From the desk of: Head-Butting Mr. Met
Andy Martino of the N.Y. Daily News brought up a fair question as to whether the fan's negative sentiment towards Luis Castillo was partly based on racism.
NEW YORK METS:
File this under; "Things I Hate Talking About That Sometimes Need To Be Talked About"
I believe the only bad question you can ask is the one that isn't asked. The real life vigil against racism should never rest. And any conversation concerning racism is good conversation regardless of what direction the conversation may go. Identifying and understanding differing opinions in an open manner is as necessary to the discourse as any other aspect regarding racism, hatred, and ignorance.
...as in, this is my third attempt at this post. I want to say too much. But, way back when, I made a promise that I wouldn't take myself too seriously when it comes to my blog. In addition to that, Racism is just too broad a topic for me to tackle here.
But I will tell you where I'm coming from.
I am half Puerto Rican and half Sicilian. In all honesty, this volatile mix of blood requires attitude adjustments and mood management on a daily, and almost hourly basis. Trying to keep my disposition on a leash is a challenge for me. But I'm self aware, and that's an even bigger challenge for me to conquer because as they say, Ignorance is Bliss. I am fully in touch with both sides of my heritages to include command of the languages. My foundation was reinforced with trips and stays to my two "mother-lands".
Racism is alive and well people! I hope no one is in denial of that fact. I'll have that conversation with you; but just not here. I'm going to take it upon myself and lessen the severity of the word Racism for Mr. Martino and inject myself into this and say the problem is with Ethnocentrism. The word is a downgrade from Racism, but equally disturbing in it's practice and dynamics. But I also think it's a more accurate descriptive of today's problem.
Racism is something wholly different. Racists do not befriend their enemies and those they have contempt for just because they're at a ball game. But ethno-centrists can and sometimes do. Racists, true racists, make no secrets of their beliefs. Ethno-centrists at a game however, are "usually" revealed according to their degree of intoxication. Two ethno-centrists can become friends. It happens all the time. At a minimum, ethnocentrists can even declare a truce for the length of a game then go back to being close minded afterwards. But make no mistake, ethnocentrism can be and is, just as derisive and hurtful as racism to the recipient and still fuels hatred on an equally disturbing level.
Getting back to me, I have flourished in both the White World and the Latino World. But I do look white. It's not until you know me or I am placed in a Latino environment, that you will pick-up on that. My first language is Brooklynese. What is more important to me above all is that I am a native New Yorker, and above that I'm a born and bred Brooklynite. That's how I identify myself. I get that from my mother; the Puerto Rican. Above all else, she calls herself a New Yorker. She came to NYC 60 years ago. She tried retiring and leaving NYC. With my sister's encouragement, she moved to Florida so they could be closer. Two years later she was back and rejoined the NYC hustle. She said Florida almost killed her. She still takes the train to her office everyday without fail. She said when she does die, I'm not allowed to send her back to P.R. to be buried in their family plot. It's on me to make sure she always remains in NYC. She was born in a (now) historical district of a town which is Puerto Rico's equivalent to America's Salem, Mass. It's a great place and many of my relatives still live in the town. They are a baseball family with many ties, connections, and friendships. Mom has two nephews in Major League Baseball. She was the one who impressed upon me the importance of speaking well. She had the language mastered long before I was born and always stressed how important a tool effective speaking was. My Pop? LOL...don't make me laugh. He didn't give a damn about English, but did just fine for himself with his Anglotalian. He actually did better with Spanish. By the way, my mom learned Italian too. What she doesn't appreciate is Brooklynese.
Here's where it all gets sticky. Of course I play both roles to suit my needs when ever I can. Why not? Advantage mine. I'm equally equipped to exist as an Italian White or as a Latino. Here's the uglier part of this dynamic. There are times when a white man is supremely confident he is in the presence of a like-minded white man in me, and winds up saying the most heinous things about Latinos while unaware of my being Puerto Rican. And I must admit I love throwing them for a loop when I correct them (if I correct them). And as a half-Italian, I get that from the Italians all the time. Then I get the classic - Oh, but you're not like the others.
Most times, I willingly chose to say nothing without a hint of reaction. I do it because I like to learn. I like to see people behaving in their natural environment, if you follow me. I admit, it's akin to looking at their souls through a key hole. The real ethnocentrists for some reason like to swing the door wide open for me! LOL. It's like being a double-agent (key 007 theme music here).
But I pick and choose my moments for when I'm feeling feisty or just want to be passive aggressive. I like making people look stupid that way because when you're self-confident and use tact, you can get away with it. There are also the times when Latinos are so sure I am "them", that they also will offer their truer insights regarding the white man. Of course I'm only speaking to the small number of bad apples in every-one's societal pocket. The problem is, I know exactly how these two worlds think. I also understand language barriers and the perceptions that arise from them. And I think we're all rather well versed in stereotypes.
