Happy Roberto Clemente Day!
Quick question – did you know it was Roberto Clemente Day? Or – did you know September 9 was going to be Roberto Clemente this year prior to the several articles that started coming out about a week or so ago?
I really wish Major League Baseball would spend a little more time planning, promoting, and celebrating this commemorative day. After all, they made it up, the least they can do it celebrate it properly. Every year, I contemplate writing something in honor of the event, but I am quickly derailed by the fact that I’m not sure when Clemente Day is. I always see articles on the internet stating that Clemente Day is celebrated on [insert whatever date here] every year. This is not true. Once again this year, I found it infuriating this year that several news articles about Roberto Clemente Day started out along the lines of: “MLB established September 9 as Roberto Clemente Day in 2002.” Wrong! MLB established September 9 as Roberto Clemente Day for this year at some point in the recent past. It’s on a different day every year (see tomorrow’s post). No wonder none of us can plan for, remember, or even celebrate the day! Of course, not all teams are at home on a specific day, like September 9. But, like Jackie Robinson Day, this can be overcome.
Even if you go to mlb.com, click on “Schedule” and then click on “Important Dates,” the promised “Full coverage” about Roberto Clemente Day takes you to a lame “Roberto Clemente Day” website – or web page, I should say – which they can’t even be bothered to update (to be fair, their “Jackie Robinson Day” page is only slightly better). There are basically three sections to this page: (1) a news “carousel,” (2) corresponding videos, and (3) an “About Roberto Clemente Day” section on the right-hand side, which includes a link to yet another page where you can go to vote for who you want to win the award this year (not that its clear how your vote is considered in the final determination of who wins). Seriously – that’s it. Hardly anything about the man himself, his impact on baseball, or even past winners of the Roberto Clemente Award.
As of yesterday, there are a grand total of FOUR articles in that news carousel – only one of which is from this year:
- “2020 Roberto Clemente Award nominees,” published on Sept. 3, 2020
- “Indians’ Carrasco named 2019 Clemente Award winner,” published on Oct. 25, 2019
- “MLB, MLBPA donate to Hurricane Dorian relief in recognition of Clemente’s legacy,” published on Sept. 18, 2019
- “Cardinals’ Yadier Molina receives 2018 Clemente Award,” published on Oct. 24, 2018
The “About Roberto Clemente Day” section says only this: “Roberto Clemente Day was established by Major League Baseball to honor the legacy of the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. In his honor, MLB annually presents the Roberto Clemente Award to recognize the player who best represents the game of Baseball through sportsmanship, community involvement and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Club nominees for this prestigious award are announced on Roberto Clemente Day each year.”
Which roughly translates to: “We (MLB) established Roberto Clemente Day – yay us! Clemente was a good guy, but more about US: we renamed a PRESTIGIOUS award after him and we give it to a player through a really unclear process every year. We announce the nominees every year on Robert Clemente Day – but we can’t tell you when that is because we apparently decide at the last minute. Yay us for being diverse!” Or, you know, something along those lines.
If MLB really wanted to celebrate the legacy of Roberto Clemente and the contributions of its Latino players, they could start by having Roberto Clemente Day on the same day every year. You know, so people could plan for it, write about it, and celebrate it. They could upgrade that website to provide more information on Roberto Clemente and the Roberto Clemente Award. They could even exploit fans, which we know they like to do, by selling us Roberto Clemente stuff and Hispanic Heritage Month stuff (which they also do a really bad job of celebrating). For example, we’d love it if they’d sell those “Ponle Acento” shirts that the players wear! And, if they really wanted to be good guys, they could donate the proceeds from selling us that stuff to organizations that help folks – maybe even that help Latinos in need.
Tomorrow, I’ll continue my rant about the seemingly random dates Roberto Clemente Day has been celebrated. (If anyone knows why it’s always different, please enlighten us.) Next week, I’ll discuss the Roberto Clemente Award.
Until then, Happy Clemente Day! There’s so much more MLB can do with this celebration. Maybe we should demand that they do.