Fernando Mateo paid a king’s ransom for his full-page advertisement in last Friday’s The New York Times. But when you have a message to tell, you don’t let money or power get in the way of your telling it.
Like any right-thinking sports fan, Mateo had long ago tired of Selig’s trashing Alex Rodriguez’s reputation. He wasn’t just frustrated with Selig’s vendetta against the New York Yankees third baseman; Mateo was frustrated that Selig had used his power as baseball czar to mistreat Hispanic people.
“It’s easy to expose and discredit Latin American countries and their people when there is no one to defend or at least give you the other side of the story,” Mateo’s ad in The Times said. “Well, Mr. Selig, my name is Fernando Mateo and I have and will continue to protest Alex Rodriguez’s suspension in front of MLB.”
Under Selig’s watch, steroids have destroyed the integrity of the game, but everybody, Mateo said, wants to forgive Selig but curse every player accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Not everybody, Mateo; not everybody.
For I, too, share your disgust with Selig and Major League Baseball for their treatment of minorities. While dismissing Blacks altogether, Selig and major league clubs have exploited poverty in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela to pay dimes for million-dollar talents.
Selig and major league teams have long sold dreams of riches to families in Latin America and the Caribbean. What those dreams end up turning into is exploitation of the worst sort or, in A-Rod’s case, an orchestrated effort to destroy a man’s legacy.
For those of us who have followed baseball the past 25 years or more, we know that the sport has no shame, not that it differs from the NFL in that regard. Still, we have hoped that baseball, America’s national pastime, would be different; it would reward performance; it would nurture talent on whatever level; it would be a meritocracy: one standard for all.
Baseball is not that, Mateo’s ad said. It isn’t that because of Selig, whom Mateo called “Public Enemy No. 1 in Baseball.”
The label fits Selig; it fits because of the disgraceful way he has dealt with the “Steroid Era” in baseball and the punishment he has exacted on ’roid abusers. Selig’s strategy has been less about solving the problem and more about saving face.
He has nothing left to save if baseball and sports fans elsewhere allow him to make Alex Rodriguez the scapegoat for a period that Selig allowed to thrive as he sat in luxury boxes and cheered for A-Rod, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and anybody else whose play led to a power surge that Con Edison would welcome.
“Willful blindness should be punishable,” Mateo’s ad said.
So should willful bigotry, and Selig and baseball have been bigoted far too long to let them continue to use their bigotry to profit off backs of people of color and malign their heroes.
Fernando Mateo refuses to let them continue, and I do too.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)