Fan who allegedly yelled racial slur at Carl Crawford is a police officer, could lose his job

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Remember last week when a fan allegedly yelled racist stuff at Carl Crawford during a rehab game in New Hampshire? Well, the next day the fan took to the Internet and called in to a radio station to defend himself. And in doing so, he seems to have outed himself.

Turns out he’s a Leominster, Massachusetts police officer. One who, as you’ll see below, has apparently had a tragic past year, and now, in light of the Crawford business, could lose his job:

Leominster authorities launched an internal investigation into whether one of the city’s police officers is the heckler responsible for shouting a racial slur at Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford during a minor league game last week in Manchester, N.H. … Leominster officials opened the investigation earlier this week after receiving a number of tips and complaints.

The mayor of Leominster says in this NECN report that the officer could lose his job over this.

Reader BigLeagues passed those links along to me, as well as some stuff from last week I missed about who this police officer is.  When he called in to WEEI the day after the alleged incident to defend himself, he identified himself as “Thomas,” and said he didn’t yell any slurs at Crawford, only heckled him over being a big money, no production ballplayer. In the comments section to the WEEI story, he used the name “Thomas Johnson” and “Tom from NH.”  The comment name links to a Facebook page under the name “Thomas Johnson” with a police department patch as its avatar, but not a Leominster one.*

BigLeagues was curious about this story and did some Googling.  He tells me that on WEEI, Thomas/Tom from NH/Thomas Johnson said he was 32 years-old, raced cars in his spare time and, last fall, he and his wife suffered the loss of his baby son.  A search by BigLeagues reveals this story about a Thomas Johnson who is 32 years-old, lives in a New Hampshire town about 30 miles from Leominster, races cars and lost his son last fall. Sounds like the same dude.

What to make of all of this? I don’t know. It’s unclear if this guy yelled slurs at Crawford (the reports reveal this to be a Crawford’s word against Thomas Johnson’s word thing at the moment). If he did, he might get fired. And if it’s the same guy from that last story, I think it’s safe to say that he’s having an awful year and probably could use help from someone.

*A Twitter follower tells me that the police patch on Thomas Johnson’s Facebook page is from Greenland, New Hampshire. This spring four officers were shot, and the police chief killed, in a shootout in Greenland back in April, which presumably makes the Facebook pic a tribute. Gosh, this is all kinds of horrible.

(big thanks and props to BigLeagues for handing me all of this stuff)

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.