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Column: MLB’s ruling on the Josh Donaldson-Tim Anderson incident could have an effect on what’s acceptable trash talk

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Column: MLB’s ruling on the Josh Donaldson-Tim Anderson incident could have an effect on what’s acceptable trash talk

Modern baseball is boring.

That was Tim Anderson’s feeling in the spring of 2019 when the Chicago White Sox shortstop spoke to Sports Illustrated for a lengthy profile.

Anderson told SI writer Stephanie Apstein he felt like “today’s Jackie Robinson” in crossing what he called the “have-fun barrier,” hoping to make the game interesting to today’s fans.

“That’s huge to say,” he said of the Robinson reference. “But it’s cool, man, because he changed the game and I feel like I’m getting to a point where I need to change the game.”

The quote was a small part of a long-form article on Anderson’s emergence as a star. It came out on May 6, 2019, when the Sox still were rebuilding and the 25-year-old was beginning to make a name for himself in a season he later would win the American League batting title.

Three years later, MLB investigated an incident from Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium in which New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson called Anderson “Jackie” multiple times, precipitating a clearing of both teams’ benches and a war of words after the game.

On paper, it appeared to be a cut-and-dried case.

Donaldson surely was guilty. But of what, exactly? And what’s the penalty for instigating during a major-league game?

MLB handed out its ruling Monday, issuing Donaldson a one-game suspension and fine.

“There is no dispute over what was said on the field,” Mike Hill, MLB’s senior vice president for on-field operations, said in a statement. “Regardless of Mr. Donaldson’s intent, the comment he directed toward Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and in poor judgment, particularly when viewed in the context of their prior interactions.”

Donaldson — who elected to appeal his punishment — admitted to calling Anderson “Jackie,” explaining it was in reference to the 2019 SI interview. Donaldson’s defense was that he called Anderson “Jackie” during a previous series when he was with the Atlanta Braves, calling it an “inside joke.”

That series took place Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2019 — about four months after the SI article appeared. The Braves swept the Sox, who already were out of contention. There were no reported flare-ups and Donaldson signed with the Minnesota Twins after the season.

Anderson didn’t speak to the media Sunday in New York and hasn’t been asked whether he recalled the “inside joke” Donaldson said they share. Anderson is expected to address the media before Tuesday’s game against the Boston Red Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Donaldson also did not speak to the media Sunday. Yankees manager Aaron Boone gently suggested the remark was inappropriate, saying that mentioning Robinson’s name to Anderson “is just somewhere, in my opinion, he should not be going.” Boone said it was a “sensitive” issue and “you’ve got to read the room.”

After hearing Donaldson’s explanation, Boone said: “I sit here, as a white guy, that did change the context for me. But I also understand how it can be offensive or upsetting.”

Sox closer Liam Hendriks, who admittedly dislikes Donaldson from their days as Toronto Blue Jays teammates, called the inside joke defense “utter bull(bleep),” saying you don’t joke around with someone with whom you “don’t get along at all.”

Was it a “racist” comment, as Sox manager Tony La Russa alleged? Or just a poor choice of words that had no “malicious intent,” as Boone believed?

MLB didn’t go as far as siding with La Russa, but it clearly didn’t buy Donaldson’s story of an inside joke. The decision calling it “poor judgment” skirts the question of whether the remark was racist, and the ruling could have an effect on what is acceptable to say during games. What other trash talk is “poor judgment” that can lead to a suspension?

MLB has dealt with racial and ethnic slurs in the past. Former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was suspended one year and fined $25,000 in 1993 for “racially and ethnically offensive language” for making anti-Black and anti-Jewish slurs.

Anderson was involved in a similar incident in 2019 over a remark he made during a brawl to a Kansas City Royals pitcher. Anderson received a one-game suspension from MLB for “conduct” stemming from the undisclosed remark to Mitch Keller, who received a five-game suspension for throwing at Anderson in apparent retaliation for an epic bat flip following a home run.

In the 2019 SI article, Anderson admitted he called Keller a “weak-ass (bleeping N-word).” He said he did not regret calling Keller, who is white, the N-word.

“That’s a word in my vocabulary,” Anderson said. “When’s the last time (then-MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre) heard that word?”

Hill, a former Miami Marlins executive, currently holds the job of MLB disciplinarian. Anderson received a one-game suspension and fine from MLB on April 22 for making an obscene gesture toward fans during a game in Cleveland. But he appealed and won, receiving only an undisclosed fine.

Anderson is the face of the Sox organization and the undisputed leader of the clubhouse. He leads the AL again with a .359 average and finally is getting his due from the national media.

What’s more, Anderson seems to thrive on being in the spotlight, as evidenced by his walk-off home run in last season’s Field of Dreams game and his three-run blast Sunday night after being booed all night and called “Jackie” by Yankees fans.

Modern baseball may be boring.

But you can’t say the same about the White Sox.

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

For so much of the second half, Minnesota looked comfortable and ready to take a much-needed victory.

Shockingly, Inter Miami, the second-worst goal-scoring team in MLS notched two goals in the final three minutes to flip the script and take a 2-1 victory in the first MLS meeting between the two teams.

“[We] put ourselves in a great spot,” manager Adrian Heath said. “Put ourselves in a really good position. We’re not doing enough, it doesn’t look as though it’s enough to concede goals and lose games.”

Inter Miami forward Indiana Vassilev only made it into the game as a late-game bench substitution, but he made the most of his opportunity scoring in the 87th and 90th minute to give his team a victory, surpassing Minnesota’s one-goal lead it held since the 65th minute.

The Loons’ defense had kept Minnesota in the game for each chance Inter Miami had for the first 86 minutes, but the team couldn’t get the stops near the end to come up with the victory.

