Last night, New York Yankee star first baseman Mark Teixeira hit a two-run triple against Boston Red Sox middle relief pitcher Vicente Padilla. For anyone watching the game, there was the interesting subtext that the two had been teammates with the Texas Rangers a few years ago, but that sort of thing happens in baseball often enough that I wouldn’t be writing an article about it if that were the extent of it.
What happened afterward is nothing short of a public relations nightmare for both players. Apparently the two had been involved in a feud that dated back to when both played for the Rangers, a feud which became very public after last night’s game.
The short version is, Teixeira alleged that Padilla had been head-hunting (intentionally throwing at him with an intent to injure him) ever since they stopped being teammates, and that his tendency to throw at other players put his own teammates at risk because opposing pitchers would naturally retaliate. Padilla responded by alleging that Teixeira was prejudiced against Latin players and would probably be more comfortable playing a “women’s game.”
For anyone who thinks I’m overreacting here, we need no further proof of Padilla’s sexism than his own words. When asked to retract his statement because it was insulting to female athletes, Padilla declined, stating that “we are all men” in baseball and that there was nothing wrong with what he said. If the allegation regarding Teixeira’s bias against Latin players is also true, I am frankly embarrassed for both players, and Major League Baseball in general. Just what we need: a feud between a sexist player on one hand and a xenophobic player on the other hand.
Aside from the obvious lack of professionalism on the players’ part, I think the most embarrassing thing in this mess is that Padilla, in the process of accusing another player of being biased against Latin athletes, showed an utter lack of respect for women, and didn’t see any problem with that even when directly asked about it after the fact.
I’m just embarrassed for both of these players. No one comes out of this looking good. It looks quite a bit worse for Padilla whose prejudice is on record and unapologetic (which also hurts the credibility of his allegations against Teixeira), but the entire situation is just so painfully awkward for both players.
(Hey, look: all it takes to get me to actually talk about the over-hyped Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is a conflict between two allegedly prejudiced players!)