The Yankees' Josh Donaldson Still Doesn't Get It

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New York Yankees’ Josh Donaldson looks on during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Baltimore.
New York Yankees’ Josh Donaldson looks on during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Baltimore.

When the New York Yankees’ Josh Donaldson called Chicago White Sox pitcher Tim Anderson “Jackie” just before a bench-clearing scuffle last month, it was racist.

That’s not me saying so. Anderson took offense to being derisively called by the name of Major League Baseball’s first Black player. Major League Baseball agreed, suspending Donaldson for a game over the insult. Tony La Russa, the Sox’ manager, who is white, said so. The Yankees’ manager, Aaron Boone—also white—concurred. And Donaldson has since found himself on something of an island among his Yankees’, be they Black, white or multiracial.

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Apparently the only one who doesn’t yet understand this is Donaldson, who insisted after the game that the comment was an “inside joke” between he and Anderson (who disagrees), and he told the Associated Press yesterday that he doesn’t understand why his teammates don’t have his back.

From the Associated Press

“I think that was tough to hear, for sure, just for the simple fact that I pride myself on being a good teammate, and everywhere I’ve went, every organization that I’ve been a part of, minus Oakland, has offered me extensions, has wanted me to stay back,” Donaldson said during batting practice Wednesday, hours before a night game against the Angels was rained out.

He was referring to remarks from Boone and Aaron Judge, a biracial star center-fielder for the Yanks who said after the incident that he didn’t “think it’s the right thing to do there.”

Or maybe not anywhere where you’re sharing the field and a clubhouse with Black players. Or maybe not anywhere at all. Besides Judge, Donaldson also shares a clubhouse with Aaron Hicks, who is Black and Afro-Latino players Estevan Florial, Miguel Andújar, Miguel Castro and Luis Severino. Donaldson has maintained since the incident that he intended no disrespect in what he said to Anderson and has apologized to him and his family.

But even assuming his teammates take him at his word, Donaldson can’t seriously think that the other players—especially the Black ones—on his team would be happy about being brought to a near brawl over him invoking the name of one of their heroes to reduce one of their contemporaries.