Two more Major League Baseball players apologized Sunday — one half-hardheartedly — after offensive tweets using gay and racial slurs they sent as teenagers years ago came to light.
The offending players were Sean Newcomb, an Atlanta Braves pitcher, and Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner, both 25. Each apologized to various degrees, as did their teams. They are the second and third MLB players who had offensive tweets surface recently, joining Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers two weeks ago.
Major League Baseball said that Newcomb would meet with former player and now league executive Billy Bean, who is openly gay, as part of diversity training. I am certain that the same will happen with Turner, whose offensive tweets were not found until late Sunday night.
Newcomb’s tweets surfaced as he was trying to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers, when there was national attention on him. The no-hitter was broken up with two outs in the ninth inning.
Newcomb was 18 when and a college freshman when the offensive tweets were sent. He used the word “fag” in six separate tweets and misspelled “faggot” in another, along with making racist comments including using the word “nigga.”
Two of Turner’s resurfaced tweets were replies in which acquaintances were called homophobic slurs. In another, the tweet reads “unless ur gay” in a reply to a former North Carolina State teammate. A fourth tweet suggests that if a woman working at a drive-through were to ask who the [faggot] in the back of a car was, it would be Turner. A fifth tweet reads, “Once u go black, u gonna need a wheelchair,” a line from the movie “White Chicks.”
Both players issued apologies, though Newcomb’s was less than convincing.
“I felt that it would be good to address it right away and just let people know that I meant nothing by it,” Newcomb said. “I didn’t mean to offend anybody and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’ll be smarter. I think that people who know me know that’s now the kind of person I am.”
That’s a totally lame apology and not acceptable. There is nothing sincere or contrite about what he wrote and it’s in stark contrast to how Hader reacted when his tweets surfaced.
Turner’s mea cupla was better:
“There are no excuses for my insensitive and offensive language on Twitter,” Turner said in a statement released by the Nationals. “I am sincerely sorry for those tweets and apologize wholeheartedly. I believe people who know me understand those regrettable actions do not reflect my values or who I am. But I understand the hurtful nature of such language and am sorry to have brought any negative light to the Nationals organization, myself or the game I love.”
Both teams also issued statements:
“I have spoken with Trea regarding the tweets that surfaced earlier tonight,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “He understands that his comments — regardless of when they were posted — are inexcusable and is taking full responsibility for his actions. The Nationals organization does not condone discrimination in any form, and his comments do not in any way reflect the values of our club. Trea has been a good teammate and model citizen in our clubhouse, and these comments are not indicative of how he has conducted himself while part of our team. He has apologized to me and to the organization for his comments.”
From the Atlanta Braves:
“We are aware of the tweets that surfaced after today’s game and have spoken to Sean who is incredibly remorseful. Regardless of how long ago he posted them, he is aware of the insensitivity and is taking full responsibility.
“We find the tweets hurtful and incredibly disappointing and even though he was 18 or 19 years old when posted, it doesn’t make them any less tolerable. We will work together with Sean towards mending the wounds created in our community.”
In a weird side issue, it appears it wasn’t a coincidence that Turner’s tweets surfaced hours after Newcomb’s, according to the Post. “The offensive messages surfaced after a Nationals-centric Twitter account earlier Sunday dug up racist and homophobic tweets sent by ... Newcomb.”
In another weird side issue, Turner “lends his time to MLB’s ‘Shred Hate’ program, an anti-bullying initiative.” I guess he can use himself as an exhibit from now on.
MLB ordered sensitivity training for Hader, choosing no fine or suspension since the tweets were years before he became a Major-Leaguer. I suspect the same discipline will be imposed on Newcomb and Turner.
I am willing to forgive both Newcomb and Turner for their homophobia as teenagers if they’ve really changed. That seems likely with Turner, but Newcomb’s inadequate response gives me pause. Regardless, neither of them deserve a standing ovation like the one given to Hader by Brewers fans.