Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Brian Cashman was ‘heartbroken’ about Masahiro Tanaka’s experiences with racism, but such reactions insult people of color

Where’s Brian been? He’s missed a lot, but Masahiro Tanaka didn’t, and left.
Where’s Brian been? He’s missed a lot, but Masahiro Tanaka didn’t, and left.
Image: Getty Images

The ability to feign disbelief can be more harmful than the act that caused the initial shock. It’s a skill that some white people are either born with or have acquired over time. It’s a classic argument of nature vs. nurture, and Brian Cashman is the latest example.

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The Yankees General Manager – a white man that was born in the racially turbulent decade of the 1960s – is conveniently clueless about how racism and hate work, as he was blindsided by the racism that, reportedly, played a big part in why Masahiro Tanaka didn’t re-sign with the Yankees and returned to play in Japan, as violence against Asians has skyrocketed during the pandemic.

“Brian Cashman said Masahiro Tanaka didn’t tell him about any instances of racism he faced in the U.S., but that it was ‘heartbreaking’ to read about,” according to a report from NJ.com. Last April, Tanaka tweeted that he and his family had returned to Japan after “there was an event that made me feel danger other than the new coronavirus infection, and I decided to return home.”

Twenty bucks says Cashman never once asked Tanaka how he and his family were doing, or any of the other people of color on the Yankees’ roster, as nationwide protests on racism occurred last summer.

But, it’s not like Cashman is the only example of this willful obliviousness. There have been multiple instances of injustices that have taken place this year that have been met with shock and “aww” from white America.

March

When Creighton basketball coach Greg McDermott was suspended for a whopping four days after confessing that he told his team, “Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation,” the school’s athletic director complimented the courage of the Black players on the roster for using “their voices to share their true feelings,” as if they had any other choice, given that McDermott magically “demonstrated a commitment to grow” in 96 hours, as his team was preparing for postseason play.

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March was also the month in which University of Texas President Jay Hartzell was “surprised” to find out that a school with one of the largest enrollments in the country had racists among its alumni base, while also downplaying their quantity.

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“People who target our students with hateful views do not represent the values of the Longhorn community,” Hartzell wrote in a statement. “A few extremist views in the sample of emails the Texas Tribune reported on do not speak for the 540,000 proud Longhorn alumni who actively support our students and university.”

The statement was in a response to a report from the Texas Tribune in which alumni and donors threatened to stop supporting the school, as they demanded that Hartzell take a stronger stance on supporting the school’s racist song, “The Eyes of Texas.”

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“It’s time for you to put the foot down and make it perfectly clear that the heritage of Texas will not be lost,” wrote one donor. “It is sad that it is offending the blacks. As I said before the blacks are free and it’s time for them to move on to another state where everything is in their favor.”

February

After the events of Wednesday, January 6, when American-born white terrorists stormed the Capitol in the biggest temper tantrum since the Civil War and the Boston Tea Party, Black players at Bluefield College kneeled during the national anthem. School President David Olive was caught in such dismay that he suspended players, causing them to forfeit a game.

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“The basis for my decision stemmed from my own awareness of how kneeling is perceived by some in our country, and I did not think a number of our alumni, friends, and donors of the College would view the act of kneeling during the anthem in a positive way,” Olive wrote in a statement.

That same “wow, I had no idea” attitude was on full display last month when Urban Meyer had a sudden awakening in less than 24 hours.

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“I’ve known him. I’ve studied him. We’ve had a relationship,” said Urban Meyer after it became public that he had hired Chris Doyle – a former coach at Iowa that had multiple allegations of racist behavior against him – to his staff. “I vetted him thoroughly along with our general manager .... I feel great about the hire and his expertise at that position.”

Outrage ensued. Doyle resigned a day later. And Meyer tried to act as if he was caught off-guard.

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“Chris did not want to be a distraction to what we are building in Jacksonville. We are responsible for all aspects of our program and, in retrospect, should have given greater consideration to how his appointment may have affected all involved,” Meyer wrote in a statement a day later.

January

Famed sports writer Jackie MacMullan said that Kyrie Irving and NBA players are “property.”

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“Well, so I will tell you this,” she told Bill Simmons on an episode of The Ryen Russillo Podcast. “I was thinking about all the conversations I’ve had with Kyrie through the years. One of them I had, I don’t know, two years ago, we got into an argument about, you know, something, and he’s like, ‘Well, there shouldn’t be an NBA draft. Players should be able to go wherever they want to go. We’re not someone’s property.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah you are dude, that’s the way it works. That’s why you get paid all these millions.”

White members of the sports media world were in “total shock” that MacMullan could say such a thing, as Black people rolled their eyes in unison.

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At the heart of all these incidents are the repeated choices to ignore the daily injustices that people of color deal with. So the next time it happens, save your “I can’t believe this” and your “OMG, what is wrong with people?” comments.

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We don’t need your astonishment and disbelief. It’s pathetic and disrespectful. If you want to be of service, educate yourself. Because only then you will understand that these instances are the rule and not the exception.

Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 & 2020 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.