11:03 AM on August 27, 2012


Very interesting. I hadn't noticed this in baseball - now that I think of it, that's probably because I rarely watch games other than Phillies games, so I don't get to compare how players on different teams are treated by different announcers. I don't see systemic bias, just that Chase Utley has better intangibles than John Mayberry Jr.

On the other hand, yeah, announcing in the NFL is incredibly blatant about this sort of thing at certain positions. Black quarterbacks are compared only to other black quarterbacks. White wide receivers (a position dominated by black players) are much more likely to be ascribed intangibles like "hustle" or "toughness" and will often be described as "fan favorites."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:04 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I wonder if baseball was created as an elaborate scheme to keep statisticians employed...
posted by schmod at 11:06 AM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


I would praise any MLB player who managed to grow even a modest number of inches.
posted by Mister_A at 11:09 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


This b/r post speaks to something my husband and I notice during NFL commentary all the time. It seems like before Cam Newton, every young black quarterback was compared to Mike Vick. Now it is either Newton or Vick. Why can't it be Manning? Or Brady? Or Stafford? Or...or...or...

I once recall reading something, back when Byron Leftwich and David Garrard were both with the Jaguars, which said they had basically the same skill set. It was pretty baffling considering that Garrard was pretty mobile and Leftwich....wasn't. I mean, he could run more than in the game he played in college with a broken leg, but not like A LOT more mobile.

I'd agree that the study isn't ideal, but I think a month of baseball games is a pretty good sample given that you can't pay people to code these things forever. As a sports fan these kind of biases seem self evident, but it's nice to have some data to back it up.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:09 AM on August 27, 2012


On the one hand, I'm sympathetic to any attempt to shed light on unacknowledged racism in professional sports. It's very possible that there could be systematic bias in MLB announcing against Latino ballplayers.

On the other hand, Manny Ramirez.
posted by R. Schlock at 11:10 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


As always, Ta-Nehisi Coates has interesting things to say on this. This is only a small portion of him kicking this stuff around.
posted by charred husk at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been noticing this for years. Black players described as 'speedsters' while whites are 'hustlers', or whites as 'hard workers' while blacks and latinos are 'gifted athletes'.
I'm glad it's being studied and publicized.
posted by rocket88 at 11:14 AM on August 27, 2012


On the other hand, Manny Ramirez.

You spelled Alex Rodriguez wrong.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 11:14 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, sports folks (like everyone) are implicitly racist.

That said, announcers are at the outside of what matters in sports. For people who are trying to put together teams to win games, players are being reduced to their statistics and salaries. Sure it's dehumanizing and explicitly treating these players as investments or commodities - but for better or worse, it's no longer racist.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:19 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I only browsed the Atlantic article, but how do we know the racism is from the announcers and not from the classification of their comments into "character" vs. "athletics" by the researchers?
posted by The Ted at 11:19 AM on August 27, 2012


But if Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez were white would they get nearly as much shit as they do currently? Are the perceptions of them as lazy driven at least in part by their races as much as their apparent lack of effort at times. I'm not going to suggest that they don't underperform at times but does the way that we look at them in relationship to their actually performance reflect so underlying racial bias?

I think the year that Mark McQwire and Sammy Sosa were both seeking the home run record was definitely illustrative of bias in reporting as it almost always seemed that it was suggested that Mark would be a more worthy candidate for breaking the record.

Of course we've since learned that they both were clearly juiced at the time but that's a completely different story.
posted by vuron at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The TV show The League had a great riff on this:

ANDRE

I met this doctor, Dr. Maxwell. Real class act.

PETE

Is he...black?

ANDRE

How'd you know?

PETE

Nine times out of ten, when a sportscaster is referring to someone as a "class act", they're talking about a head coach who's black. "Tony Dungy, what a class act."

KEVIN

"Total. Lovie Smith—class act."

ANDRE

I never noticed that. I mean, it happens all the time?

