Colin Cowherd is making noise on his way out of ESPN. Earlier today, he made comments about the complexity of baseball, saying “Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic.” (partial audio via Deadspin).
Hardball Talk has some further context and surrounding comments for those quotes:
"“It’s too complex? I’ve never bought into that ‘baseball is too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world class academic abilities. A lot of those kids come from rough backgrounds and have not had opportunities academically that other kids from other countries have. Baseball is like any sport. It’s mostly instincts. A sportswriter who covers baseball could go up to Tony La Russa and make an argument and Tony would listen and it would seem reasonable. There’s not a single NFL writer in the country who could diagram a play for Bill Belichick. You know, we get caught up in this whole ‘thinking-man’s game.’ Is it in the same family? Most people could do it. It’s not being a concert pianist. It’s in the same family.”"
Jose Bautista, the star outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays from the Dominican Republic, got wind of those comments and just took to Twitter.
"Dear Mr. @ESPN_Colin before i rip you a new one i would like for you to explain what u meant to say about baseball and dominicans, please — Jose Bautista (@JoeyBats19) July 23, 2015"
Needless to say, there is a lot wrong with those comments from Cowherd. It’s wrong on baseball. Let’s just say every sport probably overstates its complexity, and baseball may be no different here. Within the sport, there are plenty of internal complexities that must be learned over time, though none are “rocket science.”
A sport can be complex in terms of training oneself to repeat activities that aren’t natural or “instinctive” (running a double cut-off, or knowing what bases to cover, or a pitcher and first basemen working on tosses, are things that take time to learn in the heat of the moment, though major leaguers generally have it down because of experience). These things have nothing to do with book smarts or standardized testing.
And then of course, is the specific invoking of the ratio of Dominican players in the league as an example. That thing about Dominicans not having world class academic abilities? Hoo boy.