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Media Report

Toronto Star slams Blue Jays GM--team "too white"

by Arthur Weinreb

July 7, 2003

On the front page of the June 28 edition of the Saturday Star, there were pictures of the opening day roster of the Toronto Blue Jays, under the headline of "The White Jays?" According to Canada’s largest circulation daily, there are less black and Latin American players on the Jays than there were a few years ago. The now infamous Star article points out that the team was last in the major leagues in terms of the number of non-white players in their opening day roster. Outrageous! Shameful! The team, according to the Star, should reflect the multicultural make up of the City of Toronto.

Fresh from having the libel suit that was brought against them by the Toronto Police Association tossed out on the grounds that group libel is not actionable, the Star wasted little time before going after the baseball club. The paper ties in the alleged lack of diversity with the hiring of J.P. Ricciardi, who became the club’s general manager in November, 2001. According to the Star, the acquisitions that Ricciardi has made since becoming GM have been 92% white and according to the Toronto Star’s reporter, Geoff Baker, "[T]hose moves have seriously altered the makeup of the Jays, who had 11 visible-minority players on the opening-day roster the past 3 seasons and at least 10 each year since 1994."

The Toronto Star loves to stir up racial strife in Toronto. Last October, the paper came out with its "Race and Crime" series accusing Toronto police of racist actions. Although it appears to many that the Star is just trying to sell more newspapers (which they obviously are), the scary thing is that they probably actually believe that they are performing a public service by informing readers how racist the Blue Jays management is.

The Star is hypocritical. Never mind that the baseball club reflects Toronto’s diversity far better than the journalistic staff at the paper does. Like many others of their crusading ilk, they love to point out racism and wrongdoing in organizations like the Toronto police or the Blue Jays, but don’t dare question them about whether or not their reporters reflect the diversity of Toronto. In their exposé of the Toronto police force, the paper claimed that they were championing equality and social justice. No doubt they feel they have the same altruistic motives regarding the Blue Jays. But when they receive criticism about what they write, they whine about people trying to shoot the messenger. In other words, if you like what they do, they are activists crusading for social justice; if you don’t agree with them, they are just the messenger. There is obviously no contradiction in the parallel universe that the Toronto Star inhabits.

Unlike their "race and crime" series, the Star seems to be alone in its view that professional sports should have a quota system. Where’s Lincoln Alexander? Where’s Dudley Laws? Where’s the Ontario Human Rights Commission? Where’s the outrage at the lack of diversity in Toronto’s ball club? So far, the only blacks that have spoken out publicly have been the Jays’ first basemen Carlos Delgado and outfielder Vernon Wells, both highly critical of the newspaper’s stance.

In recent times there has been criticism of the concentration of media ownership in Canada. Despite this fear, the reaction to the "White Jays" article shows that there is a thriving press in Toronto. Like all zealots, the Toronto Star left out some facts that go against it's position that the Jays are somehow a racist organization. It was left to a National Post editorial to point out that about 8% of the population of Toronto is black and 2% are Latino. As the Post indicated, these two groups are over represented in the Blue Jays’ opening day roster. The Star smugly pointed out that the Jays were last in major leagues in the number of non-white opening day players, but left it to the Toronto Sun’s Peter Worthington to say that the team only had one less non-white player than the Boston Red Sox and the Anaheim Angels. Hardly makes J.P. Ricciardi a white supremist.

The Toronto Star will probably not rest until the Blue Jays have a starting lineup that includes Sikhs, Tamils, aboriginals, women, the physically challenged, and the transgendered. And when the transgendered player demands to be allowed to play wearing a dress and high heels, the Star will be right behind him/her.