Today, the Chicago Sun-Times's Gordon Wittenmyer has a story about Milton Bradley and Cubs fans. Specifically, Wittenmyer wants to know if Bradley thinks he can handle the sort of taunts that have earned Wrigley field a reputation for occasionally ugly fandom, the kind that targets black players with racial slurs and names and all sorts of unforgiveable nonsense. Other players have heard the taunts before. Angels outfielder Torii Hunter refused to come to the Cubs for that very reason. So Wittenmyer sees Bradley's history of volatility and does the math: will Bradley be able to handle the racist idiots in the third row?
Here's a thought. He shouldn't have to.
Maybe we're being a bit too idealistic, but at what point did we fans throw our hands up and give up on policing this sort of thing? At what point did we say, Welp, you know, it's just part of the game, that racism. Some people are going to be racist. Nothing we can do there. Let's hope Milton handles it well!
Wha? That sort of thinking is not only obviously offensive, it doubles down on its own stupidity by putting the onus for responsibility not on the fans, but on the player, who, may we remind you, is a target of racism. We expect Bradley to bite his lip when he's called whatever horrible name pops into a drunken lout's hazy brain, but we don't expect our own fans to reciprocate? And then we blame Bradley when he gets angry?
So note to Cubs fans: If someone is being racist in your section, have them escorted out. A small minority of Cubs fans shouldn't ruin the whole lot's reputation. But even more important than reputation is treating other human beings with basic decency. Today Major League Baseball will honor Jackie Robinson. It's a shame some Cubs fans didn't get the 60-year-old memo.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.