Ty Cobb could not play baseball today. Oh, maybe he had the skills and the guts to succeed but you wouldn’t find him in the majors. There’s one simple reason for this. Bigtime sports depend on marketing and it’s really hard to market a racist ^sshole. Just look at John Rocker. Say the wrong thing to the wrong person and soon enough you’re signing baseball cards at convention centers instead of trotting in from the bullpen.
Now, it hasn’t always been this way and the fact that a guy like Ty Cobb is in the Hall of Fame shows that sometimes those lesser angels of our nature don’t disqualify you from everything in life. But in the last few years, as baseball and other sports have become more dependent on the revenue generated by the family friendly aspects of the game, it has become rarer and rarer to see someone go off and really call it like they see it. That’s why I want to remind us all of some of the more glaring instances in a segment I like to call: Holy Sh!t! Did he really just say that?
I begin with my hometown Tigers and an homage to our recently departed designated hitter. Now, Sheff has been a fount of inspired insanity over the years and everyone knows about his comments regarding Latino players. He also famously said that Derek Jeter wasn’t “All the way black.” But the genius of Sheff can only truly be summed up in his response to a question about fathering two children before he was old enough to vote: “That was part of my plan. I didn’t want to be the typical athlete who’s single all his career.” Sheff shows that racism comes in a rainbow of colors.
Quite possibly the biggest homophobe and xenophobe to emerge from baseball since Ty Cobb, Rocker once remarked, “The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the
foreigners … You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not
hear anybody speaking English.” Even his annual apologies provided nonstop fun. Only Rocker could manage to understate the severity of a situation by starting out “My comments concerning persons afflicted with AIDS as
well as various minority groups have left people wondering if I am a
racist.” However, he also manages to retain the power to confound his critics and proved it once again by taking up with the beautiful Alicia. You stay classy, John Rocker!
However, nothing quite tops this video of Norm Coleman hosting the Espy’s a decade ago. Do yourself a favor. Even if you can’t quite sit through the entire eight and a half minutes, fast forward to the 7:53 minute mark and prepare to be amazed by the absolute sadistic ruthlessness with which he builds up Charles Woodson and then cuts him off at the ankles. It ain’t pretty but it gets him a spot on RSBS: