I'll jump around the article a bit:
The Red Sox's sudden abundance of white players, though, appears nothing more than a coincidence, a fluky snapshot in time.
I think this is true. But Rosenthal gets right to the ever present undertone about Boston:
If not for the Red Sox's past, if not for Boston's reputation, the issue might not be even worth raising.
But the Sox carry a special burden.
They have a shameful history of discrimination, one that their present ownership group has tried to address. And a perception has long existed among some African-American athletes that Boston is hostile to players who are not white.
Now, about what the facts tell us:
Of the Red Sox's current players in the ALCS, the only African- American is outfielder Coco Crisp.
The only Latin Americans are designated hitter David Ortiz, who is from the Dominican Republic, and utility infielder Alex Cora and reliever Javier Lopez, both of whom are from Puerto Rico.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is Native American. Pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima are from Japan. Reliever Manny Delcarmen is of Dominican descent, and injured third baseman Mike Lowell was born to Cuban parents in Puerto Rico.
The Sox's composition is surprising in an era in which rosters are more diverse than at any point in the game's history, even as the number of African-American players continues to decline.
So why bring all this up? The luring of non-White free agents.
The question is whether the Red Sox will lose players they want because of the makeup of their club, the perception of the city or both. Players generally seek comfort as well as money when they make career decisions.
It's also worth noting that there are many other clubs with a similar racial profile (Phillies, Indians), but Rosenthal seems to focus on the Sox simply due to the city's history.
Clearly, this is not the same franchise that passed on Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays before becoming the last club to integrate in 1959, 12 years after Robinson's debut. The Red Sox did not sign an African- American free agent until 1993, and their failure to win a World Series for 86 years was due in part to their racial practices.
All that changed after a group led by John Henry purchased the team in 2002. The Sox established diversity and community-outreach programs, and the team's message of inclusion extends to the clubhouse, where manager Terry Francona fosters a diverse, tolerant environment. The Sox's 2004 World Series championship team was an exuberant mishmash of cultures and personalities.
What do you think?
UPDATE (10/14/08, 3:35pm): With a big thanks to loyal reader/watchdog/all-around good guy tadthebad, here's Rosenthal from earlier this Spring, extolling the RedSox ability to integrate. It only leaves me more confused on what he was trying to do with the main article.
The Red Sox are a better example of a melting pot, but they are not just a cultural melting pot. The Sox are a blend of players young and old, gifted and ordinary, wealthy and hungry. The pieces – from Manny Ramirez to Dustin Pedroia, Daisuke Matsuzaka to Jonathan Papelbon – could not be more disparate. But somehow, under the leadership of manager Terry Francona, they all pull toward a common goal.
If the Red Sox can make it work, any team can.