Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader’s first career MLB All-Star Game appearance went far differently than anyone expected. He struggled mightily and allowed a home run to Mariners’ shortstop Jean Segura. But, it turned out to be seven-year-old tweets that made Hader the biggest story in D.C..
Children don’t generally dream about the MLB All-Star Game. They dream about the world series, about game seven, about the major leagues. The All-Star Game is a rite of passage. A certificate of achievement that comes to mean more as a player grows older.
It means a lot to be selected as one of the best in the game. Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader is one of the best in the game. He entered the All-Star break with an incredible 89 strikeouts in 48 innings. He had an ERA of 1.50 and was the bullpen ace of the playoff-contending Milwaukee Brewers.
Normally, the All-Star game is the opportunity to show off the greatest players in the game to each fanbase. But, a dumb decision and a much more concerning thought process took that away from him.
Now, most people do not think of strikeouts when they hear Josh Hader.
While Hader pitched on Tuesday night, tweets he had posted roughly seven years ago went viral. They revealed a troubling pattern of racism, misogyny, and homophobia. Soon after he was removed from the game, the tweets were deleted and his account made private.
After the game, Hader withstood the barrage of press at his locker and answered their questions. Offering an apology for his tweets and said there was “no excuse” for what he said. Yesterday, the MLB commissioner’s office announced that Hader will go through sensitivity training as recourse for the tweets.
By now, many players, pundits, and fans have forgiven Hader. The murky nature of seven-year-old tweets makes it easier to absolve him. Hader said there were “no excuses” and that there is “nothing” about those views that he still holds. However, it ignores the bulk of his statement, which leaves a lot more room for questions.
For one, he contradicted his point that there were “no excuses” for what he tweeted. Near the end of his post-game press gathering he mentioned, “rap lyrics” as a possible reason for the tweets.
I won’t get into whether or not in some cases Hader was quoting rap or not. Even if he was, Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of many who explains the problem with pop-culture as an excuse to say anything.
Regardless, Hader also tweeted, “KKK,” “I hate gay people,” “White power lol,” and other more explicit tweets disparaging women that stand alone. Let’s not get this twisted. He tweeted racist, homophobic, and misogynistic statements and sometimes found pop-culture to use as a vehicle to do it some more.
An even more troubling excuse was a common thread of his three-minutes of post-game comments. He mentioned his youth-he was 17-at the time of the tweets a number of times and culminated that sentiment, “I was young, immature, and stupid.”
More from Call to the Pen
- Philadelphia Phillies, ready for a stretch run, bomb St. Louis Cardinals
- Philadelphia Phillies: The 4 players on the franchise’s Mount Rushmore
- Boston Red Sox fans should be upset over Mookie Betts’ comment
- Analyzing the Boston Red Sox trade for Dave Henderson and Spike Owen
- 2023 MLB postseason likely to have a strange look without Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals
He’s not the only one. The “he was only seventeen” excuse is an easy one. But, it actually doesn’t apply. If we accept that Hader was young, immature, and stupid than we are accepting that racism, homophobia, and misogyny are somehow caused by youth, immaturity, and stupidity.
Stupidity is a maybe, but psychologists have shown over and over again that prejudice is something children learn not something innate. Immaturity is defined as, “behavior that is appropriate to someone younger.” But, do we accept bigotry in our younger people?
In reality, these are not excuses for prejudice. They are excuses for sharing that prejudice. Society deems it stupid and immature for someone to share unpopular thoughts. Those are excuses for the choice to tweet not for what he tweeted and that distinction seems small, but creates a valley between true reformation and another punishment free absolution.
Look at the media coverage. ESPN has already published an article listing Hader among “the long list who have been burned by social media.” Hader was not burned by social media, his own bigotry sowed this seed.
If Hader wants to show the Milwaukee Brewers and the public that he truly has changed, he needs to explain what made him change. This is a process. You do not go to bed a bigot and wake up without prejudice. But, so far, Hader has only given us that much to believe.