In recent years, Jackie Robinson's legendary barrier-breaking career has been honored by MLB players by choice. Players that wanted to could wear No. 42 on their jerseys. It was a nice little tribute, and it was usually employed by African-American players primarily -- a nod to the player that made their careers, lifestyles and, more important, the overall cause of equality realities.
This year, Major League Baseball is going with a slightly different tact. Per Bud Selig's request, everyone will be wearing No. 42. Yes, everyone. Every player, every manager -- everyone that gets to wear a warmup in the dugout or on the sidelines will be wearing Jackie's classic No. 42:
The past two years, as the momentum to wear Robinson's number steamrolled through Major League clubhouses, Selig asked, but the act of wearing it was voluntary. Not so this year. "April 15, 1947, is a day that resonates with history throughout Major League Baseball," Selig said. "With all Major League players, coaches and umpires wearing Jackie's No. 42, we hope to demonstrate the magnitude of his impact on the game of baseball. Major League Baseball will never forget the contributions that Jackie made both on and off the field."
So there you have it. All Major League Players will be required to wear Jackie Robinson's number. And though there might be a weird free speech thing lurking somewhere under the surface here, who's going to complain? Really? You don't want to honor Jackie Robinson? Racist.
As a matter of fact, that might be the most delicious part of this. If there are still a few virulent racists left among Major League Baseball players -- and odds are, in an entire professional league, there are -- those players are now being forced, likely against their will, to wear the number of a player they surely hate. Irony is a dish best served on nylon-polyester blend.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who wishes he could personally laugh in the face of this theoretical racist. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.