Former NBA star Tracy McGrady confirmed Tuesday that he will pursue a pitching career with the Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters this season.
McGrady, who turns 35 in May, played 16 seasons in the NBA and made seven All-Star teams. He wrapped up his career last summer by playing in six postseason games with the Spurs after sitting out the regular season. He led the league in points per game in 2002-03 (32.1) and 2003-04 (28.0).
The Skeeters, who play their games just outside Houston, are managed by former major league All-Star Gary Gaetti and had ex-major leaguers such as Scott Elarton, Jason Lane and Fernando Perez on the team last season. Roger Clemens briefly pitched for the club in 2012.
Clemens recently watched McGrady throw, according to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, and said McGrady wasn’t quite ready for game action as is.
“He’s not there yet,” Clemens said. “[He] needs more time to react to live hitters and calls coming back [toward] him.”
Major League Baseball released a statement about Josh Hader a few minutes ago. Here it is in its entirety:
“During last night’s game we became aware of Mr. Hader’s unacceptable social media comments in years past and have since been in communication with the Brewers regarding our shared concerns. After the game, Mr. Hader took the necessary step of expressing remorse for his highly offensive and hurtful language, which fails to represent the values of our game and our expectations for all those who are a part of it. The Office of the Commissioner will require sensitivity training for Mr. Hader and participation in MLB’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.”
People can parse Hader’s apology if they want to — I wrote about what I feel like Hader needs to say and do to show that his tweets truly are not representative of who he is now — but this is probably about as well as Major League Baseball can do with this. The tweets in question occurred years ago, before Hader was in professional baseball. They even occurred before Major League Baseball had a formal social media policy. MLB attempting some sort of way-after-the-fact punitive action on Hader like a fine or a suspension would (a) be met with some understandable resistance by Hader and the union; and (b) would look more like the league trying to deal with a P.R. crisis more than dealing with the player.
That being said, the sensitivity training and diversity initiative participation makes loads of sense. If, as Hader said last night, he’s a different person now than he was back in 2011-12, he should embrace such activities. They’re positive ones and, hey, who couldn’t use a brush-up? If his claims of being a changed man were merely a reaction to a social media firestorm, well, that’ll be dealt with pretty well in those arenas as well. Either way, this gives Hader an opportunity to put his money where his mouth is.
If you think making Hader do such things is “punishment,” well, that opens up another conversation altogether I suppose.