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Dunn done in Cincy? (cont.)

Posted: Monday June 11, 2007 11:55AM; Updated: Tuesday June 12, 2007 11:07AM
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Sheffield batted .000 with his comments

Gary Sheffield has had a lot to say with his bat and his mouth recently.
Gary Sheffield has had a lot to say with his bat and his mouth recently.
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Gary Sheffield did the two things he does best this week: He hit a bunch and he stuck his size 12s in his mouth.

Sheffield, who has hit five home runs in his past seven games and has belted 17 bombs after hitting only two in April, sounded like a raving racist when he explained to GQ his theory about why there are more and more Latin players and fewer African-Americans in the game. Said Sheffield, "What I called is that you're going to see more black faces, but there ain't no English going to be coming out. ... [It's about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do, being able to control them. Where I'm from, you can't control us."

Sheffield managed to stereotype Latins as overly docile and African-Americans as troublesome in back-to-back sentences, a rare quinella of stupidity.

But he compounded his foolishness in follow-up interviews when he tried to explain how Major League Baseball was catering to Latins but not blacks.

"The subject was players of my race and what we deal with and why they don't look in the inner cities for that same talent that they do in other places," he said. "[Latin players] have a backing, a support when they come off the island, and black players don't ...

And Sheffield continued, "When you see Major League Baseball putting academies in other countries, obviously that throws up a red flag. You wonder why they ain't going up in our neighborhood. Bottom line, what I see, I talk about. ... I see it over and over. if anybody can show me I'm wrong, then show me."

That's where MLB had to step in. According to Jimmie Lee Solomon, baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, MLB just put up a $10 million baseball facility in Compton, Calif. called the Urban Youth Academy, complete with four fields and a 12,500-square foot clubhouse on a 10-acre plot.

Not only that, but Solomon said that the Atlanta Braves put up an academy in Atlanta with the financial backing of Chipper Jones, Mike Hampton, Brian Jordan and John Smoltz. In addition, a site is being selected in Washington, D.C., the Phillies are building an academy in Philly, the Red Sox in Boston and the Astros in Houston.

Plus, MLB has run the RBI program since 1991, with 165,000 of 200,000 of its young ballplayers playing in the U.S. And there's more. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund, a joint venture from MLB and the Players Association, has targeted $10 million in grants to aid baseball in inner cities and impoverished areas.

It's no surprise that Sheffield spoke without facts, which has been a bad habit of his over the years.

"If Gary had taken the time to call the office, he could have said, 'That's not enough,'" Solomon said. "But not to get the facts ... well, that's unfortunate."

Around the Majors

• Baltimore's an improved team, but manager Sam Perlozzo isn't quite off the hook (to borrow a phrase). Not yet, he isn't.

Josh Beckett (9-0, 2.88 ERA) might be looking at a Bob Welch-like season (27-6, 2.95 ERA in 1990). Or is it Roger Clemens from 1986 (24-4, 2.48 ERA)? That year Clemens started the year 14-0.

• Dodgers closer Takashi Saito's streak of 26 straight saves is over. But he's still 40-for-43 lifetime. That's 93 percent, which is good, but not as good as Gagne.

• I've got Trevor Hoffman marked as a "yes" on my Hall of Fame ballot. And he didn't even need that 500th save.

• Nice getaway performance from the Phillies, getting trounced 17-5 by the Royals.

Randy Johnson looked like the old Unit vs. Boston, not the one who masqueraded in a Yankee uniform the past two years.

• Johnson's buddy (OK, that's an exaggeration) Curt Schilling looks like he's worth every penny of that $13 million annual salary he sought. In fact, if he had a real agent (he reps himself), he could probably boost it to $15 million.

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