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Trea Turner the latest player to have his ugly tweets uncovered

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First it was Josh Hader. Then it was Sean Newcomb. Now Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner has become the latest major leaguer to have old, ugly tweets uncovered.

The tweets, which were revealed late last night, were sent in 2011 and 2012 while he was playing ball at North Carolina State University. They primarily involve homophobic slurs, referring to friends or others derogatorily as “fa***t” or “gay” and repeating a racially-insentive line from the movie “White Chicks.” If you’re interested, you can see them here. They have since been deleted from Twitter, but nothing ever really disappears on the Internet.

Turner issued a statement through the Nationals apologizing for his tweets.

“There are no excuses for my insensitive and offensive language on Twitter. I am sincerely sorry for those tweets and apologize wholeheartedly,” Turner said. “I believe people who know me understand those regrettable actions do not reflect my values or who I am. But I understand the hurtful nature of such language and am sorry to have brought any negative light to the Nationals organization, myself or the game I love.”

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo also released a statement on Sunday night:

“I have spoken with Trea regarding the tweets that surfaced earlier tonight. He understands that his comments – regardless of when they were posted – are inexcusable and is taking full responsibility for his actions,” Rizzo said. “The Nationals organization does not condone discrimination in any form, and his comments in no way reflect the values of our club. Trea has been a good teammate and model citizen in our clubhouse, and these comments are not indicative of how he has conducted himself while part of our team. He has apologized to me and to the organization for his comments.”

It’s been less than two weeks since this business of players’ old, ugly tweets resurfacing began, but we’ve clearly already fallen into a predictable pattern that will likely be repeated more or less identically when this happens:

1. Tweets uncovered;

2. Player offers apology of moderate-at-best acceptability, with some reference to that not being “who I am,” while not explaining who he was when he made the tweets, why he thought they were acceptable then and what has changed in his life to make him different now, apart from being caught being a jackwagon six or seven years ago;

3. MLB ordering sensitivity training or what have you.

Which, sure, I suppose that’s the only way this sort of thing is likely to go. What seems to be missing in all of this is any discussion of why someone, in the year 2011 or 2012, still felt it was totally OK to say stuff like that publicly and why no one noticed it before now, even if — as was the case with Turner — he was a notable athlete with a pretty high profile, even then.

The answer, I suspect, is that a lot of young athletes — like a lot of young men — are basically idiots who lack empathy for marginalized people and thus feel it’s cool to use slurs and stuff like that so casually. Maybe we should ask ourselves why that’s the case and what we can do about that.

Minor League Baseball teams sold over $70 million in merchandise in 2017

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Every so often here, we discuss the criminally low pay of Minor League Baseball players. Most of them make less than $7,500 a year, which includes the regular season as well as spring training, playoffs, and offseason training. The abysmal pay forces minor leaguers to eat unhealthy food, live in cramped quarters, and forego consistent, quality sleep, among other things.

What makes this situation worse is that Minor League Baseball is a huge money-maker for their parent teams in Major League Baseball. Josh Norris of Baseball America reported yesterday that Minor League Baseball teams sold $70.8 million in merchandise in 2017. That represented a 3.6 percent increase over the previous record set in 2016. This is just merchandise. Now think about concession and ticket sales.

Minor League Baseball COO Brian Earle said, “Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to be among the most popular in all of professional sports, and our teams have made promoting their brand a priority for their respective organizations. The teams have done a tremendous job of using their team marks and logos to build an identity that is appealing to fans not just locally, but in some cases, globally as well.”

You may recall that Major League Baseball had been lobbying Congress to pass legislation exempting minor league players from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Doing so classified baseball players as seasonal workers, which means they are not entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. That legislation passed earlier this year. Minor League Baseball generates profits hand over fist and it is now legally protected from having to share that with the labor that produced it.

Many points of divergence led us to this point, but the question is how do we change it? Minor leaguers are routinely taken advantage of because they don’t have a union. