From The Press Box
Mario Mendoza was born in Chihuahua, México. He is 71 years old, played in the major leagues from 1974 to 1982 for the Pirates, Mariners and Rangers. A real nice man. I interviewed him and covered him when he was a player. He wore wire-rim glasses, was soft spoken, a very decent man, and an excellent defensive shortstop. He ended his career with a .215 batting average. For decades his name continues to be mentioned by broadcasters and quoted by baseball writers when they talk about somebody hitting .200 or below, what is called; “The Mendoza Line”.
Today’s game has dozens of players hitting below the “Mendoza line”. Some of these players are making millions of dollars and hitting .165, but nobody dares to mention the Mendoza line when they step-up to the plate.
Why is this? Is it because the game of baseball has deteriorated to the point that hitting .160 with 19 home runs and 88 runs batted-in are considered “great numbers”? Obviously batting averages are not as important as they were. Imagine telling Ted Williams and Ty Cobb something like that. I know that Rod Carew would take it personally and the great Tony Gwynn would also be offended.
When the name of ex-pitcher Tommy John is mentioned (which is all the time, and the popular surgery that bears his name), it brings memories of Tommy John, the pitcher, who was a good pitcher for many years. When the Mendoza Line is invoked by journalist, print or electronic, it does not sound like it is a “good” thing. But today you can count many players who are hitting below .200 with the majority of teams that have played around 100 games by the All Star break.
In today’s world, were everybody is over sensitive and the word racism is thrown around like baseballs during batting practice, where pronouns are taking over common sense, where somebody who is related to a high profile politician, recently compared Latinos to Tacos, I ask myself is this a case for racism?
Whatever it is, I believe Mario Mendoza deserves an apology.