“At those times of the game, you need to do whatever you can to just beat your man,” Loons defender Michael Boxall said.

Minnesota’s victory looked nearly locked up as the Loons held the 1-0 difference into the final five minutes of the game. That goal followed a resilient start to the second half after many chances weren’t finished.

The Minnesota goal scorer was Luis Amarilla, who put the ball past the Inter Miami goalkeeper in tight in the 65th minute. It was his first goal in MLS play since March 19.

Amarilla was in such a position to score the goal so close to the keeper because of an acrobatic one-touch centering pass from Franco Fragapane. The play all began from Emmanuel Reynoso getting the ball on the right side of the attacking zone. He cut towards the middle and sent a lofting kick that found the airborne Fragapane for his assist.

While Minnesota finally found the back of the net in the back half of the game, there was no shortage of missed opportunities earlier in the contest.

“We’re not good enough at one end, and we’re not good enough at the other, and that’s not a good recipe,” Heath said. “We’ve got to get more and more determination to get on the things in the box and we’ve certainly got to defend the goal better.”

By the end of the game, Inter Miami had eight shots on target, while Minnesota had just one, the Amarilla goal.

The loss marks the first since Minnesota announced Heath’s two-year contract extension through 2024 on Thursday. The defeat also adds to a 1-6-1 stretch over the Loons’ last eight games, including Saturday night.

Heath said on Wednesday that the goal was to come away with four points in this road trip at Inter Miami on Saturday and on Wednesday at L.A. Galaxy. With the loss to Inter Miami, that goal is no longer possible.

The Loons must keep looking forward to get back on track and into playoff contention. After the loss on Saturday, Minnesota sits 11th in the Western Conference Standings, five points outside of the seventh spot, the cutoff for the playoffs.

“The good thing is that it’s a quick turnaround,” Boxall said. “Not quite looking ahead to L.A. just yet, we still need to process this game and figure out what we need to address, because that should be three points we’re taking home tonight.”

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

Puffy white clouds filled the blue skies above Target Field and sunlight bounced off buildings that make up the Minneapolis skyline. It was the kind of summer night at the ballpark that Minnesotans dream about throughout the long winter months.

It was the perfect night at Target Field and the hometown team, well, they were nearly perfect, too. Twins pitchers gave up just one hit (and five walks), and the team captured a first-inning lead on its way to a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night at Target Field.

A day after getting shut out for the 10th time this season, tying the league lead, Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton made sure early on that the Twins wouldn’t suffer the same fate. Arraez snapped an 0-for-11 stretch to begin the game and Buxton, back in the lineup for the first time since Tuesday, followed that up with his first triple since 2019.

After missing time this week after his knee flared up, Buxton turned on the burners, with a sprint speed of 29.3 feet/second (30 ft/sec is elite) on the triple, losing his helmet along the way. When he reached the base, he pounded his chest a couple times, smacked his hands together and let out a roar.

While the Twins left Buxton on third, they added on throughout the game, tacking on a run in the second on Arraez’s second hit of the game, two more in the fifth and two more in the seventh.

Alex Kirilloff drove in three of those runs, one on a sacrifice fly and the other on a double off the right field wall, bringing home Max Kepler — who walked three times in the game — and Kyle Garlick. The double was his fourth in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A.

All that offense came in support of Chris Archer, who worked five innings and allowed just one hit — a single to former Twin C.J. Cron in the second inning — and a walk in his outing.  Archer pitched out of that second-inning jam, retiring the next three batters in a row, the first of 12 straight that he sent down to conclude his start.

His start was followed by a scoreless inning each from Jharel Cotton and Griffin Jax and two from Tyler Thornburg. Twins pitchers have now thrown two shutouts in their past three games, and in Friday’s loss, they gave up just one run.

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

1858: Joseph Israel Lobdell, born Lucy Lobdell, is arrested for “impersonating a man.” A judge in the rural camp community of Forest City, Minn., sided with Lobdell, ruling that he did not act unlawfully.

1877: Minneapolis rules crossdressing as illegal, putting gender-nonconforming Minnesotans at risk for imprisonment.

1969: The Stonewall riots begin in New York City after police raids occur in the gay-friendly bars and community spaces of Lower Manhattan. These riots serve as a public turning point in American LGBTQ+ history.

May 18, 1969: University of Minnesota alumni found Fight Repression of Erotic Expression, or FREE, the first LGBTQ+ rights organization in the state. Founders Jack Baker and Michael McConnell become the first same-sex couple in the nation to apply for a marriage license, an application that is rejected by Hennepin County. Their legal case is dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court in one sentence.

1972: The first Twin Cities Pride celebration is held in Minneapolis’ Loring Park.

Dec. 9, 1972: Minnesota state Sen. Allan Henry Spear indicates he is gay in an interview with the Minneapolis Star, making him the first openly gay state legislator in the United States.

June 1982: Bruce Brockway becomes the first documented recipient of an HIV diagnosis in Minnesota. After his diagnosis, he founded the Minnesota AIDS Project to provide resources to HIV-positive Minnesotans.

1993: Gender- and sexuality-based discrimination is outlawed in Minnesota, making it the first state in the nation to adopt the policy.

1997: Sicaŋgu Lakota man Nicholas Metcalf and his partner, Korean-American Edd Lee, found the Minnesota Men of Color, an organization that focuses on the well-being of men, women and gender-nonconforming people of color.

2012: Amendment 1, which limits marriage rights to only heterosexual couples, is rejected by the majority of Minnesota voters. Same-sex marriage is legalized in the state.

June 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court releases a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges finding that same-sex marriage cannot be banned in any state and must be recognized nationally. Gay marriage is legalized.

June 25-26, 2022: After two years of pandemic-related cancellations, the Twin Cities Pride parade and festival returns to Minneapolis.

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