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Tim Anderson has 96 career homers and both of his home runs at Yankee Stadium are notable for completely differing reasons.
On April 14, 2019, he connected for a grand slam off Masahiro Tanaka right as Tiger Woods claimed his first Masters’ title since 2005. It was a neat moment that prompted Anderson to quip “Tiger told him to do it” when it was brought to his attention about the timing of the virtually simultaneous events.
It also was about a month before he gave an interview to Sports Illustrated where he talked about changing the game and bringing fun back, saying: “I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson because he changed the game, and I feel like I’m getting to a point to where I need to change the game.
That interview was brought to forefront because of what unfolded between him and Josh Donaldson on Saturday when Anderson accused Donaldson of a racist remark and Donaldson said he was joking around during an uncomfortable question and answer session nearly an hour after his comments overshadowed the Yankees’ 29th win.
The remark in question was Donaldson calling Anderson “Jackie” during their encounters on the bases, resulting in benches-clearing incidents in the third and fifth inning that were more like shouting matches with the potential to escalate into a brawl with significant ejections.
In Sunday’s doubleheader, Donaldson played the first game and Anderson played in the nightcap on the ESPN broadcast, which had analysts Eduardo Perez and David Cone say Donaldson was wrong even if there the third baseman thought there was not malicious attempt.
It was a similar sentiment for manager Aaron Boone, who believed one of his newest players did have any malicious intent although the incident may result in some kind of discipline as soon as Monday.
“I think with what’s going on between the two players and between the two teams over the last week or two, I certainly understand how that would be sensitive and understand the reaction,” Boone said. “I also understand Josh has been very forthcoming with the history of it and the context of it. So, I don’t believe there was any malicious intent in that regard.”
“But this is just my opinion – (that’s) somewhere he should not be going,” Boone added.
Hours after Boone voiced his opinion and Liam Hendriks made his feelings known, Anderson provided the biggest comment with his bat by hitting a three-run homer in the eighth inning. Anderson dropped the bat, ran the bases, and made a shushing motion towards the fans who spent Sunday night booing him while rounding third and touching the plate.
“Think about the game he had under those circumstances,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said of the player he referred to as special last week in Kansas City.
It was the fitting capper on another three-hit performance for Anderson, who won the batting title in 2019 and is hitting .359 – 11 points behind current AL leader Taylor Ward. It also was the latest in a series of dynamic performances for Anderson who seems headed for a fourth straight .300 season in a time when some people disregard batting average.
The needless controversy created by Donaldson, even if he did think he was offending anyone, was just the latest thing with him and the White Sox, who continued their harsh words for him.
“Completely inappropriate,” Hendriks said about Donaldson’s words. “And then after hearing what was said after the game, usually you have inside jokes with people you get along with, not people that don’t get along at all. So that statement right there was complete (expletive).”
Before making the comment to Anderson, Donaldson scrapped with him on May 13 in Chicago following a hard tag on a pickoff play at third. That sequence led to Anderson countering with a shove and benches and bullpens clearing.
With that incident still on his mind, Donaldson said he “trying to defuse” any remaining tensions when the players crossed paths early on Saturday.
Ultimately, Donaldson’s comments provided an endless series of takes on social media, talk radio and elsewhere, leading the Yankees to their worst weekend of a special 41-game start, a weekend that saw them learn Chad Green is headed for Tommy John surgery and Aroldis Chapman has been pitching with an Achilles issue while allowing an earned run in five straight appearances.