“Baseball,” said Padres closer Heath Bell, “is part of the culture of Arizona.”
Hispanics are a huge part of baseball’s culture, a solid percentage of players in the big leagues, and it’s clear that Arizona’s controversial new ruling aimed at stemming illegal immigration has outraged ballplayers as well as people across the country who’ve been raining down condemnation since Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law on April 23.
“For Arizona to do something like this?” Bell said. “Mind-boggling.”
Adrian Gonzalez, a star in the National League said this a few days ago:
It’s immoral,” Gonzalez said. “They’re violating human rights. In a way, it goes against what this country was built on. This is discrimination. Are they going to pass out a picture saying “You should look like this and you’re fine, but if you don’t, do people have the right to question you?’ That’s profiling.”
Governor Brewer says that “we have to trust our law enforcement,” but who can define "reasonable suspicion" clearly? I respect the police immensely, but this just adds to their arduous burden. And it only takes a few bad apples to tarnish them all.
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba wonders if he's in another crazy country.
Said catcher Yorvit Torrealba: “This is racist stuff. It’s not fair for a young guy who comes here from South America, and just because he has a strong accent, he has to prove on the spot if he’s illegal or not. I mean, I understand the need for security and the safety to people here, the question of legal and illegal. I get that. But I don’t see this being right.
“Why do I want to go play in a place where every time I go to a restaurant and they don’t understand what I’m trying to order, they’re going to ask me for ID first? That’s bull.
“I come from a crazy country (Venezuela). Now Arizona seems a little bit more crazy.”
And KC's Jose Guillen weighs in with this:
“I’ve never seen anything like that in the United States, and Arizona is part of the United States,” Kansas City Royals designated hitter Jose Guillen(notes) said. “I hope police aren’t going to stop every dark-skinned person. It’s kind of like, wow, what’s going on.
New York Mets catcher Rod Barajas, who was born in the United States after his parents emigrated from Mexico, told The New York Times, “If they happen to pull someone over who looks like they are of Latin descent, even if they are a U.S. citizen, that is the first question that is going to be asked. But if a blond-haired, blue-eyed Canadian gets pulled over, do you think they are going to ask for their papers? No.”
In June, one month before the law goes into effect, about 140 young Hispanic baseball players will arrive in the state for the Arizona Rookie League. Some MLB officials are worried how these young men will be treated by local authorities.
I've been working with various Latino and immigrant-rights groups on baseball and SB 1070. I may have some interesting news very soon.