Phillies Legend Said Odubel Herrera Can’t Lead a Team Because He Doesn’t Speak Enough English

Lead Photo: Photo is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.
Photo is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.
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Since the World Baseball Classic’s tumultuous finale, baseball’s underlying racial conflicts have begun to bubble to the surface, and thanks to one Philadelphia Phillies legend, the conversation surrounding Latino peloteros continues at an unrelenting pace.

Earlier this week, former Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt talked some xenophobic bullshit on Angelo Cataldi’s WIP-FM morning radio show, claiming that the team can’t build around star center fielder Odubel Herrera because the Venezuelan-born player does not speak enough English.

“First of all, it is a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can’t be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four or five American players and talk about the game or try to learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game,” Schmidt presumed.

Schmidt’s comments ignore the fact that Herrera is actively working on his English currently with team interpreter Diego Ettedgui. Ettedgui’s constant presence around the clubhouse makes it easy for Spanish-speaking players to have conversations with American players, crossing the so-called barrier parroted by Schmidt on the show.

And, really, the only thing that the Phillies should look at for their centerpiece is talent, and Herrera has plenty of it. As long as he can produce on the field, the 25-year-old can and will be looked to as a leader to build around. After all, the Seattle Mariners never had an issue building around Ichiro while he learned English; the Phillies will be fine using an interpreter for the time being.

Even Schmidt must have realized how dumb his comments were, because he has since backtracked. The Hall of Famer already called Herrera to personally apologize. Herrera said that he wasn’t happy about Schmidt’s remarks, but still admitted to respecting his on-field legacy. “I don’t agree with his comments but I respect him as a player,” Herrera said. “I know he’s one of the greatest Phillies of all time, but I don’t agree with his comments.”

Herrera continued, “It is disappointing because you never want to hear negative comments, but he called me, he apologized, he explained what happened. So everything is good.”

That would have been enough, but Schmidt couldn’t help himself, deploying the famous person “sorry if you misunderstood” non-apology tour, issuing a statement full of feigned ignorance. “It’s been made known to me that my answer on a radio interview this morning to the question, ‘Can the Phillies build a team around Odubel Herrera?,’ was disrespectful to Herrera and Latin players in general,” the statement read. “I’m very sorry that this misrepresentation of my answer occurred and may have offended someone. I assure everyone I had no intention of that. Odubel is a dynamo on the field, and as he becomes more comfortable with the language, his leadership skills will improve, and no doubt he will be a centerpiece in the Phillies future.”

Regardless of how Mike Schmidt feels about him, Herrera has been on a tear in recent games, going 8-for-13 in his last 3 games, tallying up 2 homers and 8 RBIs, showing off the bat that made him such a great star-in-the-making in the first place.