There’s no major league baseball without immigrants
Boston Red Sox's Mitch Moreland, right, celebrates with Eduardo Nunez (36) at a game against the Oakland Athletics, April 20, in Oakland, Calif. Without immigrant players like the Dominican-born Nunez, many MLB teams would have big holes in their rosters. | Ben Margot / AP

For days, the American public has witnessed migrant families viciously torn apart. We have heard children crying out for their fathers and mothers, detained for the misdemeanor crime of crossing the border without papers, while U.S. Border Patrol agents laugh and joke as if it was just another nine-to-five day.

One of those agents, ignoring the heart-wrenching cries of children all around him, was recorded going so far as to say, “Well, we have an orchestra here…What’s missing is a conductor.”

In Washington D.C.—“the most wretched hive of scum and villainy”—we have used-car salesmen politicians from the GOP exploiting these innocent lives as their own political bargaining chips.

And the Grand Poobah of this hellish nightmare—this law and order circus—keeps passing blame.

“I hate the children being taken away. Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law,” said Trump on June 15 in remarks to the Washington press corps.

That was then.

Yesterday, he signed an executive order ostensibly allowing families to be detained together, but it doesn’t end the administration’s “zero tolerance policy.”

“We have to be very strong on the border, but at the same time we want to be very compassionate,” Trump said at the White House during a meeting with lawmakers that was opened to the media. “I’ll be doing something that’s somewhat preemptive and ultimately will be matched by legislation, I’m sure.”

Honesty, sincerity, and compassion are words I do not equate with Donald Trump, nor do I believe his latest action will amount to much—just more political ammunition with far worse consequences yet to occur.

As we stare down the barrel of morality, while others use any means to justify this act of racist internment, we often go about our daily routines wearing conveniently placed blinders.

Since this is a sports column, I would like to ask all sports fans one simple question: Are you okay with what is going on in our southern border?

If your answer is “No,” I ask that you call your team(s)’ front office to see where they stand on this issue, followed by your state reps, governor, and members of Congress.

If your answer is “Yes,” then all I can say is: “How dare you call yourself a sports fan?”

If you’re planning on watching an MLB game tonight, don’t. Instead take off your jersey and throw it in a cage.

Don’t tune in to watch the FIFA World Cup. The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team didn’t make the cut this year, and by supporting the Trump administration’s immigration policy, you’ve made it clear you have no desire to be a part of the global community that futbol represents.

A year ago, this sportswriter penned a column against Trump’s promise to “build a wall” and have “Mexico pay for it.” And I am ashamed to have to do so again…

If you were excited about baseball’s 2018 opening day—the smell of cheap beer, hot dogs, new leather ball gloves, and fresh cut grass—you should know that America’s favorite pastime is kept going in with players born outside the U.S.

A total of 254 players out of 877 this year (750 active 25-man roster players and 127 disabled, suspended, restricted, or paternity leave MLB players) represents an all-time record 21 different countries and territories outside the United States.

That’s 29 percent.

This year ties last year in percentage and beats the 2017 record of 19 countries represented in the major leagues—that’s something we should be proud of.

Here’s the list of countries: Aruba, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea, U.S. Virgin Islands, Venezuela, Brazil, Panama, South Africa, Taiwan, and Netherlands.

The Texas Rangers, for the second year, have the most foreign-born players, with a total of 14 on a roster that spans five different countries and territories outside the U.S. Texas is followed by the Chicago White Sox (13), Miami Marlins (12), Minnesota Twins (11), Philadelphia Phillies (11) and Toronto Blue Jays (11). The Los Angeles Dodgers have players from eight different countries and territories outside the U.S., marking the most in the Majors. They are followed by the Atlanta Braves (7), Marlins (7), and Seattle Mariners (7).

Toronto Blue Jay Gift Ngoepe, a native of Pietersburg, South Africa, is not only the first South African-born player but the first from anywhere on the African continent, to make an opening day roster.

If you take a moment to look closely at that list, you’ll see a number of countries whose children now live behind detention block walls…never knowing what new emotional torture tomorrow will bring.

Think about those kids when you hear Spanish ballplayers’ names come over the PA.

They may have had major league dreams, too—shattered by our ignorance, xenophobia, and unfounded national pride.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.