Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Just another day at the ballpark

Well, not really.

Not if you were Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, the club's 2016 Roberto Clemente Award nominee and an apparently exemplary human being who cherishes the game, plays it hard and tries not to do the sorts of thing that bring discredit to it.

Unlike, you know, certain cementheads in Boston.

They were apparently out in force in Fenway Park last night, and Adam Jones, of all people, was the target. This is not because the cementheads had anything against Roberto Clemente Award nominees, precisely. It was because Adam Jones is black.

And so one fan, subsequently ejected, threw a bag of peanuts at him in the dugout. And several others, Jones said, hurled more stinging missiles in the form of the ever-popular N-word.

"It's unfortunate," Jones said later. "The best thing about myself is that I continue to move on and still play the game hard. Let people be who they are. Let them show their true colors.''

Which have, unfortunately, always been somewhat less than vibrant. You never want to paint with a broad brush, but that this happened in Boston is not particularly surprising. Fairly or unfairly, the city earned its rep long ago as one of America's most racist cities; the spectacle of Southie rioting when the city's schools were de-segregated in the 1970s is an image that still holds power 40 years later. Like all such images, it's damnably hard to erase.

This is not to say that the cementheads who hurled their racial slurs at Jones were representative of what Boston is today, or even of most Red Sox fans. They almost certainly are not. But they just as certainly did nothing last night to erase the city's image, legitimate or not.

Nor did they do anything to discredit the notion that, in the Age of Trump, a certain bottom-feeding segment of America feels far more emboldened to indulge in these sorts of displays than it used to. Or that it should in a country with an ounce of common decency.

In the meantime, it's left to the Adam Joneses of the world to uphold that decency.

"Very unfortunate," he said last night, "It's unfortunate that people need to resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being. I'm trying to make a living for myself and for my family."

Just so.

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