By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, we take a look at some serious issues related to several athletes making news for unfortunate reasons.
Mariners CEO resigns
President and CEO of the Seattle Mariners, Kevin Mathers, resigned on Feb. 22 after a video surfaced of him expressing his views of the club’s organizational strategy and making insensitive remarks about players during a recent online event.
Mather’s most inflammatory comments were references to top prospect Julio Rodriguez and former star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, and their grasp of English.
Mather said Rodriguez, a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic, didn’t have “tremendous” English. Mather also complained about the cost associated with having an interpreter for Iwakuma, a former All-Star who pitched a no-hitter for the Mariners and is a current special assistant for the club.
“Wonderful human being—his English was terrible. He wanted to get back into the game, he came to us, we quite frankly want him as our Asian scout/interpreter, what’s going on with the Japanese league. He’s coming to spring training,” Mather said. “And I’m going to say, I’m tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma ‘X,’ but we’d also have to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that.”
Mariners Chairman John Stanton announced the decision and said Mather resigned before a decision had to be made whether he’d be fired.
But the choice seemed predetermined as the firestorm over Mather’s comments raged since they were first posted to Twitter on Feb. 21—which is how Stanton first learned of its existence. There’s been no determination whether Mather will receive a severance or what will happen to his small ownership stake in the franchise.
Jeremy Lin reportedly called “coronavirus” during game
COVID-19 has affected the world in many ways and due to the fact that the previous U.S. president made it a talking point to blame the coronavirus on China, it has resulted in an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans. The terrible news that many elderly Asian citizens are being attacked is drawing support from the community. Jeremy Lin decided to speak out about violence against Asian Americans in a Facebook post recently.
In the post, he wrote, “We are tired of Asian American kids growing up and being asked where they’re REALLY from, of having our eyes mocked, of being objectified as exotic or being told we’re inherently unattractive.” He went on to write, “Being a 9 year NBA veteran doesn’t protect me from being called ‘coronavirus’ on the court.”
This news prompted the NBA to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident. Lin currently plays for the Golden State Warriors’ G-League team. He stated that he won’t shame anyone by naming the individual(s) that called him this. But it provided awareness that even though Lin is an NBA veteran with a list of accolades on and off the court, he can be reduced to a name just because of how he looks.
Lin, who went to Harvard, stated that he received a lot of racial taunts while playing at away games in the Ivy League. He noted that one of his coaches on the team, who was Black, talked to him about dealing with hearing racial taunts. It shows that the racial divide is real and cuts even to the perceived highest levels of intelligence.
Michelle Wie West responds to comments from Rudy Giuliani
Former women’s LGPA golfer and now golf analyst Michelle Wie West responded to inappropriate comments made by former New York Mayor and lawyer to Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani. The comments were made on a podcast as he reminisced about Rush Limbaugh when he passed away. Giuliani told a story about being trailed by the media on a golf course during a celebrity tournament with Limbaugh and Wie West was in front of them.
“Now Michelle Wie is gorgeous. She’s 6 feet. And she has a strange putting stance. She bends all the way over. And her panties show. And the press was going crazy…I said, ‘[Rush], it’s not me, it’s not you.”
Wie West responded to Giuliani’s comments on Twitter without referring to Giuliani by name. “What this person should have remembered from that day was the fact that I shot 64 and beat every male golfer in the field leading our team to victory. I shudder thinking he was smiling to my face and complimenting my game while objectifying me and referencing my ‘panties’ behind my back all day.”
The LGPA responded in support of Wie West by stating on social media that she won 5 LPGA tournaments, a major tournament champion, and is a Stanford graduate and working mother. Without saying it outright, the LGPA stated that Wie West should be seen as more than a woman to ‘gawk’ at based on her looks and body.
Unfortunately, people like Giuliani and Limbaugh, before he died, objectified women based on their looks. Their only respect for women came if they believed that they were attractive.
The good news is that Wie West spoke out about this rather than staying silent.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.