The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, November 20, 2017, Page Page 7, Image 7

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    SPORTS / U.S.A.
November 20, 2017
THE ASIAN REPORTER n Page 7
Asians in American sports w Asian Americans in world sports
Asian highs and lows on the World Series mound
By Mike Street
Special to The Asian Reporter
his year’s Major League Baseball
(MLB) World Series was one of the
best ever, featuring some great as
well as terrible performances by Asian
pitchers Kenta Maeda and Yu Darvish.
But a racist incident directed at Darvish
shows how far Asian MLB players have
come — and how far they still have to go.
Both Darvish and Maeda came to MLB
after successful careers in Japan’s Nippon
Professional Baseball (NPB). One of the
most hyped Japanese pitchers ever,
Darvish began his MLB career in 2012
with the Texas Rangers, who paid nearly
$110 million to sign him to a six-year deal.
Living up to the hype, Darvish led the
league in strikeouts in his second season
and has averaged more than a strikeout
per inning while steadily driving his walk
rate down. He has earned four All-Star
appearances in five MLB seasons, missing
2015 due to Tommy John surgery.
Older than Darvish and already
suffering from elbow problems, Maeda was
signed in 2016 by Los Angeles to an eight-
year contract worth at least $25 million.
After a solid 2016, Maeda struggled to
start this season, was demoted to the
bullpen, and later returned to the rotation
and completed another strong season.
Darvish joined Maeda on the Dodgers at
the trade deadline when the Rangers, out
of contention, swapped him to Los Angeles.
The Asian pitching duo proved essential to
the
Dodgers’
early-round
playoff
successes, as Darvish won his two starts,
surrendering one run in each, and Maeda
pitched five scoreless, hitless innings over
five games.
In the World Series, the Dodgers faced
an excellent Houston Astros team that
included Yuli Gurriel, a Cuba-born player
who played for the NPB’s Yokohama Bay
Stars in 2014. Two years later, Gurriel
defected to the U.S. and signed with the
Astros. After working his way up in the
minors, Gurriel spent 2017 as Houston’s
first baseman before creating the feel-bad
story of this year’s World Series.
Darvish started Game 3 of the World
Series after the teams split the first two
games. After a scoreless first inning, Dar-
vish allowed a leadoff home run to Gurriel
in the second. Gurriel rounded the bases
and returned to the dugout, where he was
caught on camera pulling his eyes into a
slant and apparently saying “chinito,” a
derogatory Spanish term for Asians.
Though he did not see the gesture,
Darvish surrendered three more runs and
AP Photo/Tim Bradbury, Pool
AP Photo/Eric Gay
T
was replaced before the end of the inning.
Houston went on to win, 5-3, giving
Darvish the loss, and after the game,
discussion swirlled around Gurriel’s racist
conduct.
When asked about the gesture, Gurriel
apologized, explaining that “chinito” was a
common Cuban term he hadn’t intended in
an offensive way. He said he used the
gesture and the term to joke that Darvish
had given him an easy pitch to hit because
he thought Gurriel was Japanese.
For his part, Darvish was gracious and
forgiving, saying the gesture was
“disrespectful to people around the world,”
but added “Nobody’s perfect … We’ll learn
from it and we have to go forward.” Gurriel
offered to apologize to Darvish personally,
but Darvish said it wasn’t necessary.
The league chose to suspend Gurriel for
five games at the start of next season,
explaining that the player’s union would
likely have appealed any suspension that
kept Gurriel out of the World Series. The
resulting arbitration hearing would have
created even more off-field drama, and the
arbitrator could have postponed Gurriel’s
suspension until next season anyway.
And since players do not accrue salary
during the postseason, suspending him
next season ensures he will suffer a pay
cut.
The series continued with Gurriel still
playing. The Dodgers scored five runs in
the ninth to win Game 4, and the Astros
won a slugfest in Game 5, 13-12. Then Los
Angeles came back from an early deficit to
win Game 6, 3-1, setting up a winner-take-
all Game 7 in an already dramatic series.
As he had been in the playoffs, Maeda
MOUND MANAGEMENT. This year’s Major
League Baseball (MLB) World Series was one of the
best ever, featuring some great as well as terrible per-
formances by Asian pitchers Kenta Maeda (top photo)
and Yu Darvish (bottom photo). But a racist incident
directed at Darvish shows how far Asian MLB players
have come — and how far they still have to go.
was brilliant throughout the series,
throwing almost six scoreless innings
across four games. But he did not appear in
Game 7, which was started by Darvish,
seeking redemption.
