Milwaukee Brewers relief Pitcher Josh Hader got a standing ovation when he walked to the mound in Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Milwaukee’s Miller Park. The ovation was not for anything athletic that Hader had done. If fact, perhaps not for anything at all he had done. It was almost certainly a demonstration of contempt for the shabby way Hader has been dealt with by Major League Baseball’s thought police.
For those not following the story, someone dug up some old tweets made by Hader while he was in high school. The tweets are said to be racist, homophobic, and misogynistic. They may well be, though after quite a bit of nubbing around online I’ve not been able to turn up the tweets themselves, just lots of stories about how vile they are. Let’s just assume they are.
Hader has fallen all over himself apologizing for the tweets, saying that he was young and stupid when he made them when he was 17 and that they in no way reflect the man he is today. There’s no reason not to believe him. But this didn’t stop MLB from sentencing him to re-education camp — both sensitivity training and to participate in “diversity and inclusion initiatives,” whatever these might be. He was also in effect sent to the principal’s office, where all naughty boys must go. In this case it was the office of Billy Bean, MLB’s vice president for social responsibility and inclusion.
Assuming that Hader’s comments were as bad as those wringing their hands about them claim, I hold no brief for them. But how many of us would like to be judged by what we thought, said, and did in high school? Who knows? Perhaps even something Billy Bean said or did in high school would not look so wholesome by today’s standards. And if we find a flaw in his past, whose office do we send him to?
How dreary that Major League Baseball feels the need to have a vice president for social responsibility and inclusion. Sounds like an office in the Kremlin. There is absolutely no evidence that, in the case of players (anyone with the talent to play the game at the highest level) or in the case of fans (anyone with the price of a ticket), anyone is excluded from Major League Baseball. And weren’t all major league sports more enjoyable and more unifying when sports leagues considered it their responsibility to put on entertaining athletic contests but didn’t consider it their business to punish employees who hold improper thoughts?