KEVIN

It's not just football. Sportscasters use these code words in all sports. If they're talking about a Latino player in baseball, like, "Ozzie Guillen is a..."

RUXIN

Firecracker. Latin guys are always firecrackers.

KEVIN

"...firecracker."

PETE

Spark plug.

KEVIN

Spark plug in the clubhouse.

RUXIN

Wes Welker is like a gym rat, a real scrappy player.

KEVIN

Which is code word for "white."

RUXIN

Always a white guy.

KEVIN

Ichiro Suzuki is...

TACO

Inscrutable.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2012 [36 favorites]


I actually found the bit about height to be interesting because I think a huge part of the difference here is about the narrative of "natural" athletes versus people who get there through hard work. For white athletes, it seems like we just sort of assume that they're not actually genetically gifted and must have gotten there through hardwork and love of the game or something. Same for short athletes, even in baseball which doesn't reward being tall as much as most other sports.

Obviously, this is all nonsense since there aren't MLB players who aren't both genetically gifted and hardworking, but what people choose to emphasize is interesting.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:24 AM on August 27, 2012


I was thinking (sort of) of this issue yesterday when I listened to an interview of James Harris, the NFL's (well, at the time, AFL) first black starting quarterback (not the first to actually start a game, but to be "the starter."). One of the things that came up in the interview was that in order for Harris to win a starting spot, he had to be a pure passer, since that was the model of the NFL starting quarterback at the time. He said he had 4.6 speed, which would have been tremendous for a quarterback in the late 60s. In fact, at one point, he led the league in passing.

The Garrard/Leftwich example above is a great one, since Leftwich just is hardly mobile at all.

When there just weren't many black QBs in the league--and the ones who were, like Doug Williams and Warren Moon were more in the pure passer mold like Harris was--I can remember Randall Cunningham being constantly compared to John Elway, who was sort of the gold standard for "mobile quarterback" at the time.

But that's about the last time I can really remember a black quarterback being compared to a white one.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:25 AM on August 27, 2012


Playing Devil's Advocate: What if the MLB just sucks at recruiting foreign-born players?

A baseball player's performance is actually pretty easy to quantify from a statistical perspective -- easily moreso than just about any other mainstream sport. Personally, I'd like to see statistics included that adjust for the player's performance, so that we can generate some tables of the players that received the most unwarranted criticism or praise (and on the opposite end, also weed out good/awful players that aren't really being recognized at all).

Also, I know you can't cherry-pick your data, but the inclusion of Thome and Zambrano both seem like they have the potential to tip the scales in such a small dataset.

I get the point that they're trying to make here, and agree that some subliminal racism does seem to exist in sports commentary. However, the statistics and methodology just don't seem to make a compelling case for that point.
posted by schmod at 11:26 AM on August 27, 2012


As the lone gringo on many a development team, I wonder what the commentators were saying about me behind my back.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:27 AM on August 27, 2012


International players make up 28.4% of MLB rosters though schmod and have been a pretty large percentage of the MLB rosters for decades so I definitely think there is plenty of outreach to all sorts of communities throughout Latin America (which is where most of the growth in baseball's popularity has been coming from). Other than a lack of outreach to Cuba (for political reasons) I think just about every MLB team has extensive networks of scouts throughout much of Latin America.
posted by vuron at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


No one ever says Dominican players are well spoken, you ever notice that? I mean, hello?
posted by Mister_A at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2012


I may not be a classic five-tool MeFite, but I make up for it with grit and hard work. I just hate to lose. You don't see many posters like me anymore--what with all the big contracts getting handed out, it seems like a lot of MeFites are just trying to ride out the string and avoid injuries.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:40 AM on August 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


Sorry Mister_A, but one of my favorite lines about why Pedro Martinez was superior to Roger Clemens was, "He can speak English."
posted by yerfatma at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the NFL could really use such an analysis, especially since the announcing teams fans see are static and the same across the country due to the national-only TV contract. One of the things I really appreciate about the incredibly old-school Tommy Heinson is he does not fall into the trap of "black player = natural athlete, white player = self-made scrapper".

