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Lay Off Keith Hernandez, Thought Police

Mike SteffanosMonday, April 24, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Another day, another silly controversy. Now the Thought Police are after Keith Hernandez for questioning what a woman was doing in the Padres dugout. It started out as a valid point in that MLB rules state that only a trainer and assistant trainer can be in the dugout, and she was neither. But then Keith made the comment, "I won't say women belong in the kitchen. But they don't belong in the dugout."

It was a sexist statement, and reflected a somewhat old-fashioned attitude towards women in the game. The problem is now that there are some that would see Keith fired for making that statement. I'm sure the switchboard of SNY is lighting up right now with indignant callers, incensed that the color man on a baseball game felt that women didn't belong in the dugout. Oh, the horror! How will the women's movement recover from this setback?

In the Daily News, Bob Raissman quotes Kelly Calabrese, the team's massage therapist who Keith's statement was directed towards:

It amazes me that somebody of that caliber that has obviously played the game before and is in front of an audience of millions of people would say something like that. It's a little shocking, but you know what - it happens. He not only discredited me as a person, but he discredited women.

Okay, let me get this straight, because one 50-something former baseball player doesn't think women belong in the dugout, that somehow discredits women? So, if I can understand this correctly, anytime someone has an opinion I don't like, I can accuse him of some sort of blanket sin against a whole group?

Look, if Keith Hernandez was the head of a program that provided services to women, his statements would probably rightfully call into question his ability to do his job. As an analyst of baseball games -- not so much. Lisa, my partner of 12 years, who has a Master's Degree and an important job as coordinator of an AIDS program, heard Keith's comments and just laughed. She didn't agree with him, but she didn't feel threatened by what he said, either.

As a man of Italian descent, I am constantly bombarded by negative stereotypes in the media, where every Italian-American male is in the mafia, or is stupid, a womanizer, some sort of low-life slob, or all of the above. I deal with these stereotypes, because no laws were broken by the people that bring forth this garbage. (When I have to listen to some stupid, white-bread Mayflower descendent try to sound like Tony Soprano -- that really should be against the law, but that's another matter.) Well guess what, no laws were broken by Keith Hernandez, either.

It's entertainment, folks. Keith was made to apologize, let's just end this here. There is a difference between something that you don't agree with and don't like to hear and something that crosses the line into an offense against a segment of humanity. We all talk about tolerance, but that sometimes entails having a sense of humor and tolerating the rights of others to express views you don't agree with. And by the way, he was right on one point. Under the rules of baseball, as someone who was neither a trainer or assistant trainer, she really didn't belong in the dugout.

Bergen Record: Learn from the bad
Steve Popper quotes Victor Zambrano on his performance yesterday:

Pretty much the same. I'm not frustrated. It's a lot of things I can learn from the bad things. I'm very confident. I'm ready for the next game. It's a long season.

I've seen him attacked in print today for making this statement. Honestly, what do you want him to say? If he didn't feel that way, it probably would be Lima time already.

Mets Geek: A new Jose
Eric Simon has a revealing analysis of Jose Reyes' improved approach at the plate despite his current slump.

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Comments (10)

MLB rules state that only a trainer and assistant trainer can be in the dugout

Mike, please check out the rules yourself here.

No where does it say that only a trainer and assistant trainer can be in the dugout. If that's what Keith said (and I didn't see Sunday's game so I didn't hear it myself) then he was misinformed. His point was not valid to begin with.

Should he be fired? No. He's just a broadcaster. But his comment was nonetheless wrong.

"Fastball", I appreciate the rule clarification, but the point is moot. I'm not arguing Keith's remark wasn't sexist -- I'm saying that it's wrong to go crazy on him over it. What he said was silly -- the absolute over-the-top overreaction to what he said is every bit as silly. Calls for him to be fired are irresponsible and every bit as ignorant as what he said. Maybe even more ignorant -- because the calls to fire Hernandez are being made by those who think of themselves as enlightened.

