Just the kind of positive reinforcement Carl Crawford needs: He says a fan shouted a racial slur at him Thursday night as Crawford continued his injury rehab assignment for Portland, Boston's Class AA team. It happened at a ballpark in Manchester, N.H., which ought to shame people of that community. I'd like to think other fans sitting near the person who obscenely taunted Crawford had the jerk thrown out — unless it's acceptable there to be racist.
Crawford, who is black, didn't tell reporters on the record what was said, but he did say:
"People in Boston don't even do that so I don't even know what that was about."
That's one of the great backhanded compliments of all time, on a couple of levels. Crawford, who signed a seven-year, $142 million free-agent deal with the Red Sox before the 2011 season, has had to deal with relentless criticism ever since. Much of it is understandable, given Boston's concurrent struggles the past two seasons. Some of it's been mean — and even that is to be expected. Being called racist names is another matter. Here's Crawford addressing the incident on video found via NESN:
Crawford, to his credit, turned the other cheek and responded with reason:
"I can understand why people can be upset about me signing my contract and me having the kind of year I had. I understand," Crawford said. "They love their team and they want you to produce when you signed the contract like that. I can't get mad at them. All I can do is just get ready to play this year and try to produce."
Of course, at least one dim fan calling this WEII-AM/NESN TV show somehow blamed Crawford for hearing the racism.
"As long as we keep talking about racism, it'll never go away. ... There's some people who walk through this world and can't help but hear those sort of things."
Spoken like a racist.
Booing and heckling has gone on since long before we had baseball, and it's not realistic to expect it to disappear. Players will just have to deal with it. It's too bad in Crawford's case. He's always seemed like a nice guy. He doesn't want to be an underachiever. He's trying to get healthy so he can start earning his contract. But he'll have to deal with hecklers. And he is.
It's probably not realistic to expect racism to disappear, either, but it's also reasonable that we ask each other to stop being racist. Nobody needs to hear that stuff at the ballpark. Don't ever take it there.
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