Headlined "Baseball Writers Should Meet Manny Halfway", it discusses language and the relationship between Ramirez (who Nau says is "probably the least understood superstar in Boston sports history") and the Boston media. It also tells us a little about Roberto Clemente:
As author David Maraniss notes in his fine biography "Clemente," former Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente endured insensitive treatment by baseball writers throughout his career. Writers often quoted his halting English phonetically, stretching out his vowels, having him saying "Theee-se theeengs bother me" in the newspapers.Nau asks a simple question:
Clemente was a proud, sensitive and intelligent man. As Maraniss observes, he was also a bit of a hypochondriac. He had almost been killed in an auto accident back home in Puerto Rico in the early 1950s and suffered from chiropractic issues the rest of his life. The Pittsburgh media, and eventually the national media, never knew about the accident. They just assumed he was "jaking it" whenever he took a day off.
In response, Clemente would express reluctance over talking to the media. He had taken the time to learn how to speak English. Still, the writers made fun of him in print. Clemente did not appreciate that lack of sincerity and when the opportunity arose, he would shout down an offending scribe over an innocuous question, just to make his point.
How difficult might it be for a baseball writer to take a course in Spanish and develop a small vocabulary in the language, the same way so many Latin ballplayers have done with English?Having traveled in different parts of the world, it's obvious that making a sincere effort to speak the local language (Spanish, French, Italian, etc.), however poorly and haltingly, helps immeasurably in getting information and advice. It's a simple show of respect. (I will admit, though, it's usually Laura doing the speaking.)
Is the media the equivalent of the boorish American tourist who thinks he'll be understood if he just talks louder in English?