I've been trying to get my husband to blog about this kind of thing in the NFL since the beginning of the preseason, when he pointed out to me that black players always have their raw athleticism emphasized while white players have their intelligence or hard work commented upon. It's . . . creepy!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Black players described as 'speedsters'

White wide receivers (a position dominated by black players)

An unpopular opinion, I know, but maybe there's an actual reason behind some of these?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:45 AM on August 27, 2012


Oh, let's not forget Peyton Hillis, the first white starting running back in forever. In 2010, he played for an awful team (the Browns) and had a good-but-not-great season (a shade over 1,000 yards, pretty good receiving), but you'd better believe he won the crap out of the fan polling for a Madden cover.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:46 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can you expand on that ChurchHatesTucker?
posted by sweetkid at 11:47 AM on August 27, 2012


maybe there's an actual reason behind some of these?

If I read the article correctly, I think the concern is not that announcers might be misapplying accurate descriptions of physical abilities (speedsters) but not crediting (in the case of the research) Latino players with desirable, but not quantifiable abilities (grit, hustle).
posted by shothotbot at 11:50 AM on August 27, 2012


So now we have a way of combining America's pastime of baseball with America's nowtime of witch hunting people for subtle racism!
posted by meadowlark lime at 11:50 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's been a slow recognition of this in Proper Football commentary here in the UK, it's not much better, but you can hear the younger commentators cringe when their colleagues mention Balotelli's strength now.

It was always interesting listening to them trying desperately to think of things to say about John Barnes who was one of the most skilful players of the 20th century, yet neither big nor particularly fast.

Another reason Barnes and racism are inextricably linked in British sporting culture.
posted by fullerine at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2012


So now we have a way of combining America's pastime of baseball with America's nowtime of witch hunting people for subtle racism!

Collecting generalized data on possible racism in a large group of people (announcers) isn't a witch hunt. There's no suggestion that the announcers are more racist than the population at large and the data is explicitly about subconscious racism. At most, it's a call for announcers to be more thoughtful in how they describe people.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


The thing about witch-hunting is that there really weren't any real witches, not in the sense of having supernatural abilities and things. The thing about racism is that it's real and harmful, even when it is subconscious.
posted by Mister_A at 11:54 AM on August 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


The thing about those who scoff at the idea that sports are not hilariously racist is they are either being wilfully obtuse as a sort of game racists play or they are too fucking dumb to engage with.
posted by fullerine at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2012


... pastime ... nowtime

Please be advised that the root of pastime is pass, not past.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:01 PM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


TL;DR, but please please do not cite Vin Scully as an example of this. . .

My sense of well-being has taken enough hits lately.
posted by Danf at 12:03 PM on August 27, 2012


I remember when I first arrived in Canada (lo these many years ago) just having my jaw hit the floor hearing Don Cherry's virulent and vicious racism on Hockey Night in Canada. And this guy was held up as a national treasure. The reason there'd be no point looking for "subconscious" racism in the NHL is that it's all so utterly conscious and explicit.

(This was a while ago, of course, so perhaps things have changed somewhat.)
posted by yoink at 12:05 PM on August 27, 2012


I may not be a classic five-tool MeFite, but I make up for it with grit and hard work.

The thing about you is, you're a real professional.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:05 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's one of the genuinely good guys in this game.
posted by Mister_A at 12:15 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


being wilfully obtuse as a sort of game racists play

See, you're assuming the guy named Ramirez is Latino. A guy named Ramirez could be anything. I don't see races, I see people, so I don't even know what names go with which ethnicities, and if you're going around putting people into categories like this, maybe you're the racist one.
posted by RobotHero at 12:15 PM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


TL;DR, but please please do not cite Vin Scully as an example of this. . .