This isn't a South Park episode. This is Madison Square Garden.
Last night at the NY Rangers game, there was a certain inebriated Viking (was that wrong of me?) that supplied my section with a continuous stream of "SPIC" jokes targeted at Scott Gomez; "the Filthy Mexican" who now plays for the Montreal Canadiens. But even before the game started, during the National Anthems no less, Mister Liquid Courage launched his first verbal scud. A public school's choir from Staten Island had the honor of singing the American and Canadian National Anthems. One Spanish looking little girl had a solo-part during the American anthem. So Mister Idiot Water screamed out, "take a bath you filthy Mexican" when they put her face on the screen as she sang.
I get tickets for games from my season-ticket holding friends. So I am in that section infrequently. But this individual and I did have a moment to "chat" the last time me, him, and Scott Gomez were all there on the same night together last season. It was a simple exchange; discrete, and no one got disrespected. No one ever even realized I called him out on his indiscretion because of the way I handled it when an opportunity presented itself. But to his credit, there were no more "SPIC" jokes that night.
By the way, I don't drink at games for a number of reasons. But none of my reasons are of the self-righteous variety. Beer at games is cool with me. But bad drinkers suck. I take this into account when I attend games. I'm good to go if you know what I mean. I'll handle myself. But I understand I'm the one exercising more patience in a crowd than the guy with an Ale in his hand.
So last night, after about 10 minutes in and a "SPIC" joke that really went over the top, my attempts to ignore him failed. I turned to him as he was a few rows behind me and put my hands up as if to say, "WHY Bro?" He saw me, acknowledged, and that pretty much ended the SPIC jokes. Then what followed was an all out assault on anything Canadien and everything Canadian. The guy was ruthless. I had two older French-Speaking Canadians sitting to my left whom also had words with Sir-Drink-A-Lot. Beer Boy did have a friend who squealed equally foul rubbish, but it wasn't too hard to figure out who was leading who. This guy took his Canadian laced debauchery seriously and was angry about it.
This dude wasn't the first guy; the first game; the first arena or stadium; the first city; or first anything. He's just one guy who gives a lot of people a bad name regardless of what color crayon you are.
So what the hell does all this have to do with Luis Castillo and Andy Martino? I don't really know, but I know what Andy Martino was trying to say, and the ethnocentric, game long rant my section was in attendance for last night at the Ranger game, are loosely connected.
The Latino Gate/Phobia Andy Martino made reference to reminded me of the amusement I had as that whole thing went down between, Paul LoDuca, Billy Wagner and various Latino players. Yes, I was amused, because it was no different than any other scapegoating or crusade the Media feels like inspiring. I heard the radio show callers complain about Omar and the LatinOzation of the MetropoLATINOS. I heard them. I'm just not sure I ever believed that was a prevailing sentiment among Met Fans. I do believe MOST people are very tolerant of each other.
I've pondered Latino Gate before from both sides of the fence, because I can. And I never felt LatinOzation was the plan or (un)intended goal.
Andy Martino wondered if racism played a part in Luis Castillo's problems with the Mets. I also heard Mr. Mike'd Up say the reason Luis Castillo was hated here was because he never smiled or looked happy and never did anything to make us forget the dropped pop-up against the Yankees.
Wow. Who knew? It's all so brilliant. That's why they are the professionals and I'm just a dumb blogger.
I thought the reason Luis Castillo was never liked here was because EVERYONE knew signing him to a four year deal for ludicrous money was a horrible mistake! The Twins were lucky to squeeze the last good days out of him. So coming here, NO ONE thought we were getting that player the moment he signed. He could have sailed into Flushing Bay on the Mayflower and he still would not have been liked because the deal was BAD! We could have dealt with a two year deal. But we gave him four years that proved to be a horrible idea after the first season.
Andy Martino had no business injecting race into Luis Castillo's Spring Training and over-all team situation. None! Luis Castillo could have been VULCAN and it wouldn't have made us like him more. The more he got injured and didn't fill our need at second base the less we liked him. Because of the four year deal, we were handcuffed in any attempt to upgrade second base. So we disliked him even more. The dropped pop-up was just a log on the fire.
Luis Castillo was not disliked by Mets fans because he is a dark skinned Dominican!
Damn it I hope the Mayans are right about this Age of Man. If there was something there to work with, Martino would be justified throwing a stick like that in the spokes at this time. But no one has even mentioned Latino Gate until Martino brought it back to the printed page. He was trying to make A and B equal C, but it doesn't add up for me. I feel like I'm qualified to agree or disagree with such a line of questioning. That's why I think his article is a big swing and a miss.