Braves starter Sean Newcomb fell one out shy of a no-hitter on Sunday afternoon against the Dodgers. While his no-hit bid was in progress, some Twitter users found some of Newcomb’s older tweets in which he used offensive language including racist and homophobic slurs. Newcomb deleted the tweets once they were discovered, but you can see some screenshots here, courtesy @NatsSquid:
It wasn’t just a couple of tweets in which Newcomb used offensive language. Before the tweets were deleted, a Twitter search of Newcomb’s tweets yielded close to 20 results for a certain f-word slur. This was a regular part of the way he engaged with people on social media.
Newcomb addressed the media after Sunday’s game. Via Kelsey Wingert of Fox Sports South:
This is essentially the same non-apology that Brewers reliever Josh Hader gave when his offensive tweets surfaced during the All-Star Game two weeks ago. “I don’t mean to offend anybody” isn’t an apology and it isn’t an admission of fault. It’s made worse when he uses the ages-old “that’s not who I am” statement. It’s quite possible that Newcomb isn’t a person who still uses such language as a 25-year-old, but it’s a matter of fact that he used that language freely and willingly as a 19-year-old. That’s who he was, at minimum. He is a person who thought it was acceptable to use language minimizing people from marginalized groups.
After Hader’s tweets made the rounds, Major League Baseball “punished‘ him by making him take sensitivity training and to participate in diversity initiatives. It’s likely that Newcomb will get a similar punishment. Major League Baseball — and the Braves — should do more to set an example and to show fans of color and LGBTQ communities that athletes using that kind of language will not be tolerated. Demographically, baseball fans are the oldest and whitest of the major sports. Doing nothing about players who speak or have spoken hatefully will only show members of marginalized groups that they are still not welcome.
Of course, the Braves punishing Newcomb for bigoted tweets would come off as hypocritical since they regularly encourage their fans to engage in a racist chant. Let’s get rid of that while we’re at it.