On several occasions, Jonah Keri, who is writing a book about the Rays, has suggested that our perception of certain players is influenced by race (e.g. BJ Upton). The suggestion is that we are overly critical of Upton (and other players) because he is black.
This got us wondering…What if Carl Crawford wasn’t a 5’7″ white dude like David Eckstein?
Would we still appreciate that he always hustles? Would we still notice that he never takes a play off? Would we still root for him if he was flashier and didn’t play hard everyday? Would we still praise him for spending his off-seasons working his ass off so that he could maximize his potential and improve his offensive production every year? Would we still notice that he completely transformed his defense and became one of the the best outfielders in baseball? And would we be surprised to learn that he never goes out and parties during the season?
Would we still care about any of these things?
And how would we analyze his actions on the baseball field? Would we nitpick his performance everyday the same way we do with Upton if Crawford wasn’t white? According to some, we would.
But most importantly, would Rays fans still love Crawford if he were black?
*Alternate Title: Would Rays Fans Still Be Critical Of James Shields If He Didn’t Have An Afro?