Stephen Smith defends white Yankees player suspended for calling black MLB shortstop ‘Jackie’: Wrong to attach racism

(Video Credit: ESPN)

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith stepped up to the proverbial plate and defended New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson on Monday after he called White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson “Jackie,” who became offended over it and clapped back calling Donaldson racist.

Smith appeared on “First Take” and remarked that confrontations such as the one between Donaldson and Anderson “annoy the living hell out of me.”

“Here’s what upsets me about this. We are having a conversation about race and I can’t sit here and tell you that anything Josh Donaldson said was racist,” he said defending Donaldson. “I think that it is actually wrong for people to attach racism or ‘racist’ to Josh Donaldson today or for this incident.”

“Here is why I am annoyed by it. We gotta make sure when we make accusations like that that it counts. It’s damn near pretty irrefutable what you are… And then when real, bonafide, undeniable, unequivocal racist behavior is exhibited and put on display, people get to feign denials and all of this other stuff because so many times we’re bringing this up. I’m just saying we gotta be careful,” Smith asserted.

“Everybody ain’t racist, but there’s quite a few damn racists in this country,” he charged. “Ain’t no question about it. All I’m saying is, when you call somebody racist, I need to be able to look and go ‘yeah, yeah that’s true.’ There can’t be this kind of wiggle room because you dilute real pertinent racist issues and you take the profile away from real racists. That’s what you got to be careful of as a black person.”

The jab occurred during the White Sox-Yankees game at Yankees Stadium on Saturday, according to The New York Times. It immediately blew up in the media afterward and Donaldson was subsequently fined and suspended for it.

Donaldson claimed that the “Jackie” comment was part of a long-standing joke with Anderson. Donaldson is white and Anderson is black. The name stems from a 2019 Sports Illustrated interview where Anderson called himself “today’s Jackie Robinson.”

“So first inning, I called him ‘Jackie.’ Let me give you a little context of that,” commented Donaldson. “In 2019, he came out with an interview, said that he’s the new Jackie Robinson of baseball and he’s going to bring back fun for the game, right? In 2019, when I played for Atlanta, we actually joked about that in the game. I don’t know what’s changed.”

“My meaning of that is not in any term trying to be racist, by any fact of the matter. It was just off of an interview with what he called himself,” he continued. “Obviously he deemed that it was disrespectful and look, if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do, by any matter.”

(Video Credit: YESNetwork)

“He just made a disrespectful comment,” Anderson commented. “Basically was trying to call me Jackie Robinson, like ‘what’s up Jackie?’ I don’t play like that. I don’t really play at all. I wasn’t really gonna bother nobody today. But he made the comment, and it was disrespectful. I don’t think it was called for.”

White Sox manager Tony La Russa also called Donaldson’s words “racist.”

“There is no dispute over what was said on the field,” a statement from MLB contended. “Regardless of Mr. Donaldson’s intent, the comment he directed toward Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and in poor judgment, particularly when viewed in the context of their prior interactions. In addition, Mr. Donaldson’s remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline.”

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