AJ the joking gamer

DMZ · March 15, 2006 at 12:18 pm · Filed Under General baseball 

From ESPN: in a long article about AJ Pierzynski, who, it turns out, is just misunderstood:

Two hours earlier, the same man stands behind home plate during a team workout. A ball just dropped in front of outfielder Jermaine Dye, and the catcher won’t let his friend hear the end of it. “Don’t you know how to run?” he yells to Dye. “We run here.”

Dye mumbles his rebuttal, but the catcher has one of his own. “What’s that Jermaine? I’m sorry — we don’t speak Ebonics,” he says jokingly. “I can’t understand you.”

How, exactly, is it a joke to say that to a black teammate?


41 Responses to “AJ the joking gamer”

  1. joser on March 15th, 2006 12:23 pm

    Well, pretty much everybody in baseball knows by now what the A in AJ stands for, right?

  2. bpdawg24 on March 15th, 2006 12:23 pm

    Does the article then go on to chronicle the surgical procedure that was necessary to remove Jermaine’s left cleat from AJ’s prostate?

    This guy is a horse’s-ass if I’ve ever seen one. We can only hope Carl left any traces of Pierzynski in Chi-town.

  3. davepaisley on March 15th, 2006 12:31 pm

    There’s a typo in that article title.

    Surely it should be “Bottom Line: AJ’s a gomer”…

  4. JMB on March 15th, 2006 12:39 pm

    Ebonics? I thought those jokes died at least five years ago. At least.

  5. Ed on March 15th, 2006 12:46 pm

    I like how the writer says “‘We don’t speak Ebonics,’ he says jokingly.” As if that suddenly does make it a joke instead of badly dated racism.

  6. Mat on March 15th, 2006 1:02 pm

    “A ball just dropped in front of outfielder Jermaine Dye, and the catcher won’t let his friend hear the end of it.” (Emphasis mine.)

    I think it’s more appropriate to ask the question, “how is it a joke to say that to your black friend?” Certainly, without knowing anything about their specific relationship, the null hypothesis is that this comment was offensive and not a joke, especially considering that Pierzynski isn’t universally loved.

    However, we run into the same problem here that we run into every time we try to venture into the realm of character judgement — we don’t have enough information. Maybe there’s a long-standing joke between Pierzynski and Dye about Ebonics. Is it likely? I don’t know. It’s certainly possible, though.

    If you put a bunch of guys on a job together, forcing them to spend a lot of time together, they’re going to form weird relationships, and there are definitely going to be inside jokes that wouldn’t sound funny to anyone who hasn’t spent 8 hours a day with that group of people, and there are probably going to be some inside jokes that sound flat-out offensive.

    So while this certainly sounds offensive in an article about Pierzynski, I don’t think we can necessarily draw the conclusion that Dye wouldn’t have thought this was a joke. Probably, sure, necessarily, no. (BTW, love the new comment submission button.)

  7. Mat on March 15th, 2006 1:10 pm

    “We can only hope Carl left any traces of Pierzynski in Chi-town.”

    You mean, any traces of talent? Some guys are worth the headache, some guys aren’t. If we’re going to talk about how Everett’s character might relate to Pierzynski’s character, we should probably also mention how their performances compare.

    The Giants, I am sure, knew about A.J.’s character issues. But, they traded for a 27-year old catcher who had done this prior to his arrival in San Fran:

    Age 24 – 4.0 WARP3
    Age 25 – 5.9 WARP3
    Age 26 – 8.1 WARP3

    The 8-win season turned out to be the exception, and not the rule, but in the last two seasons, Pierzynski’s put up a 4-win season and a 5-win season. The last time Carl Everett had a 4-win or better season was 2000 with Boston.

  8. DMZ on March 15th, 2006 1:11 pm

    While certainly possible, what are the chances that a black player’s going to think that someone mocking his speech as “Ebonics” is funny… 1%? 0%?

    Especially the “we” thing. It’s uncomfortable.

