Yoán Moncada of the Chicago White Sox was up to bat today, in the top of the first inning of Game 2 of the ALDS against the Houston Astros. For the color commentary duo on MLB Network’s national broadcast, 82-year-old former big-league pitcher Jim Kaat, and 65-year-old former big-league manager Buck Showalter, the job is pretty straightforward. The national broadcast, ideally, is picking up viewers who do not typically watch either of these baseball teams, so it’s wise to give a bit of introduction for some of these players, and their first plate appearances provide a natural opportunity to do so. In Moncada’s case, this is not all that complicated: He is very talented. A very talented baseball player. That is what Jim Kaat and Buck Showalter, combined age of 147 years, want to say about him.
“This guy should be a star, an All-Star,” Kaat says, to start things off. Doing fine so far.
“That’s what they look like,” Showalter replies. “I don’t know about the rest of it—the first time I saw him in the big leagues, I looked around the dugout and I said, ‘Can we have one of those? That’s what they look like.'”
Already, these elderly white men are in a bit of peril. What these two geezers, whose literal job is to say things about the baseball played in front of them without waylaying the entire broadcast, are trying to say about Yoán Moncada of the Chicago White Sox, up to this point, is that he has a lot of talent for the sport of baseball. You can say this in hundreds of ways that will not somehow end in a racist remark.
What Kaat seems to wish to express in response to Showalter, who has just remarked about a time when he wanted a player like Moncada for his own baseball team, is something like, You’d be glad to have a lot of Yoán Moncadas for your baseball team. That seems to be what Kaat, 82, wants to say—once again, for emphasis, all in service to the very not-sophisticated observation that Yoán Moncada is good at baseball.
He could just say that! Heck, forget one—you’d be glad if all your players were as good as Moncada, Buck. That would be fine! This blog would not exist if Jim Kaat had said that. The destination these men are trying to reach during Moncada’s first trip to the plate is not some remote mountaintop. It is right there. I bet Kaat and Showalter have completed this side-quest, between the two of them, a combined 20,000 times. Just about the only way you can screw up the journey from here to there is if you decide that your route must detour through the Bog of Racism.
And the apology:
Somewhere, Nick Castellanos just felt a sudden inexplicable urge to swing a bat.