The thing about studies like this one is that properly understood they should reveal not that "OMG, so and so is such an evil RACIST!!" but that racist tropes infect the language of even the most well-intentioned people. That's one of the really terrific lessons in Jay Smooth's internet-famous TEDx talk about racism--that the whole model of "OMG, I caught you saying something racist--therefore you are a bad evil racist person (otherwise known as the "Metafilter Automatic Favorites Comment--I keed, I keed) is essentially unhelpful. It's unhelpful because it only serves to get people defensive (how can you respond usefully to the charge that you, personally, fall into an utterly reviled class of people? "Yeah, I'm sorry I was going through an irredeemable asshole phase just then, but trust me, I'm better now!"), and because it basically misunderstands what makes racism so insidious and so powerful as a structuring force in social discourse. Racism doesn't get "cured" when people just stop being racist assholes. It gets perpetuated and shapes our worldviews precisely through unconscious discursive tropes like the ones these guys are analyzing and which will get propagated by people who are genuinely and committedly "anti-racist."

So the point of something like this really should not be a "witch hunt" (AHA! I always KNEW that so-and-so was a secret racist!) but consciousness raising. It's not that it's never going to make sense to talk about a player being a "natural athlete" or a "gym rat" or what have you--just think about when you use term A and when you use term B. If you find that the first is always about black people and the second is always about white, then you need to start consciously thinking about what you're keying off when you use those terms.

Which is a long way round to say--don't worry. Even if Vin Scully does do this (and he probably does to some extent) that doesn't need to mar your admiration of him--there's no reason to expect him to be some kind of superhuman being who rises above discursive deformations that infect all of us to some extent or another.
posted by yoink at 12:16 PM on August 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


we dispatched a group of ten people to combine to watch every single television broadcast of a Major League Baseball game for a week last season

They should have obtained the closed-captioning transcripts. This would have allowed for a longer time horizon, been less costly, lowered the risk of human error, etc.

We analyzed these games for the words announcers used to describe players, with the goal of finding out whether broadcasters spoke about white players and players of color differently.

It doesn't sound like they tracked whether the player being discussed was from the home team or the visiting team. I have a feeling that might have been important.
posted by jeremy b at 12:17 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


RobotHero, either that is a hilarious parody of obtuseness or Peak Obtuse.

Those of us who follow baseball are well aware that Manny Ramirez is from the Dominican Republic, and so are the sportscasters. Players' cities and countries of birth are part of their official records.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:18 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to assume that RobotHero is in fact Stephen Colbert posting under an assumed alias.
posted by vuron at 12:21 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which is a long way round to say--don't worry. Even if Vin Scully does do this (and he probably does to some extent) that doesn't need to mar your admiration of him--there's no reason to expect him to be some kind of superhuman being who rises above discursive deformations that infect all of us to some extent or another.

That actually sounds like exactly how Dodgers Fans feel about Vin Scully.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:23 PM on August 27, 2012


(And by "home team" I mean the team the announcers work for--not necessarily the team that was actually playing at home.)
posted by jeremy b at 12:24 PM on August 27, 2012


Rick Sutcliffe wants Melky Cabrerra deported (for using performance enhancing drugs):

"You know, it makes you mad. First of all, this guy is over here in the United States on a working visa. He broke the law. What's he doing still here? I mean, forget the 50-game suspension from baseball and whether he can come back if they make the players [sic] or not. Why's he still here? That visa should be taken away, and he should not be allowed to play over here again, or work over here again, in my opinion."
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:27 PM on August 27, 2012


Those of us who follow baseball are well aware that Manny Ramirez is from the Dominican Republic, and so are the sportscasters.

Vin Scully is Dominican?
posted by Mister_A at 12:34 PM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Obviously my ESL issues are in the way! The sportscasters know that Manny is from the Dominican.

