Jerry Remy has officially came out and apologized for his comments made during last nights game against the Yankees. Remy came out during the live broadcast saying major league pitchers should not be allowed to have translators come to the mound. The broadcast was definitely awkward as Dave O’Brien really had nothing to say when Jerry brought it up.
In pretty much any other international job in the world, the employee must be familiar with the primary language of the country they are going to. Professional sports are much different, as players from all over the world come to play baseball in America and never bother to learn any English. Honestly who could blame them? English is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn and they’re not getting paid to talk to the media. However, they’re not being asked to learn a whole language. In fact, some players go on to have long and successful careers without ever learning the language.
Tanaka, now in his fourth year in the States playing for the Yankees, still needs a translator to go out with the pitching coach during mound visits. This isn’t going to be one of those “If you live here speak the language” arguments. However, after four years Tanaka should at least be able to pick up the few words his pitching coach has to tell him. No one asked him to learn the whole english dictionary. A pithing visit lasts less than thirty seconds and usually is the same speech. “Slow it down”, “focus on the zone” and maybe some advice on what is going wrong. This is what Remy was talking about when he said “baseball language.”
This is one of the main issues of baseball. The game is too long and the league is trying to speed it up. Having a full conversation translated on the mound is making a long, boring process even longer. I’m fully on board with eliminating mound visits as a whole. There really shouldn’t be something that important the Yankees needed to tell Tanaka in the early innings of the game.
The problem isn’t just about translators. This is about shortstops, second basemen and sometimes whole infields coming in just to tell a pitcher to settle down. If a pitcher can’t relax without the whole infield holding his hand then he isn’t ready to pitch in the big leagues. This wasn’t about Remy being racist towards a Japanese player. It is the frustration of all baseball fans having to waste our time waiting for three guys to decipher two languages just to tell the pitcher to relax.
Sure, Remy could have worded this better, or picked a different time to say it. Besides the pure waste of time, a translator coming to the mound doesn’t hurt anyone. This is why no one has a problem with translators in the locker room when talking to the media. Rey isn’t mad about Tanaka going out in public speaking a different language. He absolutely has a point that if you are part of an organization you should at least know enough about the language to understand your situation. Most of baseball is sign language anyways. It’s not like the catcher yells out what he wants the pitcher to throw.
The rule itself isn’t horrible either. There are rookies straight from other countries who really haven’t even had chance to learn the language who legitimately need translations. This could have also been part of Remy’s frustration. Tanaka has been in the league for four years, he should know the select few words the Yankees need to tell him on the mound. Mound visits really are not that important.
Jerry Remy shouldn’t have to apologize for saying this. It might have been a stupid time to say it, but he brings up a good point. The game of baseball needs to speed up and this doesn’t help. It is not just translators that shouldn’t be allowed on the mound. It’s any infielder and in my opinion, pitching coaches as well. If the league wants to speed the game up, that’s a good way to start.