  9. Dave in Palo Alto on March 15th, 2006 1:22 pm

    Lessee, when AJ worked in these parts, he was called out, by name, by Giant pitchers as someone they didn’t want to pitch to anymore, and once coldcocked [memo to self: reconsider choice of words] the team trainer in the tenders to demonstrate how he, AJ, was feeling at the moment. Yes, a highly developed, near-Pythonesque sense of humor.

  10. Evan on March 15th, 2006 1:34 pm

    I actually think AJ was funny there, largely because he was using such badly dated racism. It’s a TERRIBLE joke, and there’s humour in that.

    It’s takes real skill to make a joke that bad.

  11. kenshin on March 15th, 2006 1:40 pm

    I think Dye should consider himself lucky that A.J. did not knee him in the balls. I will never forgive AJ for being an A@*-hat, the prize acquizition in a devestating trade for my team, and for being such a mediocre player that the Giants released him outright the following season.

  12. Mat on March 15th, 2006 1:51 pm

    “While certainly possible, what are the chances that a black player’s going to think that someone mocking his speech as “Ebonics” is funny… 1%? 0%?”

    You asked this question: “How, exactly, is it a joke to say that to a black teammate?” I gave you a scenario under which it’s possible that it was considered a joke.

    Also, outside of San Fransisco, there seems to be a lot of evidence that while Pierzynski doesn’t get along with opposinig players, he gets along with his teammates just fine. Aaron Rowand, in the article, goes so far as to say that he was a jack-ass to the players on other teams, “but when he’s on your team, that’s a completely different picture.”

    Ever since Pierzynski had one highly publicized clubhouse run-in in San Fransisco, it’s been fashionable to rag on Pierzynski. This is the first thing I’ve seen him quoted saying that could be construed as really offensive to a current teammate, so I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt because I don’t know him and I’m not familiar with his relationship with Dye.

  13. Karen on March 15th, 2006 2:25 pm

    After all, the worst stories about AJ Pierzynski came out of the clubhouse pretty much run by Barry Bonds, didn’t they? You have to consider the sources there.

    I don’t think the writer of that article was off base when he described the “walking on eggshells” atmosphere in the Giants’ lockerroom, nor do I think the stories about Brett Tomko — who’s been a jackass since he was with Cincinnati, and who’s now with his SIXTH team in 10 years — were very far off base.

    Yeah, the Ebonics joke was in bad taste. I’ve known a few baseball players, and they can be pretty gross in behavior and conversation, usually when they’re in uniform, but sometimes off the field too. They can also be courteous, gentle, and kind. That article shows both sides of Pierzynski. Why is everybody so willing to condemn?

  14. Dave in Palo Alto on March 15th, 2006 2:36 pm

    I don’t really get the Bonds angle here. I don’t think there is one.

  15. Smegmalicious on March 15th, 2006 2:41 pm

    I suck at html. I meant as bad as this lady: http://tinyurl.com/kb9gx

    Ah…local Seattle area news.

  16. Evan on March 15th, 2006 2:47 pm

    She was arguing for a competitive school system. That’s hardly an extreme view.

  17. Mr. Egaas on March 15th, 2006 3:01 pm

    I’m sure Carl Everett has said worse.

  18. dan@jackson on March 15th, 2006 3:02 pm

    That may be one of the things she’s arguing about. She also has this to say:

    The pony hidden in slavery is the fact that it was the ticket to America for black people. I have long urged blacks to consider their presence here as the work of God, who wanted to bring them to this raw, new country and used slavery to achieve it. A harsh life, to be sure, but many immigrants suffered hardships and indignations as indentured servants. Their descendants rose above it. You don’t hear them bemoaning their forebears’ life the way some blacks can’t rise above the fact theirs were slaves.

    Now there is an extreme view. And Smeg is right. Whatever kind of jerk A.J. is, he’s not this bad.

  19. Smegmalicious on March 15th, 2006 3:08 pm

    I’m also curious what exactly “top-drawer blacks” means.

  20. Ralph Malph on March 15th, 2006 3:20 pm

    So, to get back to the topic of this thread, would you say A.J. is a “bottom-drawer white”?

