Competitors squawk, but MLBPA unlikely to punish ACES for Biogenesis clients

6 Comments

I reported yesterday that, despite the fact that the majority of the players disciplined in the Biogenesis scandal are (or were) represented by the Levinson brothers’ ACES agency, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA was unlikely to take any disciplinary action against the agency. The reason: there is no evidence suggesting that the agency was aware that its players were utilizing Biogenesis. Rather, it was a former consultant, Juan Carlos Nunez, who served as the vector between the clinic and the players. ACES was censured by the MLBPA for its failure to supervise Nunez and Nunez has been fired.

Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish writes today, however, that competing agencies are not happy about this, and quotes many of ACES’ competitors calling for it to be disciplined. They are skeptical of the claim that Nunez was some rogue and all claim that, even if the union doesn’t do anything to punish them, they will lose clients through natural attrition and the sense among players that ACES was a bad actor in the Biogenesis affair.

Which, OK, everyone is entitled to an opinion on this. And yes, it looks pretty bad that one agency was so well-represented.  But I’ll observe that these are competitors to ACES talking and there is nothing that brings out sports agents’ teeth like some blood in the water.

Most fans don’t pay attention to the back-and-forth between agents that goes on, but those who do know that every time one agency is in the news for something even remotely negative, other agents come out of the woodwork to pile on. Ask Paul Kinzer about the coverage he got when he got into a public tiff with Francisco Rodriguez. Ask Scott Boras when he had clients still unsigned late into spring training in the past couple of years. There are always stories quoting competing agents when that stuff happens, talking about how the guy in the spotlight really isn’t doing his clients right. With the implicit statement that his clients should and will shop around for new representation. For cryin’ out loud, we now have (quasi) agents recording dis tracks about their perceived competition. It’s a brutal business.

None of which is to say that the ire at ACES isn’t natural and even understandable. They aren’t likely to be penalized by MLBPA over it all, but one can see how it other agents might be bent out of shape.  It is to say, though, that I’d be way more surprised if ACES’ competitors didn’t come after them than to see what they’re saying now. That would be truly unusual.

Brewers won’t punish Josh Hader for offensive tweets

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
15 Comments

Some old tweets of Josh Hader‘s surfaced during the All-Star Game on Tuesday, containing offensive and hateful language. Major League Baseball responded by ordering Hader to attend sensitivity training and attend diversity initiatives.

The Brewers won’t punish Hader themselves, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. GM David Stearns says the club is taking its lead from MLB, which has already handed down its punishment to Hader. Additionally, the Brewers’ lack of punishment has to do with the tweets occurring when Hader was younger — 17 years old — and not involved with professional baseball.

Stearns also said of Hader’s tweets, “I don’t think they’re representative of who he is. I think they’re offensive. I think they’re ill-informed and ignorant but I don’t think they represent who he is as a person right now.” Stearns added, “I don’t know how he’s going to work through it. The truth is he has put himself in this situation. And he’s going to have to work very hard to get through it.”

Hader apologized on Wednesday, saying, “I was 17 years old, and as a child I was immature, and obviously I said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today.” Hader said, “I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve said. I’m ready for any consequences that happen for what happened seven years ago.”

Lorenzo Cain, a black outfielder and teammate of Hader’s, said, “I know Hader; he’s a great guy. I know he’s a great teammate. I’m fine. Everybody will be O.K. We’ll move on.” Cain further defended Hader, saying, “We’ve all said crazy stuff growing up, even when we were 17, 18 years old. If we could follow each other around with a recorder every day, I’m sure we all said some dumb stuff. We’re going to move on from this.”

First baseman Jesús Aguilar also came to Hader’s defense:

However, Aguilar also retweeted a tweet from Scott Wheeler of The Athletic which had screencaps of Royals 2B/OF Whit Merrifield and Angels outfielder Mike Trout using the word “gay” pejoratively in tweets. Merrifield also used the word “retard” pejoratively.

The “he was 17” defense rings hollow. At 17 years old, one is able to join the military, get a full driver’s license (in many states), apply for student loans, and get married (in some states). Additionally, one is not far off from being able to legally buy cigarettes and guns. Given all of these other responsibilities we give to teenagers, asking them not to use racial and homophobic slurs is not unreasonable. Punishing them when they do so is also not unreasonable.

A study from several years ago found that black boys are viewed as older and less innocent than white boys. A similar study from last year found that black girls are viewed as less innocent than white girls. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Cameron Tillman, among many others, never got the benefit of the doubt that Hader and countless other white kids have gotten and continue to get in our society. When we start giving the same benefit of the doubt to members of marginalized groups, then we can break out the “but he was only 17” defense for Hader.

We also need to ask ourselves what our inaction regarding Hader’s words will say to members of those marginalized communities. Will it tell them that we value the comfort of those in power above everyone else? Will it tell members of marginalized groups that they are not welcome? In this case, it absolutely will. It communicates the message that, as long as you are white and can perform athletic feats, there’s no level of bigotry the league won’t tolerate. Furthermore, as the league and its 30 individual teams make more efforts towards inclusiveness with events like “Pride Night,” the inaction comes off as two-faced and hypocritical. This is why Major League Baseball — and the Brewers — should have done more to respond to Hader’s tweets.