Are the Red Sox Too White?

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Jason Bay and Dustin Pedroia

The idea that a major league team in this day and age would consider race when putting together its roster seems laughable to me -- it's hard enough to get into the postseason without limiting yourself to only a portion of the talent pool.

Nevertheless, that's a complaint being lobbed in the direction of the Red Sox by the Boston Globe, which based a story around the fact that a handful of Latino fans have noticed that there are fewer players who look like them in prominent roles:

"I've always been a Red Sox fan. That's not going to change. I want to be a Red Sox fan," said Javy Fernandez, a 22-year-old Dominican-American who owns a market in Dorchester. "But I get more excited when I see my people - people of my ethnicity - play on my team. It makes you feel like you're playing on the team also."

Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer insists the front office is "completely colorblind" when making moves, and given the team's track record of playing deep into October, it's hard to doubt him. Even Mike Lowell, one of two Latino players in the regular lineup, doesn't think this is a discussion worth having.

"I really throw race and heritage and background out the window," he said, sitting in front of his locker. "It's hard for everyone to get to this level, and I don't think it's worth getting distracted over 'This team has more Latinos' or 'This team has more African-Americans' or 'This team has more white people.' I think you might be distracting yourself over something that's pretty trivial."

Let me get see if I have this straight: Latino fans have noticed but say they're still going to be fans, the assistant GM denies it's something the front office thinks about and the Cuban third baseman calls the racial makeup of the team trivial.

Would we be having this discussion if it involved any other team? Probably not. The Red Sox have an embarrassing history of discrimination as the last team in the majors to welcome a black player to their roster, but they've come a long way since then. Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez were the face of the franchise for many, many years, and their departures can easily be traced to declining performance. Meanwhile, the team's best starting pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka, hails from Japan, as does their top setup man, Hideki Okajima.

The Red Sox are a diverse team, but more importantly, they're a winning team. There's a time and place for these sorts of questions, but nit-picking a championship-caliber roster isn't one of them.

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