Racism and Cecil Cooper

Apparently I'm a racist. I didn't know I was racist, but it seems that because I think Cecil Cooper is an idiot I'm a racist. At least that what's Jose de Jesus Ortiz blogs over at Chron.com. But here's the catch, Ortiz is responding to people accusing him of being racist because he's been criticizing Cooper. So if Ortiz is racist, then I'm definitely a racist because I definitely think Cooper is in over his head as a major league baseball manager.

The logic, it seems, is that since Cooper is an African-American, then anyone who questions his decision-making abilities is racist. But see, here's the thing. The last Astros manager that I didn't criticize was Larry Dierker. At one point, the Press had ads of me screaming that Phil Garner should be fired. And I think Garner was just as bad as Cooper. So I don't think that makes me racist.

I think it makes me someone who demands a manager who knows what he's doing.

I want a manager who fills out his lineup card correctly. I want a manager who is more concerned with what is about to happen in his upcoming game than he is with finding out who won the Houston Texans home run hitting contest. It's one thing for Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays to screw up his lineup and leave himself with no DH because at least Maddon has managed a team to the World Series, but it's another for Cecil Cooper to screw up after going on Charlie Pallilo and telling everybody listening that he was changing the batting order, and then telling the players he was changing the batting order, and then writing down the wrong order on the lineup card and having no one but the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers notice the mistake and costing the team an out.

I'm willing to give Joe Maddon a pass, and not Cecil Cooper, on this matter because Maddon didn't sit on his ass in the dugout hiding with his bench coach while Michael Bourn went into an on-field meltdown because he thought he had screwed up. And I might be willing to give Cooper a pass if he would have got off of his ass and went out to explain the mistake to Bourn instead of leaving it up to Geoff Blum to come out of the dugout and calm him down.

I'm not a racist because I think a manager who is being openly mocked by his players should be fired. I'm not a racist because I think a manager who continues to pitch guys who are hurt, and who he knows are hurt, because they want to pitch.

I'm not a racist because I criticize Cooper. What I am is a baseball fan.

It's not Cecil Cooper's fault that this is a bad team with aging players and little talent. But a good manager puts his team in the best position to win that night's game if his players perform. I don't like Tony La Russa, but the St. Louis Cardinals consistently outperform their talent because La Russa puts his players in a position to win if they perform properly. And Cecil Cooper does not do this, just as Phil Garner did not do this, and just as Jimy Williams did not do this. So if I'm a racist for criticizing Cooper, then I must be a guy who hates people with mustaches (Garner) and people who spell their name funny (Jimy Williams).

And one further thing. As readers here know, I've had my problems with Ortiz and his writings. But damn it, the one thing that guy's not is a racist. Ortiz has consistently nailed Astros management for their good old boy attitude, and he has specifically gone after them in the past for passing up minority players from the Houston area in the draft and in free agency while continuously giving dead-enders like Brandon Backe chance after chance after chance because they're from the area. I've got no problem if you criticize Ortiz, but damn it, make sure you know what you talk about when you're criticizing him. And damn it; stop forcing me to defend the guy. I really hate that.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal