On the Day 42 is Being Released, Jimmy Rollins Gives Many Controversial Thoughts on Race and Baseball

Speaking to the New York Daily News’ Andy Martino, a former Phillies beat writer and underwear wearer, Jimmy Rollins had plenty of candid, and sure to be controversial, thoughts about race and baseball… thoughts that were printed on the same day that the new Jackie Robinson movie, 42, is being released.

Can’t say I disagree with much, if any, of what J-Roll™ said. Among those things:

AM: Also, it’s a conservative game, isn’t it?

JR: That’s all part of it.  You go see any kid of color, they want to look showtime.  Very seldom do you see a white kid out there getting a little showtime. Just culturally, we’re different, and that’s the way it is.  Music videos. Listen to the type of cars, and what we do to cars. That goes across every race, of course, but a guy gets a Buick Skylark and puts 24-inch rims on it.  And that’s his way of expressing his style.In baseball, your style is actually suppressed a lot. So there are a number of factors.

AM: What could a committee like this accomplish?

JR: You know what has to be done? It’s not the committee, it’s the marketing. You have to market the black players. You have to market those aspects of the game — the glam, things of that nature.  Other than that, it is not going to matter. It really is not going to matter.I mean, for example I won MVP in 2007, and I wasn’t on anybody’s cover. No one’s.  I’m not sure if CC was on a cover, and he was Cy Young.  But I’ll tell you what. Prior and post MVPs or Cy Youngs are always on someone’s cover. Or a commercial.

This isn’t the first time Rollins has said that MLB doesn’t market its black stars well. In 2011, Rollins told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports something similar (and I had many agreeing thoughts on that matter). But this time, he also said that MLB’s inner-city program, RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), is kind of useless, and gave some thoughts on Derek Jeter being more Derek Jeter than black to most fans. Read the full interview here.


39 Responses

  1. So, advertise the glam like rap videos? Like “I can’t afford food for my kids or the electric bill this month, because Lil Wayne had banging rims in his latest video, Imma cop them instead?” I’m confused. Also pretty sure his teammate, Ryan Howard, was on the cover of MLB 08 The Show. Is that what he means by covers? Andrew McCutchen is on The Show cover this year.

    1. He’s talking about magazine covers, not video game covers. Sports video games are marketed to urban youths. Magazines, however, are marketed to older white men. That’s why Howard was on 08 but Chase Utley is perpetually on Philadelphia Magazine. Rollins’ complaint is that the MLB is unable or unwilling to expand who they’re marketing black players to. That league more than the others is the king of playing it safe. I think they see black players on magazines as an unnecessary risk when they have an unlimited supply of popular white players who they know for a fact will sell their magazines.

      1. I mean, he was on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s October issue, just prior to being selected MVP, with the headline title “J’Rollin in Philly: Why Jimmy Rollins is MVP”. WTF more does he want?

        1. Exactly, I created a poster of that cover, just because it’s not everyday that a Phillies player is MVP or on the cover of SI. I hate his “Woe is me” attitude…what else could we expect from someone from Oakland??

    2. Hell we got Jr. Griffey a freaking baseball game, and it sold millions of copies.

      But other than that he does have a few great points. At the same time though, urban kids are choosing basketball instead of baseball because of accessibility. I mean all it costs is $20 for a ball (Even less at five and below) go to your local YMCA and you got a game. Baseball you have to account for equipment, and nowadays roster spots outsourced to Dominicans who will play for cheaper.

  2. i really dont take issue with him saying what he said. everyone is entitled to their opinions and as long as they stand by it, then so be it. however, why should he really care about his race being underrepresented in baseball. if you ask me, i dont see as much as a practice, but rather the choice of a group based on their own interest. its 2013 not 1940.

    1. That’s a great point. If that demographic is not choosing baseball, then who are we to force it on them?

      That being said, Rollins makes some excellent points. And, of course, it would be good for baseball if more blacks were choosing baseball. That’s an untapped market where money could be made for them, which i assume is the reason the committee was made.

