Gary Sheffield was asked a simple question. Why aren't more black major leaguers vocally angry about the lack of African-Americans in baseball?
His answer is classic Sheffield and yet another example why Sheffield –- despite grand faults and a double-wide ego -– remains one of the more compelling and important athletes today.
|Sheffield isn't politically correct, but is addressing the issue of blacks in baseball. (US Presswire)|
"A lot of them look black on the outside but they are not black on the inside," Sheffield told me. "I can tell there are a lot of fake brothers (in baseball)."
But wait -- Sheffield is just getting started.
To Sheffield, while there remains a great deal of racism in baseball –- he said baseball is "a white game and a white sport ... it always has been and always will be" –- too many blacks in the game are almost co-conspirators because they remain silent and docile.
In other words, so few of them publicly challenge either the racism in the sport or the economic choices the sport is making which impacts blacks, that they are almost complicit in the problem.
"What black players fail to realize is each player sticks up for its own race," Sheffield said. "Whites stick up for whites, Mexicans stick up for Mexicans. We're the only ones who don't."
Whew. Man, that's blunt. Makes you want to squirm in your chair. But it's positively true.
Like him or not, Sheffield is no dummy and his ability to say things other athletes (or fans for that matter) are thinking -– but afraid to say –- make him vital at a time when baseball players both black and white spend too much time kissing up to corporate sponsors and not enough time protesting baseball's policies.
"If you walk around with a bunch of athletes," Sheffield said, "and follow them ... a bunch of them are fakes. I'm not backing down. I'm going to say it. If someone asks a direct question, I'll answer it."
Is your stomach churning? Your blood boiling? So what. We need athletes like Sheffield to sometimes shake us out of our racial slumber and stupidly naïve belief that all is well in race and sports in 21st century America.
So his words are not always politically correct or perfectly coifed. Sheffield isn't trying to be secretary of state or the archbishop of Canterbury.