Offensive Tweet Hall of Shame

After Milwaukee Brewers RP Josh Hader’s offensive tweets came to light following his All-Star Game appearance, souring the Midsummer Classic and causing a major embarrassment to his team, I personally expected sports agents, and especially MLB agents, to take notice and ensure their clients’ old tweets were scrubbed if they contained any offensive and potentially embarrassing content. I was mistaken.

On Sunday, two more MLB players, Atlanta Braves SP Sean Newcomb and Washington Nationals INF Trea Turner, were forced to hastily issue CYA (cover your ass) statements after offensive tweets from several years ago came to light. Given that this past weekend was the MLB Hall of Fame weekend and I have previously written posts summarizing PED suspensions issued at the major and minor-league levels, I have decided to make a similar breakdown for players who have gotten into trouble for their offensive social media history, which I will refer to as the “Offensive Tweet Hall of Shame.”

Offensive Tweet Hall of Shame Inductees

Player: Steve Clevenger, C

Team: Seattle Mariners

Class (Year of Scrutiny): 2016

Offensive Tweets: 

Suspension Issued: Yes. Clevenger was suspended by the Mariners (not MLB) without pay for the remainder of the 2016 season. He had been on the 60-day DL at the time he wrote the tweets and did not return to play in the major leagues.

 

Player: Josh Hader, RP

Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Class (Year of Scrutiny): 2018 (tweets written in 2011-2012)

Offensive Tweets:

Suspension Issued? No. The tweets predate Hader’s relationship with the Brewers, and it was reported Hader would be “required to go through sensitivity training.”

 

Player: Sean Newcomb, SP

Team: Atlanta Braves

Class (Year of Scrutiny): 2018 (tweets written in 2011-2012)

Offensive Tweets:

Suspension Issued? No announcement has been made as this is a breaking story. The tweets date back to before Newcomb was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I suspect Newcomb will also be required to undergo sensitivity training.

 

Player: Trea Turner, INF

Team: Washington Nationals

Class (Year of Scrutiny): 2018 (tweets written in 2011-2012)

Offensive Tweets:

Suspension Issued? No announcement has been made as this is a breaking story. The tweets predate Turner’s relationship with the Nationals. I suspect Turner will also be required to undergo sensitivity training.

 

Honorable Mention

Player: Kyle Schwarber, OF

Team: Chicago Cubs

Year of Scrutiny: 2018 (tweet written in 2011)

Offensive Tweet:

Suspension Issued? No. This has not become a major story as Schwarber quietly deleted the tweet before it could attract attention.

 

Final Thoughts

This issue has been a disappointing development in the 2018 season. It’s not surprising that there are players who hold homophobic and racist views and have chosen to express these views on social media, given that other active players, such as Turner’s teammate, INF Daniel Murphy, and St. Louis Cardinals RP Bud Norris, have expressed such views without using offensive language. However, it should be unacceptable for players to use racial slurs and homophobic insults to express themselves, and the recent rash of scandals shows me that MLB and player agents have not chosen to take this seriously in order to ensure that fans from marginalized groups feel welcomed and prevent further damage to the image of the league and its players.

You might be wondering what I think MLB and agents could be doing better if the players have already issued apologies. First of all, MLB should go beyond requiring players to take sensitivity training. Corporate sensitivity training is widely regarded as a joke and a CYA measure for human resources departments. I believe MLB should instead issue suspensions for the players’ unsportsmanlike conduct and require players to complete community service programs with advocacy organizations representing the offended groups. Agents should also encourage their clients to take social media awareness courses as well as delete clients’ social media accounts once a contract is signed in order to start new, clean accounts.

Feel free to comment if I’ve missed anyone!

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