The WFAN legend ripped the third baseman on ESPN First Take, dismissing his claims that his “Jackie” taunts toward White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson were some sort of inside joke referencing a 2019 interview when Anderson compared himself to Jackie Robinson. Anderson has since denied Donaldson’s assertion in the wake of their altercation.
“Donaldson is a clown,” Russo said. “Let’s call it like we see it. He gave (Lucas) Giolito a lot of grief a couple of years ago with the sticky stuff, he killed Gerrit Cole, he likes to get under people’s skin. He was on the Twins. Why would a Twin and a White Sock be buddies? I buy what Anderson said. I don’t think they were ever friendly. … He’s a clown. He was wrong.”
Donaldson, currently on the COVID-19 injured list, was suspended for a game and fined by MLB following the incident, which White Sox manager Tony LaRussa alleged was racist in nature. Donaldson is appealing the punishment.
Russo said he felt MLB “set the right tempo” with its decision. And he pointed to critical comments by Yankees manager Aaron Boone and slugger Aaron Judge as proof Donaldson was in the wrong.
“When you use Jackie Robinson’s name,” Russo said, “who is a linchpin of the sport and one of the most important figures we had in the 20th century, if you use him in a disparaging way toward anybody else.
“Another player, an African-American player who Robinson inspired him and he wants to inspire other young African-American players to play like Jackie did – when you use that in a negative way, you deserve a suspension. Jackie Robinson’s name should never be used in any negative connotation in the sport.”
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]