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Josh Donaldson Should Be Asking Why Yankees Peers Didn’t Back Him

It’s been nearly two weeks since Josh Donaldson called Tim Anderson “Jackie.” On Wednesday, it was clear that he hasn’t learned much from the incident.

Rather than show signs of introspection or reflection on Wednesday, Josh Donaldson expressed his uneasiness with members of the Yankees not defending the third baseman’s decision to call White Sox SS Tim Anderson “Jackie” on May 21.

The flippant reference to Jackie Robinson, which sparked a bench clearing, was deemed “racist” by White Sox manager Tony La Russa. Anderson, who is Black, agreed. Donaldson, in his day-of comments, apologized, but he also claimed that the reference was a running joke between the two, dating back to a 2019 Sports Illustrated article in which Anderson said, “I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson.” Anderson, however, dismissed that idea, stating that he told Donaldson to stop calling him “Jackie” and talking to him altogether in 2019.

“This is just somewhere, in my opinion, he should not be going,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone previously said of Donaldson’s remarks. “Joke or not, I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do there,” added Aaron Judge, who noted Donaldson’s multiple run-ins with the White Sox.

While those were mild critiques of Donaldson, the denunciations were apparently hard on the 36-year-old.

“I think that was tough to hear, for sure, just for the simple fact that I pride myself on being a good teammate,” Donaldson, who is recovering from right shoulder inflammation, said during batting practice Wednesday, per The AP’s Ronald Blum. “Everywhere I’ve went, every organization that I’ve been a part of, minus Oakland, has offered me extensions, has wanted me to stay.”

Never mind that Donaldson is on his seventh organization, or that he’s been traded four times, or that he’s ruffled feathers at other stops. At this point, nearly two weeks after the incident, one would think he would be asking himself why his peers didn’t have his back, rather than bemoaning that they didn’t.

But Donaldson has shown that he just doesn’t get it. He’s appealing the measly one-game suspension he received for his interactions with Anderson, the only real consequence he’s faced, while regurgitating the same explanation that White Sox closer Liam Hendriks called “complete bullshit” and “straight delusional.”

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“Usually, you have inside jokes with people you get along with,” Hendriks added, and it’s clear that Anderson is not one of those people in Donaldson’s life.

Yet Donaldson maintained on Wednesday that “maybe [Anderson] misinterpreted” the “Jackie” comments and that it was merely “banter.” Of course, Anderson already made it clear that he never felt that way, and a cascade of people have explained why Donaldson’s comments were harmful. Even if one is giving Donaldson some benefit of the doubt – that he didn’t intend to be racist or hurtful or disrespectful – his intentions are not the point, and he has had ample opportunities to understand why that was the case and grow from the confrontation.

Donaldson knew enough to issue an apology to the Robinson family last week, but the only other bit of self-awareness he offered Wednesday came after he discussed his surprise at Hendriks ripping him.

“I should not talk to these guys anymore, just because I don’t ever want to be brought up in that light or that spectacle,” Donaldson said of the White Sox. “It’s been tough.”

Not talking about this situation anymore is another thing Donaldson should consider. Because every time he does, the harder it is to believe that he’s learned anything from it, or that he will.

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Follow Gary Phillips on Twitter (@GaryHPhillips). Be sure to bookmark Inside The Pinstripes and check back daily for news, analysis and more.