    That column is a pile of manure, but there is a pony hidden in it as well.

  21. MedicineHat on March 15th, 2006 3:20 pm

    This is hyper-sensativeism at its finest. Is AJ an a$$, sure. But come on. Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who has been around a locker room knows there are ways guys one teams and in locker rooms talk to each other that would not be acceptable in public. The fact this “journalist” wrote this garbage is more telling to me. Stick to the game story.

  22. Karen on March 15th, 2006 3:30 pm

    For Dave in Palo Alto, re: “the Bonds angle”… The article mentioned AJP saying there wasn’t a lot of camaraderie in the Giants clubhouse, with everybody subduing their own personalities in reaction to the personalities of Bonds and Felipe Alou (at least that’s how I interpreted the paragraph).

    I was over at another board, and read something similar to my remark above, about a completely different subject (celebrating a HR, a slam dunk, a 80 yd TD run, etc.): “These guys (baseball players, footballers, basketball players) have been plying their trade for their entire life. They’ve been doing it so much, that few here could even have the slightest comprehension as to what competition feels like to them now. After years and years of playing (insert sport here), do you really think a little bragging matters much to those guys? Sure, some tend to go off about it; but if you don’t have the cajones to handle a little ribbing, then you don’t belong in the bigs.”

    Yeah. What I said… 😉

  23. Evan on March 15th, 2006 3:41 pm

    I really want to respond to dan@jackson, but I know I can’t do it here.

    But if he were kind enough to send a note to llewdor at gmail, we might be able to discuss the issue further.

  24. DMZ on March 15th, 2006 3:46 pm

    I got a baaaaaaaaaad feeling about this thread.

  25. eponymous coward on March 15th, 2006 3:49 pm

    Funny how someone who’s clearly an ass wasn’t able to destroy team chemistry enough to prevent Chicago from winning a World Championship. Maybe it’s because of Carl Everett. Yeah, that’s it…

    Sheesh. Can we PLEASE put the canard of “clubhouse chemistry and intangibles are the missing ingredients that make for winning teams” in the rubbish heap where it belongs now? Because, really it just ain’t so.

  26. Smegmalicious on March 15th, 2006 3:49 pm

    Oh god, what have I done. I’m sorry Derek. I just thought I was posting some semi-related backwoods racism cloyingly disguised as compassion not opening a bigger can of worms.

  27. DMZ on March 15th, 2006 3:53 pm

    That’s not so much it, though I’ll say that I read that article with an increasing amazing sense of horror and awe. At several points I checked to make sure that wasn’t some kind of hoax site, or otherwise set up.

  28. T-dawg on March 15th, 2006 4:04 pm

    okay, I haven’t read the articles yet, but I would wish to suppose a situation in which the ebonics comment could be construed as humor and not blind racism… not that i would ever be a part of such commentary, but being around sports teams for years as a player and coach i have heard plenty of things in which context is key…

    for instance, what if there is a running joke in the clubhouse about AJ being a redneck cracka and jermaine dye being a key contributer to the discussion… then this comment may not be so contextually damning, but instead is part of a long standing joke, and a comeback. Perhaps it is to us and the rest of the world a long standing tired, dull and ignorant conversation, but that isn’t the point… point is there is no reason through this ALONE to paint AJ as an assclown.

    now, in all truth there seems more than enough evidence to portray him as such due to all the other things we’ve heard, but then again, i’ve never met the man nor have i spoken to any of his teammates or former teammates personally since Jason Schmidt used to shoot jumpers with me in the L.C.C. gym. So what do i, you or anybody know aside from what we have heard from other people?

    just a thought.

  29. Ed on March 15th, 2006 4:07 pm

    I guess AJ could be referencing an inside joke, or just engaging in clubhouse sailor talk. The writer really should have put AJ and Dye’s relationship in context then, or just chosen a different joke (or “joke”) to show what a lovable clown he really is, not one so racially loaded. As it’s presented there, he really doesn’t come off well.

    So while I’m pretty sure AJ’s a jerk, I’d say sloppy writing’s the true culprit here.

