Major League Baseball suspended Josh Donaldson for one game after determining the Yankees third baseman had made “disrespectful” comments to Tim Anderson, a shortstop for the Chicago White Sox.
On Saturday, Donaldson, who is white, was confronted by various members of the White Sox after he repeatedly referred to Anderson, who is Black, as “Jackie.” He said the comments were meant to be an inside joke between the players and were referencing a magazine article in which Anderson said he felt like “today’s Jackie Robinson.”
Chicago’s players and coaching staff rejected that explanation. Manager Tony La Russa said Donaldson had made a “racist” comment, Anderson said he agreed with the characterization and multiple players characterized Donaldson’s relationship with their team as adversarial.
The White Sox are off on Monday before a three-game series with Boston, but Ethan Katz, the team’s pitching coach, reacted to the suspension on Twitter, questioning whether it was long enough.
“Just one game,” Katz said in the post, which has been deleted. “We all saw his malice at third a week ago, then this comment with the ridiculous excuse that followed. What’s the point or message behind a 1 game suspension? This is incredibly disappointing and plain frustrating.”
Even Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said before Sunday’s doubleheader, which Chicago swept, that he did not think Donaldson should have made the comment.
“I don’t believe there was any malicious intent in that regard,” Boone told reporters. “But you know, this is, just in my opinion, somewhere he should not be going.”
In Monday’s statement about the suspension, which includes an undisclosed fine, Michael Hill, M.L.B.’s senior vice president for on-field operations, said the league had completed an investigation and found that the facts of the case were not in question.
“MLB has completed the process of speaking to the individuals involved in this incident,” the statement said. “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.
“In addition, Mr. Donaldson’s remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline.”
That discipline, however, will have to wait. Donaldson appealed the decision, which would have allowed him to play while the appeal was pending, but just before the suspension was announced the Yankees placed him on the Covid-19 injured list.