  3. Agree and disagree. I think the “Style” that Jimmy is tlaking about is more of a cultural thing. White people spend more money on a classy vehicle, like a BMW or VW with a bit more practical use, and blacks throw oversized and absurd rims on a 10 year old Crown Victoria. Hip Hop culture!

    As racist as it sounds, I think black kids don’t want to play baseball the way they want to play football or basketball because of the amount of time invested into baseball. Basketball Players can go to the NBA after high school or short stints in college and make their money, and the NFL after stints in College. MLB you can come up any time, but the nature of the game is to thoroughly investigate you as a player from single A to make sure youre a good investment for the big leagues. Its why a guy like Dom Brown kept going up and down between the leagues. Hip Hop culture demands instant gratification.

    Baseball also started off as a sport/game that the masses could play and get good at. There’s a small disparity happening with many of the white players coming from upper middle class and upper class families that can pay for them to get the proper coaching for form in batting, and develop their pitching. Cole Hamels is a perfect example of that. His cousin, who comes from money married a Main Line Jew, whose daddy has lots of money.

    The game itself is conservative, because there is not much else you can do differentl what works works, what doesn’t, doesn’t. Like he said its not flashy like in basketball with guys jumping all over the court, or football with bone crushing hits, and memorizing plays. Its chess, not checkers.

    1. I think youre hinting at the right thing, but not fully fleshing the thought out. I don’t think its a work ethic thing. Baseball is the least physically demanding of the sports, and I hardly think Kobe sinking 2000 shots a day is easy work…Part of it might be the instant gratification, but part of it is something to which Rollins kind of alludes to now, but really did so before: That baseball is just more boring… Thats what he means by conservative. Kids see DeSean taking a punt 90 yards to the house, or LeBron doing his alleyoops and then look at baseball and just see a guy swinging a stick and then standing in grass or dirt for most of the game.

  4. Ryan Howard was on the cover of MLB The Show in 2008 I believe and is in a billion Subway adds. I believe Andrew McCutchen is on the current cover, isn’t he? I’m surprised J-Roll didn’t get marketed more during his MVP run. His personality makes him a prime marketing candidate. I don’t think the league discriminates the marketing of its black stars though. It discriminates certain markets. That’s a fact. Boston and New York could finish 3 and 4 in the AL East and they’ll still get the most press and coverage.

    That said, J-Roll is the man, and I can’t wait to see 42.


  5. He’s right about the being on covers thing. And it’s not because the people who market magazines are “racist” it’s because they just don’t choose to market black athletes that way. I suppose their demographics are primarily older white men at this point, and older white men seem to be the types who complain about “non-traditional” baseball players being a bit more flashy and animated (with their remarks on them ranging from the players being “hambones” to the players being “thugs” – which has really just become a socially acceptable euphemism for more racially charged words).

    i know the prevailing sentiment from white people (I am myself white) is usually along the lines of “why do we need to talk about race? why is he bringing it up?” because it’s an uncomfortable topic and they find it easier or more ideal to just bury racial differences by sort of demonizing people for even going there. But to ignore them is to ignore a fundamental part of one’s own identity. Race isn’t a taboo unless you make it a taboo.

  6. Heard from a good source that jimmy was in a miami club late last night & cheating on his wife.

  7. You want to know why we “older grumpy white guys ” would rather not talk about race? Because we’ve been conditioned over the years to try for a color-blind society. Now we’re criticized for not talking about race. It never ends.

  8. Anyone stop to think that they didnt market him because of comments like this? Maybe cc didnt get marketed because ie looks like a slob with his baggy ass uniform that looks more like a stitched poncho? Why does it always have to be race? Oh yeah, because thats what gets him in the news…pathetic.

  9. Black’s aren’t as in to baseball because its a sport where pure physical dominance will not get you instant success. It’s really that simple.

    Look at the sports that blacks tend to flock to… basketball and football, sports where pure physical attributes can literally make you a top pick right out of the gate. You have to have many skills beyond pure strength and speed to make it in the bigs in the MLB.

