Now, I'm sure Royals catcher Humberto Quintero didn't have any malicious intent toward Bruce Chen, but the lack of intent doesn't make the racial gesture pictured above during Saturday's Royals-Pirates game excusable.
Chen, a native of Panama of Chinese descent, is an affable, likable player and it's unlikely Quintero was meaning to insult him. However, his actions were nonetheless offensive. While it's common for such insensitive joking to occur in the clubhouse, that doesn't make it right or make it appropriate for national television.
Chen, it must be noted, took to Twitter to note he was not offended by the actions.
I am proud to be of asian descent and I love the way my eyes look!I think it makes me look sexy.I am not offended by Quinteros actions— Bruce Chen (@ChenMusic) June 10, 2012
Humberto is my friend and he was pointing out one of my best attributes, my eyes! #proudtobeofasiandescent— Bruce Chen (@ChenMusic) June 10, 2012
Give tons of credit to Chen for diffusing the situation and defnding his teammate. It's another example of why Chen is beloved by current and former teammates alike. It's a testament to Chen that he can roll with the punches. That said, it doesn't mean there were those who saw the incident on TV that weren't offended.
The incident took place in the bottom of the fourth inning of the nationally televised contest, as Fox's Kenny Albert and Tom Verducci interviewed the Royals starter.
While the duo didn't address Quintero's gesture over Chen's left shoulder, Albert did say, "You do not want to look over your left shoulder, or your right shoulder right now, we won't give away the culprits, but I'm sure you'll be hearing about it."
Over Chen's right shoulder, Jarrod Dyson threw sunflower seeds at Chen.
Chen responded, "Well, I'm going to make sure I check the video to see who are the guys doing it."
Later Verducci noted his teammates were a "loose group," as Quintero continued to pepper Chen with sunflower seeds. Chen joked that he'd check the tape and "somebody's going down." It seemed cute and fun in the dugout as a group of athletes, but by that point it had already crossed a line.
Chen absolved his teammate, but with that kind of thing, it's not just Chen who can take offense. It's the type of thing that shouldn't be done on a preschool playground, much less a big league ballpark by a 32-year-old. Despite Chen's tweet, Quintero owes not just Chen, but everyone a sincere apology.
It should also be noted that the interview took place while the Royals and Pirates were honoring the Negro Leagues by wearing uniforms of the Kansas City Monarchs and Homestead Greys. While those uniforms remind us of a time when racism was more prevelant and had direct implications to millions, Quintero shows us that while we have progressed as a society since then, we still have a ways to go.
You can argue that these types of interview shouldn't take place, or that Quintero didn't mean any harm, but that makes it no less insulting to Chen and any other Asians who happened to be watching. This is not about being politically correct, it's simply about being correct.
Hat-tip: Big League Stew
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