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On playing the home run race card
Posted: Thursday September 24, 1998 08:50 PM
I'd like to apologize for paying attention this summer to Mark McGwire, white man. I'm sorry. I thought I was paying attention to Mark McGwire, home run hitter extraordinaire, a guy who is whacking baseballs to unimaginable places at an unimaginable rate, breaking a record that seemed inscribed in stone. Stupid me. I have been paying attention because McGwire is white.
That has been the contention of more than one commentator during the stretch run of long balls. I'm sure you've heard it -- the idea that the American sports establishment is making a big deal of McGwire, who is white, while neglecting the effort of his closest pursuer, Sammy Sosa, who is black and Hispanic.
I guess I'm part of that sports establishment, so I guess I'm as guilty as anyone. I thought I'd been captivated simply by this big man doing these big things he'd been doing for a decade. He had biceps the size of my head. I'm sorry. I guess I was captivated by the fact he had white biceps the size of my white head.
I should mention that as part of the sports establishment I have emptied out the dictionary -- emptied it out -- in praise of Michael Jordan. I also rushed to put Tiger Woods at the top of the golfing ladder after his one big win at the Masters. And I have fallen in love with the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, even though neither has won any tournament of note.
I know that none of this matters, of course, because in the moment of truth I have paid more attention to McGwire than Sosa. I must be guilty of some politically incorrect feeling. I should apologize. Right?
This is sick. This is really sick.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Leigh Montville appears regularly on CNN/Sports Illustrated.
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