MLB has fined and suspended New York’s Josh Donaldson one game for an incident on Saturday involving Chicago’s Tim Anderson that ignited both the Yankees and White Sox benches to clear for a tussle near home plate.
After the game, Anderson told reporters that Donaldson repeatedly called him “Jackie” in reference to Jackie Robinson, a practice that White Sox manager Tony La Russa derided as “racist.”
On Monday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith addressed the weekend controversy and he was not at all thrilled with the words ‘racist and racism’ being attached to Donaldson.
“Here is what upsets me about this,” Smith said. “We are having a conversation about race, and I can’t sit here and tell you that anything Josh Donaldson said was racist. I think it’s actually wrong for people to attach racist, or racism, to Josh Donaldson today.”
Continuing on, Smith added why he was “annoyed” by the situation.
“Here is why I am annoyed by it. We gotta make sure when we make accusations like that that it counts. It’s damn near pretty irrefutable what you are… And then when real, bonafide, undeniable, unequivocal racist behavior is exhibited and put on display, people get to feign denials and all of this other stuff because so many times we’re bringing this up. I’m just saying we gotta be careful.”
Donaldson was assessed a one-game suspension and a monetary fine by Major League Baseball. He is appealing the decision. He admitted to calling Anderson “Jackie” and having done so repeatedly since 2019.
He told reporters on Saturday that he was “just joking around” based on Anderson comparing himself to Robinson in a 2019 interview.
An MLB statement on Monday stated that Donaldson’s intent wasn’t a factor in handing down the suspension, declaring the commentary “disrespectful and in poor judgment.”
“There is no dispute over what was said on the field,” MLB’s statement reads. “Regardless of Mr. Donaldson’s intent, the comment he directed toward Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and in poor judgment, particularly when viewed in the context of their prior interactions.
“In addition, Mr. Donaldson’s remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline.”