Now I have to figure out what my first language actually is...
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:41 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The mental block whereby all comparisons of players have to be of the same race gets pretty hilarious in the NBA, where the likes of Brian Scalabrine, Wally Szczerbiak, and Adam Morrison end up being called young Larry Birds. Of course, the NBA also has White European/South American as its 3rd quasi-racial category, to ensure that no one ever accidentally groups Darko Milicic, Shawn Bradley, and Hasheem Thabeet together.
posted by Copronymus at 12:43 PM on August 27, 2012


my jaw hit the floor hearing Don Cherry's virulent and vicious racism on Hockey Night in Canada

Don's targets are European and Quebecois hockey players, so it's not exactly racism, but I get your point.
posted by rocket88 at 12:43 PM on August 27, 2012


An interesting inversion of this is the comparison game in basketball. Earlier this year, after a dominating game by Kevin Love (who is white), coach George Karl said, "I think we used to call him a poor man's Larry Bird. I think you can take 'poor man' off that comparison now." Deadspin, ever observant, ran this tidbit under the headline "White Basketball Player Compared to White Basketball Player" - e.g., this is the inverse of comparing every black quarterback to Michael Vick. See also this article by Josh Levin, in which he talks about racial codewords such as 'old school' and 'intangibles.'
posted by googly at 12:47 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


jeremy b: they watched every game from both broadcasts (the home announcer and away announcer versions) so there should be a total wash as far as that factor is concerned.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:54 PM on August 27, 2012


maybe you're the racist one.

Hey, I just met you and this is crazy but you're a racist. So fave me, maybe.
posted by morganannie at 1:02 PM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


So the comment is racist because Seth Amitin says so? What's his criteria? His gut?
posted by Ideefixe at 1:06 PM on August 27, 2012


Sometimes I wonder if baseball was created as an elaborate scheme to keep statisticians employed...

I wish statisticians were employed. Perhaps some social scientists as well.
posted by srboisvert at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2012


So the comment is racist because Seth Amitin says so? What's his criteria? His gut?

The study wasn't looking at whether comments were racist, so there's no need to determine if a comment is racist. It was looking at what types of comments were made about players and seeing how that correlated with race. American born players were more likely to be praised for effort or character than non-American players (mostly Latino). If the types of comments that are made about players vary by race, it's could be because of racial bias without any particular comment needing to be defined as "racist."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:12 PM on August 27, 2012


How they all tend to start:
"He's not the greatest athlete..."
Translation: The player we are discussing is white.

"...but he's the hardest worker out there."
Translation: Best white player available.

"...but he's a blue-collar guy."
Translation: Pretty good white player.

"...but he's a lunch-pail guy."
Translation: Uh, I guess... on his off-days, this white player works a construction job?

"...but he's a student of the game."
Translation: We plan to hire this white player to be an announcer as soon as humanly possible.

"...but he really brings the team together off-court."
Translation: The other players hate this white player.

"...but he really learned how to play hard at Duke/North Carolina."
Translation: Fuck that guy, what else is on?
posted by davidjmcgee at 1:37 PM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


but you'd better believe he won the crap out of the fan polling for a Madden cover.

To be fair... Packer fans were actively voting for him over Aaron Rodgers, because of "the curse."
posted by drezdn at 1:43 PM on August 27, 2012


Vin Scully is Dominican?

Jon Miller has a story about how Vin Scully is so influential that foreign baseball commentators imitate his cadence and patter. (He also does a great Vin impression). And it's true! I had ESPN3 for a while and was desperate for baseball, so I wound up watching some Winter League and Dominican and Caribbean games and every now and then you'd hear that familiar Scully delivery in a completely different language.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:53 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't comment on the whole racism angle, but I'm always fascinated to see funded Kickstarter projects that actually produce results.
posted by themanwho at 2:11 PM on August 27, 2012


Horace Rumpole: Please be advised that the root of pastime is pass, not past.
Oh sure, even the word pastime is racist against black quarterbacks who are dual-threats.
posted by hincandenza at 2:43 PM on August 27, 2012


My wife and I watch a fair amount of Big-10 female gymnastics and she has noticed that the black gymnasts are always referred to as "powerful" while none of the other gymnasts are.
posted by VTX at 2:56 PM on August 27, 2012


I'm going to assume that RobotHero is in fact Stephen Colbert posting under an assumed alias.

Yeah, the minute I read that all I could think was "I don't see race -- I don't even know what race I am. I mean, I assume I'm white, because police officers call me 'sir,' but I don't really see it."
posted by KathrynT at 2:57 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds about right. Think I'm going to browse through some years of articles in the Journal of Sport Management for giggles.
posted by cashman at 5:03 PM on August 27, 2012


Thank you Ghostride The Whip. I'd heard Jon Miller do the Japanese Vin Scully years ago on ESPN and now have proof it exists!
posted by yerfatma at 5:13 PM on August 27, 2012


Hamburger, just in case.
posted by RobotHero at 7:28 PM on August 27, 2012


The great thing about Jon Miller doing Vin Scully in Japanese is that his commentary is not gibberish -- that's a legitimate call for a Yomiuri Giants game circa 1986. Korakuen Stadium and everything. The man did not cut corners.
posted by workingdankoch at 8:13 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Phil Ivey is the Tiger Woods of poker.
posted by leopard at 9:06 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"...but he's a blue-collar guy."
Translation: Pretty good white player.

"...but he's a lunch-pail guy."
Translation: Uh, I guess... on his off-days, this white player works a construction job?


I can't speak to any other markets, but both of those have been used in the past to describe the Houston Rockets, both the team as a whole and individual players -- non-white players not excepted, and in years in which there were very few white players* at all. (Q.v. this Fran Blinebury piece on Moses Malone.) The sense I always got from it was that they were hard-working players who weren't showboats, who knew how to play as a team rather than going for individual glory, and that there was no drama involved with them. We were always proud that Houston was a lunch-pail city -- we liked our players to show up, work hard and do their jobs, play clean, and not hog the spotlight.
When Rudy T, the ultimate lunch-pail guy, was coach, he really set the tone. Players that didn't fit in were not welcome (Vernon Maxwell, Scottie Pippen) unless they proved themselves hard workers (Charles Barkley -- Houston loved him, even though he was prone to shooting his mouth off, because he showed up and did his job and was loyal. Loyalty, both to the team and to the city, were and are highly prized. Houston loves a player who stays his whole career in the city, and will let a veteran coast for a long time because he's our guy).
I saw it not as any kind of racial marker but mostly as differentiation from other big city teams; the Rockets didn't have stars on the sidelines like the Lakers; they didn't hack-n-slash like the Knicks; our big man (Olajuwon) didn't make the game all about him like some other centers. We didn't trade away our guys when they had a rough patch, and they didn't leave the city even when better prospects offered.
I don't dispute it might be used as a racially marked (and/or nonsensical) descriptor in some situations, but I have to stick up for our lunch-pail guys in Houston, for whom the term was and is a useful one.

*The white players usually did get a disproportionate amount of attention for their skill level, though I don't think their starting/playing time was as disproportionate as the media attention.

**My prime Rockets-watching years were nearly 20 years ago, so I make no claims to speak about the team in its present incarnation, but I hope it hasn't changed too much.
posted by katemonster at 11:41 PM on August 27, 2012


Sometimes I wonder if baseball was created as an elaborate scheme to keep statisticians employed...

That's funny. I was just reminiscing about the times my brother made me play full 162-game whiffleball/nerfball seasons, keeping full scoresheets for every game of Snudlrs (Capt Yid was his star pitcher) vs. Muppets (Scooter and Beauregard were my main run producers, surprisingly).

I know think he did it just for the data!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:28 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


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