But Darvish struggled with his control,
again failing to escape the second inning
after giving up five runs to the Astros.
While the off-field drama might have
unsettled Darvish, a more likely
explanation lies in the baseballs.
Many pitchers complained that the
official World Series baseballs were too
slick, making it harder to control breaking
pitches like Darvish’s slider. So, more
pitches caught too much of the plate, and
more of those pitches were hit hard. The
statistics bear this out, as the eight home
runs in Game 2 and the 24 total home runs
in the series are both World Series records.
But instead of a record-breaking series,
what will remain in the memory of Asian
sports fans is Gurriel’s racist conduct
towards Darvish and its consequences —
or lack thereof.
On the one hand, we can take heart from
the outrage against Gurriel. No significant
sportswriter tried to defend him, dismiss
the outrage, or argue against a suspension.
His behavior was acknowledged and
condemned as obvious racism, and Gurriel
himself was instantly contrite.
On the other hand, Gurriel’s punish-
ment is relatively minor and did not affect
his World Series performance. When he
initially made the gesture, none of his
teammates apparently called him out on
it. Moreover, his behavior is a clear indica-
tion that racism still exists in baseball.
Baseball, like other American major-
league sports, has a long history of racist
policies, players, and practices that it has
only relatively recently begun to address.
Baseball was segregated for 60 years, and
the last team to integrate, the Boston Red
Sox, did so less than 60 years ago.
Five years after that, Masanori
Murakami became the first Japan-born
MLB player. But only in the last 16 years
have Asian players joined MLB in signifi-
cant numbers. Clearly, far more progress
needs to be made. We can only hope that
the low point of this year’s World Series
draws greater attention to racism in sports
and that this kind of behavior no longer
finds a place in our national pastime.
Trump choosing white men as judges, highest rate in decades
By Catherine Lucey and Meghan Hoyer
The Associated Press
W
ASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is
nominating white men to America’s federal
courts at a rate not seen in nearly 30 years,
threatening to reverse a slow transformation toward a
judiciary that reflects the nation’s diversity.
So far, 91 percent of Trump’s nominees are white, and
81 percent are male, an Associated Press analysis has
found. Three of every four are white men, with few African
Americans and Hispanics in the mix. The last president to
nominate a similarly homogenous group was George H.W.
Bush.
The shift could prove to be one of Trump’s most
enduring legacies. These are lifetime appointments, and
Trump has inherited both an unusually high number of
vacancies and an aging population of judges. That puts
him in a position to significantly reshape the courts that
decide thousands of civil-rights, environmental,
criminal-justice, and other disputes across the country.
The White House has been upfront about its plans to
quickly fill the seats with conservatives, and has made it
clear that judicial philosophy tops any concerns about
shrinking racial or gender diversity.
Trump is anything but shy about his plans, calling his
imprint on the courts an “untold story” of his presidency.
“Nobody wants to talk about it,” he says. “But when you
think of it ... that has consequences 40 years out.” He
predicted at a recent cabinet meeting, “A big percentage of
the court will be changed by this administration over a
very short period of time.”
Advocates for putting more women and racial
minorities on the bench argue that courts that more
closely reflect the demographics of the population ensure
a broader range of viewpoints and inspire greater
confidence in judicial rulings.
One court that has become a focus in the debate is the
Eastern District of North Carolina, a region that, despite
its sizeable black population, has never had a black judge.
A seat on that court has been open for more than a decade.
George W. Bush named a white man, and Barack Obama
at different points nominated two black women, but none
of those nominees ever came to a vote in the senate.
Trump has renominated Bush’s original choice: Thomas
Farr, a private attorney whose work defending North
Carolina’s redistricting maps and a voter identification
law has raised concerns among civil-rights advocates.
Kyle Barry, senior policy counsel for the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said that
when diversity is lacking, “there’s a clear perception
where the courts are not a place people can go and
vindicate their civil rights.”
In recent decades, Democrats have consistently named
more racial minorities and women to the courts. But even
compared to his Republican predecessors, Trump’s
nominees stand out. So far, he has nominated the highest
percentage of white judges in his first year since Ronald
Reagan. If he continues on his trend through his first
term, he will be the first Republican since Herbert Hoover
to name fewer women and minorities to the court than his
GOP predecessor.
The AP reviewed 58 nominees to lifetime positions on
appellate and district courts, as well as the Supreme
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