Yankees’ Josh Donaldson suspended, fined by MLB for ‘disrespectful’ comment toward Tim Anderson

Major League Baseball fined and suspended New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson for a game on Monday after remarks he made on Saturday toward Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson led to a benches-clearing spat, the league announced. Donaldson, who was placed on the COVID-19 injured list on Monday, will appeal the suspension.

Donaldson, by his own admission, addressed Anderson as “Jackie” during an interaction between the two in the third inning. “Jackie” is a reference to Jackie Robinson, who integrated MLB in 1947 as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Anderson and his White Sox teammates took exception to the comment, with catcher Yasmani Grandal later confronting Donaldson during his at-bat in the fifth inning. Both benches spilled onto the field as part of the confrontation, but no ejections were made.

“There is no dispute over what was said on the field. 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,” MLB’s Senior Vice President for On-Field Operations Michael Hill said in a statement. “In addition, Mr. Donaldson’s remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline.”

Donaldson claimed that calling Anderson “Jackie” was part of a long-running inside joke between the two players, and that it stemmed from a 2019 Sports Illustrated article in which Anderson was quoted as saying the following:

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

It is important to contextualize Anderson’s quote, which comes midway through an article that is framed around the isolation he feels as a Black man playing a sport that is largely played, managed, and governed by white men. To wit, ESPN’s 2017 gender and race report card found that nearly 60 percent of players are white. Moreover, Dusty Baker (Astros) and Dave Roberts (Dodgers) are the only Black managers, and not a single current general manager or franchise owner is Black.

“That’s completely inappropriate, and then after hearing what was said after the game, usually you have inside jokes with the people you get along with, not people that don’t get along at all,” White Sox closer Liam Hendriks told reporters of Donaldson’s explanation. “So that statement right there was complete bullshit. But, then again, my feelings toward the individual in question are pretty well documented that we don’t get along. I’ve now spoken to, I think it’s four separate clubhouses that he’s been into and, as a whole, none of ’em got along.

Donaldson also argued that he had grown tired of Anderson jawing at him, indicating that the two were not on friendly terms entering Saturday’s game.

Donaldson, 36 years old, was acquired in an offseason trade from the Minnesota Twins. In 37 games this season, he’s hit .238/.349/.415 (126 OPS+) with five home runs and eight additional extra-base hits. The Yankees will likely use DJ LeMahieu at third base during Donaldson’s absence, with Gleyber Torres serving as their second baseman.

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