If Triston McKenzie Weren’t Black, He’d Be The Talk of Baseball

Triston McKenzie blew away 10 Tigers in six innings in his debut for Cleveland, but didn’t get attention he deserved.
Triston McKenzie blew away 10 Tigers in six innings in his debut for Cleveland, but didn’t get attention he deserved.
Photo: Getty

What if I told you that over the weekend, Cleveland’s baseball team defeated the Detroit Tigers 6-1 off the strength of its rookie pitcher that only allowed two hits and struck out 10 batters in six innings of work.


The 6-foot-5, 165-pounder even struck out Miguel Cabrera... twice. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, he did it after this being his first visit to the mound since Aug. 30 of last year, due to injury.

“I’m still floating about that right now,” said the kid who was raised in Loxahatchee, Fla. “Growing up in South Florida, [Cabrera is] literally a living legend down there. To be able to face him and to strike him out, it’s huge for me.”

Now, what if I told you that the young pitcher’s name was Triston McKenzie and that the reason you probably have no idea who he is, or what he did, is because Major League Baseball did nothing to promote him…because he’s Black.

Due to Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac being demoted because they broke quarantine rules by choosing to leave the team’s hotel in Chicago, there was a spot for McKenzie. And, according to Cleveland’s president of baseball operations, Chris Antonetti, the rookie is going to stick around for at least one more start.

Good for him.

But, do you know what would be even better?

If Major League Baseball actually cared about his Black life. Ya know, since the Boston Red Sox, of all teams, are putting up Black Lives Matter banners.


Last month, I wrote about how baseball’s performative wokeness was fake as hell. And since then, nothing has happened to prove me wrong. When San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler and several members of the team took a knee during the national anthem before their exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics, some thought it was a step in the right direction, as other teams began to kneel.

But since then, have you seen entire rosters taking a knee?


Is race still a hot topic in baseball?


Because if this was really about bringing awareness to racism and police brutality, then every player and manager in baseball would be kneeling about Jacob Blake.


But, this is baseball. A sport where bench coaches can give Nazi salutes in the dugout and MLB doesn’t punish them.


With last season being Jackie Robinson’s 100th birthday, only Major League Baseball would celebrate it by only having 68 African-Americans among the 882 players on Opening Day rosters, according to a report from USA Today.

Last year was also the season in which baseball lost out on Kyler Murray to football, as the former Oklahoma two-sport star is the only athlete in sports history to be a Top 10 pick in the NFL and MLB. Murray was supposed to fix the sport’s “Black baseball problem.”


The San Francisco Chronicle even reported that executives from the team and the league met with Murray to come up with “something creative” to keep him away from football, as the Oakland Athletics were potentially working on a deal that would pay him more money, as it was believed that MLB was allowing the team to do whatever was necessary to sway Murray.

But in the end, money couldn’t buy Kyler Murray because Kyler Murray knew that his future would always be brighter playing on Sundays.


A year later, baseball has been blessed with McKenzie, for free, and as of yet, still haven’t found a way to promote him.

It’s par for the course.

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.