Looking deeper at Luke Scott

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Luke Scott caused a stir back in December when, during an interview with Dave Brown of Yahoo!’s Big League Stew, his belief that President Obama wasn’t born in America came out into the open.  This piqued the interest of Amy K. Nelson of ESPN, who spent some time with Orioles’ outfielder Luke Scott this spring. Her story is up today.  After recounting the birther stuff, she makes this observation:

Given all that, the simple assumption is that Scott is a right-wing nut, a borderline racist and a loudmouth redneck ballplayer who should keep his mouth shut. But it’s not that simple. Luke Scott will require a deeper line of thinking.

I think “deeper line of thinking” is the key phrasing here, because I don’t think Luke Scott is misunderstood. Just not fully understood.

Indeed, what we learned about Scott in the aftermath of the birther fiasco and in the early part of Nelson’s article is accurate, as far as it goes. While “nut” is a loaded term (each side of the spectrum has ’em), Scott is clearly right wing, and he admits that. He’s clearly a loudmouth, as his teammates freely — and amusingly — admit.  Borderline racist? Depends on how you define it, but the fact that Scott needed a handler during the interview to remind him to be careful with how he spoke about race  — and his use of the term “savage” when talking to a black Dominican teammate about his behavior — at least gives one pause.

None of which means that he should keep his mouth shut or that he’s a bad person. Being right wing was, last I checked, still allowed in this country. So too is being ignorant, as Scott’s apparent belief that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. makes clear (he doesn’t back off those statements here).

Am I 100% comfortable with Scott’s views on race? Not really, but I don’t know that he or anyone else should care. He’s not my son’s civics teacher. His teammates and the people close to him don’t have a problem with him. Personally speaking, I  grew up with a lot of people like Scott. Even at its most uncomfortable, the stuff they say and believe doesn’t necessarily come from hate, even if it does reflect real beliefs and even if it is ignorant.

And perhaps the biggest reason Luke Scott doesn’t bother me is revealed in what Orioles’ GM Andy MacPhail says about him:

“I’ve met a lot of people in this game who will say the right thing every time,” he says, “but maybe not act in a manner that is the most laudatory. Luke’s the opposite.”

Luke Scott says and believes crazy stuff. He keeps 114 guns in a small, temporary apartment. I’m guessing only a small segment of the HBT readership would be able to find much political, social or personal common ground with Scott.  The fact that he happens to be a good guy doesn’t change that he’s kind of wacky and the fact that he’s kind of wacky doesn’t change that he’s a good guy. Everyone is more than their political and social beliefs, and no one outside of the most cartoonish fictional villains are good or evil, black or white.

Scott is kind of a knucklehead who I’m not sure I’d invite to dinner. He’s also got a lot more complexity and likability to him than we’d expect based on how some people portrayed him after his comments to Dave Brown.  I guess what I’m saying is that nobody really knows anyone all that well, and just because he put his worst foot forward back in December doesn’t mean it wasn’t a true part of him, nor does it explain everything about him.

The same goes for most people, actually. And it’s kind of sad that we forget that so often.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.