"They're not us," Torii Hunter tells USA Today. "They're impostors." Yeah, he's going there.
There isn't much to say about this that Craig Calcaterra hasn't already, except to point out that not only is this yet more evidence that the culture of baseball is still hopelessly backward on matters of race, but it's also proof that ballplayers aren't entirely clear on the business of their game.
Some more of Hunter's comments:
"Even people I know come up and say, 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' "
Baseball's African-American population is 8%, compared with 28% for foreign players on last year's opening-day rosters.
"As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us," Hunter says. "It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?'
"I'm telling you, it's sad."
Not to say that baseball hasn't richly earned Torii Hunter's paranoia, but the man gets so lost inside his own crackpottery that he fails to see which way the exploitation actually runs. As Calcaterra notes (and as USA Today should have), baseball isn't getting those "imitation" black ballplayers for a bag of chips; teams are bidding for them on an open market, unlike their black American counterparts, who are subject to a wage-depressing draft. Real Black Person Torii Hunter made $200,000 in his first full season in the majors. Meanwhile, Aroldis Chapman is in the first year of a six-year, $30.25 million contract (with a $16.25 million signing bonus) — money that adds up to many, many, many bags of chips, all for an imitation black person.