Tensions have been simmering between Josh Donaldson and Tim Anderson since last week, but the feud took a turn on Saturday when the White Sox alleged the Yankees player made a racist comment toward Anderson.
Donaldson admitted after Yankees win 7-5 in The Bronx jokingly called Anderson “Jackie” – as he said in the past, he said – in reference to the 2019 Sports Illustrated story in which Anderson described himself as “today’s Jackie Robinson.”
Although Donaldson insisted the two had laughed about it before, Anderson, who is black, didn’t take it as a joke on Saturday. He said Donaldson asked him, “What’s the matter, Jackie?” many times.
“If something changes from ”What I mean by that is not any term for trying to be racist by any means,” Donaldson said. “It was what he called himself far from the interview. We’ve said it before, and joked about it. Laugh whatever.”
But Anderson wasn’t laughing on Saturday.
“I don’t play like that,” Anderson said. “This happened the first time he went up, and I let it go at that time, and it happened again. It’s just an excuse for. … I will never sleep this.”
By early Saturday evening, Major League Baseball was looking into the matter and speaking with all relevant parties, according to a source. It is possible that a disciplinary action will be issued, depending on the results of this investigation.
Donaldson said he called Anderson “Jackie” in the first half on Saturday in an effort to calm the situation after tensions flared between the two last weekend in Chicago. They broke up again on Saturday in the third and fifth inning, when White Sox catcher Yasmane Grandal had an extended standoff with Donaldson at the plate that led to a clearing and benches.
“Obviously he considered that to be disrespectful,” Donaldson said. “Look, if he did, I apologise. That’s by no means what I was trying to do. That’s what really happened.”
Before Donaldson gave his side of the story to reporters, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he heard “some talk” about what White Sox manager Tony La Russa claimed was a racist comment, but was still trying to get to the bottom of the matter.
Donaldson later said he explained the story behind Anderson calling “Jackie” to some of his teammates. As for whether he would share that explanation directly with Anderson, Donaldson would be “more than happy to talk,” but he wasn’t sure if the White Sox star would be willing to hear it.
“There have been two instances where he has tried to face my face and say other words to me,” Donaldson said. “It happens constantly. That’s why after I slipped to second base today [in the seventh inning], I kind of looked at him after he said something to me and I’m like, “Okay, I’m done.” I just laughed.”
When the final of the third inning was made, Donaldson was about second base, but soon stopped to speak with Anderson. After a week of dusting off the two in Chicago, which Donaldson apparently blew to push Anderson away from the bag while trying to take off, the two tweeted at each other (Donaldson said Anderson threw profanity his way) before finally going their separate ways.
That paved the way for a bigger showdown in the fifth game. When Donaldson walked to the board, Grandal confronted him about Jackie’s comment. Anderson quickly ran from his position a short distance before the benches and ox-posts were cleared. The teams went head-to-head behind the board, but the only action was to drag Anderson away from the scene by his teammates.
The rulers then issued warnings to both hideouts, though the anger seems to have settled from there.
“I thought it was a joke between [Anderson] Donaldson said. “Like I said, let me state again, he called himself Jackie Robinson. That’s why I thought he was funny between us.”
– Additional reporting by Zack Braziler
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