Mike, I agree that the rule is almost irrelevant -- except that I've seen on a few message boards many fans erroneously using Keith's incorrect interpretation of the rule to defend him. If it's irrelevant, why are so many bringing it up? Interestingly, I've not seen a single media report repeating Keith's rule interpretation, probably because they can't find any verification of it (because it doesn't exist). As for calling for Keith's firing, we both agree that is ridiculous. But is there really an outcry for his firing? I haven't seen one established media outlet call for it. I've only seen one or two fans mention it (on metsblog). And these fans are outnumbered by the fans regurgitating the erroneous rule interpretation.

I wasn't using the rule to defend him. The crux of my arguement was everything that preceeded that in the last paragraph. Having an unpopular opinion is not a punishable offense. I found the trainer's statement silly:

He not only discredited me as a person, but he discredited women.

Our society wants to make molehills into mountains all the time, and this is one of them.

Mike, can I ask you why you brought up the rule then? What was your point in bringing it up?

As for the trainer's comment, I fully agree with her, as did most analysts I've read. He basically insulted a whole class of people by saying that women don't belong in the dugout. The comment Gary Cohen made during the broadcast about Mex getting in trouble for that would seem to support that view too.

I agree that society wants to make molehills into mountains, but isn't your piece contributing to that by ratcheting up the volume? After all, it was just a few fans who called for his ouster. There really hasn't been a big call for it.

Keith was out of line, same as if he said African Americans don't belong in the dugout. While he has the right to speak his mind, there is inevitable fallout, and that is being inevitably voiced. He used a lot of street talk in his rant that diminshed his professionalism, and overall, he's lost my respect. I hate to hear him in the booth now, I think he's an idiot who speaks before he thinks. He is a sexist and that's his right, but I cannot respect someone as a professional whose shown zero class or professionalism in his handling of this matter. Even in his apology, he's only made things worse via his lack of sincereity and desire to deflect the issue to whether she has a technical right to be in the dugout, or not. The issue for him never was whether a massage therapist has the right to be in the dugout, but rather that no female belongs in the dugout, period. How repulsive he is to me in his beliefs.

More on my point that Mex's comment was derogatory to a whole class of people ...

This is what John Donavan wrote for his blurb on the Mets in his latest power rankings on SI.com:

Keith Hernandez, TV commentator, spotting Padres trainer Kelly Calabrese in the dugout, says, "Who is the girl in the Padres' dugout?" Later he adds, "I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout." He claimed he was joking -- ha! -- so we say "Who's the dope in the booth?" Just joking, you know?

Does he talk about Zambrano, the team's glaring weakness? No. Pedro and Glavine who have been brilliantly fronting the rotation? No. He focuses on Keith's friggin' comments, and it's clear what he thinks of them.

It's one thing to agree with Keith's comments, which some fans obviously do. And that is their right. It's entirely another matter to deny that the comments themselves were insulting to a large portion of the population.

Why is it derogatory to women because one man doesn't think they belong in the dugout? It his honestly held belief, coming from the culture that he grew up in. Is it such a crime today to just be wrong? People are so afraid to say anything today. My point is that people can no longer disagree without making a huge deal of it. You got hung up on my smartass remark about the rule, and ignored everything else I wrote. If I'm "ratcheting up the volume", it's because I believe in this that I wrote that you have ignored and glossed over in all of your comments:

There is a difference between something that you don't agree with and don't like to hear and something that crosses the line into an offense against a segment of humanity. We all talk about tolerance, but that sometimes entails having a sense of humor and tolerating the rights of others to express views you don't agree with.

I'm sorry -- that wasn't clear enough??? I wasn't defending what Keith said, it's just that tolerance is a two-way street that allows someone to say something that someone else doesn't like.

Wait, wait, wait. One more thing. According to you, I can't hold the belief that a man saying that women don't belong in the dugout is not a major insult to women as a whole and you attack my right to say that? Thanks for sharing your tolerance with me.

People need to grow up and not be so damn crazy about this. Lets judge Keith on the quality of his annoncing which is very good. I hear stuff every day that can be taken the wrong way by both men and women. Yet I always take anything as far as opinions with a grain of salt.

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