The Los Angeles Dodgers have turned into a never ending soap opera with a different twist and turn every week. It usually involves manager Don Mattingly and outfielder Yasiel Puig. This time the drama is being generated by questionable remarks made by former manager Tommy Lasorda, which begs the question, is Lasorda a racist?
The 86-year old Lasorda told an ABC affiliate in Florida Tuesday he hopes Donald Sterling’s former companion, V. Stiviano “gets run over by a car” and that he had been friends with Donald Sterling for 30 years.
The thought of Lasorda being prejudiced would seem ludicrous at first glance. Besides being a hall of fame manager, Lasorda is a beloved figure by all in the baseball world. He is considered one of the great ambassadors Major League Baseball has ever had, and there has never been an inkling of ignorance on matters of race from the Dodger great.
So where does this come from then? Loyalty? Friendship? Senility?
Wherever it came from this was the wrong way to express it. Lasorda comes off as a babbling old man stuck in a different era. Merely condemning Sterling for saying things he should not have said is not good enough. It wreaks of an attitude that Sterling should be smarter than to say something like this rather than the words or thought process of Sterling’s being wrong or unacceptable in society.
So now the Sterling and race story spins in two different directions for another news cycle. The first is obvious as the Los Angeles Clippers owner stays in the news with what would appear to be support from a very popular figure in sports world and the Los Angeles Community.
Which is where the second part of the story goes. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a great source of pride in LA and they are partially owned by Magic Johnson, another beloved figure in Southern California. Johnson also happens to be African-American, and was the target of some of Sterling’s remarks. At worst, these remarks invite the suspicion of racism on Lasorda’s part, and at best confirm ignorance. Lasorda is at Dodger games all the time. So is Magic. How does that play out?
How long will it be before the Dodgers comment on Lasorda’s remarks? Will they condemn his outburst, or do they just let it slide and assume everyone ignores the remarks of a senior citizen who would at the very least appear out of touch?
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig might have something to say as well. It would not be surprising if Selig had something to say about all of this. Selig is a huge fan and friend to MLB Hall of Famer and civil rights icon, Hank Aaron. Selig’s views on race and Lasorda’s remarks cannot co-exist. An apology or clarification from Lasorda has to be on the way.
The current Dodgers ownership group bought the team just over two years ago with a promise that the drama and questionable ethics of previous owner Frank McCourt would be a thing of the past. Certainly they have accomplished that. The Dodgers made the playoffs last season and are have the highest payroll in MLB. The days of being an embarassment seemed to be behind them.
This is new territory though. This is not the same thing as the daily drama that surround Mattingly and Puig. It must be dealt with swiftly and with a stern rebuke of Lasorda’s comments. An explanation from Lasorda for remarks that are at the very least insensitive vital as well.
Commentary By Mick Varner
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer