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Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Orioles GM Dan Duquette Said a Dumb, Bad Thing About José Bautista

When Buck Showalter spoke so eloquently two summers ago about the protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, one couldn’t help but admire the man and the organization he worked for.

“You hear people try to weigh in on things that they really don’t know anything about. … I’ve never been black, OK? So I don’t know, I can’t put myself there,” Showalter said after his team won 8-2 in an empty stadium, closed to the public for safety reasons. “I’ve never faced the challenges that they face, so I understand the emotion, but I can’t. … It’s a pet peeve of mine when somebody says, ‘Well, I know what they’re feeling. Why don’t they do this? Why doesn’t somebody do that?’ You have never been black, OK, so just slow down a little bit.”

If only we all could be so thoughtful and sensitive when it comes to matters of race. If only we all would be so careful with and conscious of the power of our words, and willing to embrace the humanity and dignity of people we don’t look like and whose experiences we shouldn’t ignore or pretend to understand. All of us, like, for example, say, Showalter’s boss Dan Duquette.

MLB.com: You expressed no interest in Jose Bautista this offseason, saying, “Jose is a villain in Baltimore and I’m not going to go tell our fans that we’re courting Jose Bautista for the Orioles because they’re not going to be happy.” How often do you consider something like fan reaction when considering potential acquisitions?

Duquette: (Laughs) Well that was an easy one; our fans just don’t like Jose. We play those guys 25 times a year and he’s the face of the Blue Jays. He’s the villain in the play whenever we play the Blue Jays. I like our guys. Our guys are good. [Mark] Trumbo is like a working-class-type baseball player. If he was going to work every day on a construction site, you would understand that he brings that kind of work ethic every day. That’s the kind of player that our fans identify with. We try to get gritty players that work hard every day and give their best effort every day. Our fans seem to like that and respond to it.

And you want to be my latex salesman?

This statement is truly remarkable. Bautista, by just about every account there is, is off the charts when it comes to his work ethic, his preparation, and his determination to defy the aging curve — all things Travis Sawchik tackled in an excellent piece on José back in January at FanGraphs. For fuck sakes, this is a guy who remade himself into an elite player at age 29, not some aloof creature coasting along on god-given talent. And holy shit, the “working-class-type” “construction site” guy he’s talking about is a multi-millionaire!

He’s also white. And Bautista isn’t. And while I appreciate that there are some people out there who can’t stand race issues being brought into everything, it’s hard to understand these comments through anything but the prism of coded racial language that is deeply ingrained in this game and in this culture. How else does it make sense that anyone could hold up a player as the virtuous alternative to Bautista — a base-running madman, a conditioning junkie, and a man so committed to perfecting his craft that he sometimes can’t help himself but show up an umpire — because he works hard and gives his best effort every day?

I’m sure that for fans of literally every team but the Blue Jays, there are sensible enough reasons not to like Bautista. That Duquette couldn’t come up with one of those and went here is pretty ridiculously not cool. And, like racism — intentional or not, coded or not — always, always is, it’s dumb as fuck.

Orioles fans should be livid at him for speaking on their behalf that way.

Hey, but at least a whole bunch of people do get it:

All this shit about Bautista when the Yankees gave a boatload of money to Aroldis fucking Chapman this winter. I mean, for fuck sakes…

  • dylcoch

    I thought the exact same thing when I read these comments. Saying our fans don’t like him and that’s why we didn’t sign him is one thing (although you should never pass up the opportunity to get a great player from a rival because of fans’ opinions of him (as long as those opinions aren’t based on bad things they’ve done in the past, i.e. Chapman)) and I thought he just used that as an excuse as to why they didn’t want him, but to talk trash about his work ethic when he is undeniably one of the hardest working members on the Jays, from how he works out to how he eats, etc. is just incredibly short-sighted

  • Barry

    “Our fans would rather I insult Jose publicly and repeatedly and compel him to hit a couple of dozen bat-flipping home runs against us this year than sign him and give us a better te… Oh shit.”

  • Jaheem

    I feel like I’m missing something. I don’t see the race aspect in duquettes comments. Obviously the implying that Bautista doesn’t have work ethic is stupid, but I don’t see the line to racism. Not trying to be a dink here; I think I might be missing some context.
    Or is the race piece brought in when he talks about work ethic and then presents a white guy?

    • wb

      You got it with your question at the end. It may not be intentionally racist, but to imply that the Orioles don’t like Bautista because he isn’t their type of hard-working player, and to bring up a white guy as an example of a hard-working player, when Bautista is well known as one of the hardest-working players in the majors, is just…. racist. It plays on racial stereotypes, whether intentionally doing so or not.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      I’m with you Jaheem. I don’t think it helps anyone to see racism wherever there is a negative comment and someone has a different skin colour. It makes me think that the writer is the one focusing on JB’s race, not Duquette.

  • ErnieWhitt

    What a dumb fucking to keep answering questions on this. I mean, how fucking hard is it to say that you don’t want to go there anymore and it’s over. Not that hard because that is exactly what the evil villain Jose Bautista has been doing all along while shithead white guys piss and moan in the media on and on while parting themselves on the back for doing things the right way.

  • that duquette was apparently unaware that JB is one of the hardest working, borderline maniacally so, players sheds a bit of light into another reason why he didn’t go after him. pushing the blame onto the fanbase is a coward’s move. he should just own the fact he’s an idiot.