Since no one asked me

Our analysis shows that while black players are not discriminated against, foreign-born players—of which the vast majority are Latino—find themselves at a disadvantage.

Adam Felder and Seth Amitin, the Atlantic.

Both the Atlantic’s study on racism in broadcast booths and Russell Carleton’s follow-up for Baseball Prospectus are worth reading, and put data to assumptions long since made in many baseball discussions. I believe we are all helplessly biased in every single thing we do, so it’s not surprising to learn that some rather unfortunate biases might play out statistically when so many words are tracked and coded. Of course, those tracking and coding are biased too, and so on.

But that’s besides the point. No one asked me and probably no one ever will, but in neither study did anyone mention the role of language in what’s being attributed to racism in broadcast booths.

It doesn’t say, but I assume the broadcasts being studied were English-language broadcasts. Broadcasters travel with teams and regularly spend time in the home and away clubhouses. When you see a guy every day and communicate with him casually, you develop a relationship with him and, presumably, it becomes way more difficult to go up to the broadcast booth and rip him for his laziness. I’ve had this happen myself: It’s conflicting, but there are players I have been reluctant to criticize even when I feel their play calls for it because they are simply too friendly. Maybe that’s unprofessional, but it’s decidedly human.

So I’d love to see these studies broken down further. Are Latino players who speak fluent English as likely as their monolingual counterparts to be criticized on a broadcast? I suspect not, but then there’s certainly some selection bias present in the group of foreign-born players willing and able to learn to speak fluent English.

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