Tensions had been simmering between Josh Donaldson and Tim Anderson since last week, but the feud took a turn on Saturday when the White Sox claimed the Yankees slugger made a racist comment toward Anderson.
Donaldson admitted after the Yankees win 7-5 in The Bronx he jokingly called Anderson “Jackie” — as he has done in the past, he said — referencing a 2019 Sports Illustrated story in which Anderson describes himself as “the Jackie Robinson of today”.
Although Donaldson insisted the two had laughed it off before, Anderson, who is black, didn’t take it as a joke the Saturday. He said Donaldson asked him, “What’s up, Jackie?” several times.
“If anything has changed since , my sense of that is not a term of trying to be racist by any fact,” Donaldson said. “It was right next to an interview what his name was. We said it before, we joked about it. He laughed, whatever.
But Anderson wasn’t laughing Saturday.
“I don’t play like that,” Anderson said. “It happened the first time he went up, and I dropped out that time, and it happened again. It’s just moved. … I’ll never fall asleep.
As of early Saturday evening, Major League Baseball was reviewing the matter and speaking with all affected parties, according to a source. It is possible that disciplinary measures will be taken, depending on the results of this investigation.
Donaldson said he called Anderson “Jackie” in the opening round on Saturday in an effort to defuse the situation after tempers flared between the two last weekend in Chicago. They bit again on Saturday in the third and fifth innings, when White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal had a lengthy confrontation with Donaldson at home plate that led to the benches and relievers clearing.
“Obviously he felt it was disrespectful,” Donaldson said. “Look, if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do at all. That’s really what happened.
Before Donaldson told reporters his side of the story, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he had heard “some talk” about what White Sox manager Tony La Russa called commentary. racist, but always tried to get to the bottom of things.
Donaldson later said he explained the story behind Anderson’s 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 wasn’t sure the White Sox star would be willing to listen.
“There were a few situations where he tried to put me in my face and say other words to me,” Donaldson said. “It keeps happening. That’s why after slipping into second base today [in the seventh inning], I just kind of looked at him after he said something to me and I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve had enough.’ I just laughed.
When the last out of the third inning was made, Donaldson was rounding second base, but quickly stopped to talk with Anderson. A week after a brawl between the two in Chicago, which was sparked by Donaldson appearing to push Anderson out of the bag during a pick-up attempt, the two tweeted (Donaldson said Anderson threw profanity at him) before eventually following their separate paths.
This set the stage for the biggest showdown of round five. As Donaldson walked over to the plate, Grandal confronted him about the “Jackie” comment. Anderson quickly ran from his position at shortstop before the benches and relievers were cleared. The teams faced off behind the plate, but the only action was Anderson being dragged away from the stage by his teammates.
The referees then issued warnings to both dugouts, although tempers apparently died down from there.
“I thought it was a joke between [Anderson] and me, because we talked about it before,” Donaldson said. “Like I said, let me mention it again, his name is Jackie Robinson. That’s why I thought it was funny between us.
— Additional reporting by Zach Braziller
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