Carl Crawford Ignores Heckles; Yahoo Canonizes

According to Big League Stew on Yahoo! Sports, DL’d, $142-million-dollar Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford saw criticism from fans while playing in New Hampshire during a rehab assignment. This time, the criticism was not drawn from his poor play. Fans reportedly shouted racist comments towards Crawford as he played in the outfield. 

While racism is blatantly wrong and ignorant, Big League Stew writer David Brown’s analysis of the incident makes Crawford sound like Mother Teresa, not a Major League Baseball player:

Booing and heckling has gone on since long before we had baseball, and it’s not realistic to expect it to disappear. Players will just have to deal with it. It’s too bad in Crawford’s case. He’s always seemed like a nice guy. He doesn’t want to be an underachiever. He’s trying to get healthy so he can start earning his contract. But he’ll have to deal with hecklers. And he is.

Carl Crawford has “always seemed like a nice guy,” to Brown, writing as if he has never met him. It is also nice to know that Crawford does not want to be an underachiever. Repeat: DOES NOT. What MLB player does? What professional athlete does? And he’ll have to deal with the heckles? Every athlete has to deal with heckles. Carl Crawford has to deal with them. LeBron James has to deal with them. Every college and high school athlete has to deal with them as well. Little Tommy playing third base for his travel baseball team may even have to deal with them. It’s sports. Making Carl Crawford sound like a martyr for being heckled as a professional athlete is ridiculous. Albeit the comments may have been racist, Carl Crawford is not the only baseball player in the league to hear a racial slur yelled at him. He is not Jackie Robinson. Racism is wrong, but it is still alive. Don’t be shocked by it.

Brown hallows Crawford for “turning the other cheek,” in response to the heckles. What else did you expect him to do? Jump into the stands and lay down a $114 Million Dollar Man beating? The one non-reaction by Crawford to a heckle is blown out of proportion by Brown. Remember: for every one good thing the cameras and reporters catch, there is another unsavory thing not reported.

April 28, 2011 became a damp night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards as Crawford and his Red Sox were about to finish off a 6-2 victory, avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Orioles. The fans began to dwindle in left field, but the loud ones remained; the ones who had thrown dollars at Crawford earlier in the game. With the park quiet, the fans laid into Crawford with various, non-racist heckles. One homophobic slur, however, was yelled. Crawford remained quiet and focused on the game as he is paid to do. When the last out was recorded, Crawford must have seen himself as off the clock. Crawford beat his mitt, took a step towards the infield, turned towards the fans, gave them the finger, and shouted the two word phrase that generally goes along with it.

Hardly saintlike behavior.

Crawford may be a nice guy on most days. Heck, when Crawford left a different game one night at Camden Yards, hands full with a Styrofoam container of food, he did not turn down fans’ requests for autographs. He, however, (surprisingly) and thankfully accepted my offer to carry his food as he signed baseballs.

Carl Crawford is not a bad guy for stooping to the level of the common heckler. Nor is he a saint for turning the other cheek to a racist slur, David Brown. He is like every other baseball player, every other human being who has had to respond to criticism and unkind words.


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