  30. T-dawg on March 15th, 2006 4:14 pm

    wow.. that lady’s article is so off topic from the comment button’s “I wish to add my light to the glowing firmament of discussion” that i will avoid commentating further.

  31. Dave in Palo Alto on March 15th, 2006 5:10 pm

    Karen, I saw the Bonds reference in the ESPN article. I just don’t get how it explains anything about Pierzynski. The fact that so many of his former teammates go out of the way to comment on his character suggests to me that his style of humor is uniquely unappreciated.

    That said, I agree that AJ was not quoted as saying, “Hey Jermaine, aren’t you grateful that God made your ancestors slaves?”

  32. mln on March 15th, 2006 5:50 pm

    It’s ironic that Pierzynski seems to enjoy racial/ethnic humor, given that he is of Polish descent, a nationality that has long been the butt of ethnic jokes in the US.

    Wonder if AJ would similarly enjoy a few back-slapping Polack jokes in the clubhouse?

  33. Typical Idiot Fan on March 15th, 2006 7:29 pm

    I’d say sloppy writing’s the true culprit here.

    Oh? You don’t think the journalist wrote exactly what he wanted to?

  34. hub on March 16th, 2006 3:26 am

    Reminds me of the time I unwittingly offered sunscreen to a team-mate of mine in my city softball league. As a black guy, he took it quite offensively when I stated (in the middle of a long tourney on a hot summer day), “You look sun-burnt…want to use this?” I wasn’t joking…was just trying to be nice to a guy whose face was starting to peel. It was taken personally, and led to me having to leave the team because of my ‘racism’.

  35. adamt on March 16th, 2006 8:31 am

    Re: 34

    Poor hub, if you had only informed them that a knowledgeable skin care specialist would advise everyone, of every race, to wear sun screen daily… even when cloudy… perhaps you’d still be on the team.

  36. terry on March 16th, 2006 9:02 am

    Im sure that Jermaine is comforted by the fact we are all outraged on his behalf. If AJ felt comfortable enough to yell that in front of his whole team, im pretty sure they as a group dont view him as a racist and interpret AJ’s comments with charity with that premise in mind.

    We get the luxury of throwing charity out the window and simply interpreting the line without any context whatsoever.

    Im surprised this is a thread on USSM.

  37. colm on March 16th, 2006 10:24 am

    It’s all about context. I can imagine that Dye and AJ are friendly and such talk is just teammate banter. Peirzynski is crass to yell it in public, but I doubt if he’s so crass as to make such a comment to a teammate to whom he’s not close. Otherwise he would be looking at a beating.

    Some friends of mine rib me for my distinctive pattern of speech (see http://www.speaknorniron.8m.net/common.htm ) and it doesn’t trouble my in the slightest.

    But when my knuckle-dragging ignoramus of a neighbour tells me to “F**k of back to Canada” (he’s not good with accents) I want to kick him in the throat.

  38. Paul B on March 16th, 2006 12:31 pm

    It might be teammate banter, I recall the stuff described in “Ball Four”, like where one ballplayer would sing a song about anothers mother… Or would do something really gross just to get a reaction.

    Then again, it might be coming from a jerk.

    I have my own story, years ago I was having a discussion with my manager (a person of color) who was taking something way too seriously (in my opinion) so I said “lighten up”. My manager had never heard that phrase before and took it to mean I was suggesting his behaviour should be modified to act like a white person. I had to do some explaining on the origin and common meaning of the phrase to smooth things over (he was a person I genuinely liked).

  39. Evan on March 16th, 2006 2:01 pm

    I saw that URL and I took you for a Norn speaker. You don’t see a lot of baseball fans from the Faroe Islands.

    Your neighbour may have had some experiences in rural Newfoundland.

  40. EG on March 16th, 2006 8:36 pm

    [deleted so as not to disappoint you]

  41. colm on March 17th, 2006 12:04 am


    I think the Faroes are still celebrating beating Austria in a World Cup soccer qualifier in, when was it? 1988?

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