  10. So the Lilly white privileged nova douche who changed his name and test drives dogs doesn’t agree with Jroll’s point, imagine…

  11. They should make a movie on the first black person who used a turn signal or said thank you when you held the door for them.

    1. They should make a movie on the 1st nfl black punter Reggie Roby from the Miami Dolphins back in the 80s

  12. I don’t mean this from a racist standpoint or way of thinking….but why is it a big deal if MLB markets black players or not, or if more black players are involved from a young age or if more blacks watch the game???? How many whites or hispanics are marketed as the faces of the league today? Kevin Love, maybe Rubio, Lin (Chinese), Ginobilli….who else? The NBA is made mostly of blacks, MLB is mostly whites and hispanics, with hispanics probably going to be the dominant “race” in MLB shortly. Do we begin making a push on how to get more whites playing baseball??? How do we get more whites in NBA?
    Jimmy said it himself, there is not enough glam or showtime with baseball, and I am fine with that. We don’t need the OchoStinko’s and TO’s in baseball, like Valdespin on the Mets the other night gets a triple (while getting blown out), stands up and pounds his chest. That’s the “showtime” shit we need to have in baseball??? I don’t want some guy hitting a three run homer and then putting the three fingers up and a circle around his eye… stupidest shit I’ve ever seen….

    1. I like how pathetic white people use phrases such as “I don’t want to sound racist but” and then say something racist. Hahaha loser.

  13. Is America going to be talking about race and gays for the rest of my life? If so I need to leave. So exhausting.

    1. Ain’t that the truth. It gets so freakin’ over-talked about, it seems like it becomes counterproductive.

  14. Frankly, I don’t don’t give a damn. Until major cities keep baseball fields in good usable order on a large scale, there will be a disparity here. The tax payers in these cities balk at paying more taxes to educate their youth, what do you think they’ll say about baseball fields?

  15. I was pretty shocked when I heard a friend of a friend’s kid goes to a “batting camp.” I mean the kid is a decent player, but probably not good enough to play beyond HS. Yet here was an upper middle class family spending big money, taking a shot at improving junior’s swing. Just one anecdotal example of why perhaps less lower middle class kids from cities are going to be playing baseball. Baseball is second probably to only hockey among the four major sports in the time/money it takes as an investment to get good at it.

    I’m sure Rollins and Howard have played at least a small role in making baseball more popular in the black neighborhoods in Philly. Probably much better than it was in the 90s and early 00’s when the Phillies had largely all-white bad teams every year, or at least not any really good players who were black or latino.

  16. The words “glam” and “style” should never be in any man’s vocabulary. Particularly used in the context of sports. Players who celebrate meaningless 1st downs or triples just end up looking like complete assholes.

    Some people wonder why Chase Utley is so loved in this city (it’s not because of his skin color), it’s because he will do anything to win, and all other personal accomplishments are meaningless without a championship.

    1. I completely agree, baseball and hockey are the only major sports where in large part, that the players aren’t “hey look at me!” 90% of the time. Some of the ridiculous celebrations we get out of football and basketball are stupid as shit… the three fingers and a circle around the eye after a three pointer, or the first down pointing, chest pounding, the pulling of the basketball jersey to show off the number like poppin’ a collar….

    2. Chase truly embodies “Just Do It” … meaning all else is stupid and worthless

  17. Rollins is full of crap.(I think.) I’m 60,but when I was young,I was a rocker dude-which my sister said made me seem more like a 17-year-old sub urban white kid than the 26-year-old black man of 1979,when she made the remark-and am a (sub)urban cowboy today,so I DEFINITELY wasn’t “street.”(Then and now,I’ve got boyish good looks and don’t dress or speak inner city,so in certain circles I’d be a sell-out.)
    That said,MLB is positioned to take advantage of football’s concussion denial and-in the NFL-Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito and the on-going saga of Michael Sam’s admitting his homosexuality and some NFL executives’ seeming reluctance to touch him in the upcoming draft to,should it change some of its own archaic codes,attract
    young African Americans.

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