It saddens me to see a great man depart from our beloved Astros. Jose Cruz, most of us know him as Cheo, was released from his coaching responsibilities with the Astros this week. Though he will be remembered for his great play and great attitude, what saddens me is the commentary by a Houston-based sports writer as to the reasons Cheo was released.
SportsJustice: A Sports Blog with Richard Justice, explained Cheo’s release with the following rationale, “I think Ed Wade wants to hire someone that’s really smart and maybe really ambitious…”. We have all seen this type of commentary before. Many of us remember when Jimmy the Greek said that the African-American athlete is “bred to be the better athlete because this goes all the way back to the Civil War when…the slave owner would breed his big woman so that he would have a big black kid.” Additionally, few can forget watching Ted Koppel interview former Dodgers General Manager, Al Campanis, wherein he said African-Americans “may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or, perhaps, a general manager.” And more recently, there was Rush Limbaugh and his ignorant divisive comment about Donovan McNabb.
Then, there are comments by sports announcers who easily praise an African-American or Latino athlete for his incredible athletic skill but have a difficult time acknowledging his intelligence. As the saying goes, one hand giveth and the other taketh away. These comments are damaging to the individual, their families, their fans, and our entire community. I was hoping we had reached a place in history where people are no longer judged by their background, and I think most of us are there, but this type of “writing” reminds us all that there are still some people out there whose thinking remains based on the Stone Age mentality.
In terms of Cheo’s release, but also more generally, why is there a double standard for Latino players and coaches? Why do we not hear many quotes from Latino players? Is it because people don’t speak Spanish? Most Latino players can get by, making a few remarks to reporters in English, but so much is missed or lost in translation. The message that needs to be sent is that Latino athletes are here to stay and so is the growing Latino population. And further, the fans and the community are enraged by these divisive comments and we are not going to take it anymore.