What American ballplayer wouldn’t want to sit on America’s bench?
We are constantly being told that America needs to embrace diversity, but it would be nice if the proponents of diversity would return the favor and embrace being American. Case in point is the ongoing World Baseball Classic, which could just as easily be called the Balkanized Ball Games.
Since its origins in 2006, the World Baseball Classic has taken place every three and now four years. Because baseball gets such shabby treatment from the Olympics — some cycles recognizing it as an Olympic sport, others not — this is baseball’s chance for each country to represent the game in a meaningful way. The fourth installment, with 16 countries competing, is currently under way.
I’d really like to get behind the WBC. Baseball has a deep talent pool from many different countries, and it could be fun and exciting rooting Team USA on as it goes up against baseball powerhouses such as Japan, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.
But my enthusiasm for the WBC has always been dampened as soon as I see the rosters for each international team. Case in point in the current games is talented young superstar, Manny Machado. Machado was born in Florida, grew up in Florida, and graduated from a Florida High School. He is a citizen of the United States and earns a nice living in America. Guess which team he has chosen to play for? The Dominican Republic. Why, you might ask? Because his ethnicity is Dominican.
USA Today, did a piece on Manny playing for the Dominican Republic, complete with the following from the slugger
“I wanted to do it for my family, not for myself,’’ Machado said of his choice to suit up for the Dominican instead of the U.S., which he represented in the 2009 Pan American Junior Championships. “Any opportunity like this, I get teared up.”
Machado is far from alone. Looking over the rosters of each international team, you see dozens of players have followed this logic. The Italian team is made mostly of U.S. players with Italian surnames, and Team Israel, which advanced to the second round of the WBC, is made up mostly of American Jews.
If ethnicity now trumps being an American, under this logic, Team USA should only send American Indians and direct descendants of the Mayflower to represent us at the WBC. Why have the pretense of country at all? Maybe the 2021 games can just have ethnic teams. Perhaps we shouldn’t have tryouts to make the squads, but all the players can take one of those DNA ancestor tests they advertise on TV and we can sort out the teams that way.
The term melting pot, representing the experience of immigrants assimilating to American customs and values, dates back to 1908, and as we now experience rapid demographic change, for us to survive as a nation, we need to be more of a melting pot than ever. Unfortunately for us, we are encouraged by our current culture and political correctness to self-segregate along ethnic lines. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal wasn’t equal, but in 2017, at every La Raza and Black Lives Matter rally and even the World Baseball Classic, we are reminded being American is less important to one’s identity than race and ethnicity.
I know you probably feel I’m taking this way too seriously. But each day we see new examples of America self-segregating along ethnic lines. The new trend on college campuses, from Columbia University to Fresno State, is to hold retreats where only certain races are included or excluded. Not to be outdone, Claremont students at Pitzer College are trying to bully white women from wearing hoop earrings on the grounds that such earrings come “from a historical background of oppression and exclusion.”
If Americans can’t even sit together on a bench in a baseball dugout without race being a factor, what hope do we have as a country? In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. I wonder what he would make of our recent progress.
Manny Machado (Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA/Creative Commons)