“When you speak like that about us, it’s a slap in the face,” Ortiz said of Latinos in general. “I walk around sometimes, and I see Mexican people trying to earn a living in an honest way. And to hear somebody make those kinds of comments, it hits you. I think as Latin people we deserve better. Things have gotten much better in that regard. … As Latin people we deserve respect, no matter where you’re from. And especially our Mexican brothers, who come here willing to do all the dirty work.
“Latin people here in the United States are the spark plug of the country’s economy. Whoever opposes that is going to lose. And not just Latin people but immigrants. I’m talking about people who come from Africa, from Asia, other places. All those people come here with one goal, to realize the American dream, and you have to include them in our group.”
Trump has notably hinged much of his presidential campaign on immigration reform and border security, notoriously announcing his run by saying Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Ortiz’s comments are also notable at a time when athletes are often told to “#sticktosports” in response to any thought, comment or feeling they might have about anything other than their literal job. The last few weeks of the Sports Media Outrage Cycle were fueled by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem to raise awareness of systemic racism and will likely not die down as more athletes are kneeling with him in solidarity. While NBA and WNBA athletes have recently become more outspoken on social-justice issues, athletes in other major American sports have tended to shy from the conversation.
(Then, of course, there’s Curt Schilling.)