Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo weighs in on Kevin Mather’s comments about interpreters
Rizzo responds to Mather's comments on interpreters who originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Anthony Rizzo, the first baseman of the Cubs, saw interpreters at work. Which Major Leaguer doesn't have that?
The president of an MLB team who complained about paying for a former player's interpreter said Rizzo was "kind of ridiculous".
When a reporter brought it up in a Zoom press conference on Monday, Rizzo hadn't heard that part of former Mariners President and CEO Kevin Mather's conversation with a Rotary club in the Seattle area. The video of Mather's 45-minute address earlier this month was broadcast on Sunday and sparked outrage on several fronts. Mather resigned on Monday.
Mather's chat with the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club contained a long list of insults and derogatory comments. Mather talked about manipulating players' service time. He shot at the MLB Players Association. He called veteran Kyle Seager "overpaid". When he asked an open-ended question about Julio Rodriguez, one of the first things Mather said was, "His English isn't great." In addition to being dismissive, the comment was also untrue, according to several reporters interviewing Rodriguez.
Mather's xenophobia continued when asked about how clubs help non-English speakers learn the language. After discussing the Mariners Academies in Latin American countries, Mather brought up Hisashi Iwakuma as an example of an Asian player who came to the United States in his thirties. The Mariners hired the former pitcher as a special coach this season.
"Wonderful person," said Mather. “His English is terrible. He wanted to come back into the game and came to us, and we honestly want him as our Asian scout, interpreter of what's going on in the Japanese league. He's coming to spring training.
"And I'm tired of paying his interpreter. Because when he was a gamer we paid Iwakuma X, but we also had to pay $ 75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him. "
Interpreters often translate for players in interviews, but also help with interactions around the stadium and facilitate the transition to a new country.
The former Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish also came to the USA from Japan. He made his MLB debut in 2012 in his mid-twenties. At the start of the 2019 season, Darvish began conducting interviews in English. Last season, when the interviews were moved to Zoom, he occasionally called the translation service.
"A lot of people who put the microphone and camera in front of their faces, who are not used to talking a lot and are not used to the English language, need this help," said Rizzo. “And it's not a blow to them, a lot of people speak English really well. But if they need help, they have to help. "
The Mariners condemned Mather's statements in a statement Monday.
"His comments were inappropriate and do not reflect our organization's feelings towards our players, staff and fans," said chairman and managing partner John Stanton. "There is no apology for what has been said and I will not try to make one. I sincerely apologize on behalf of the club and my partners to our players and fans. We have to be better and do better."
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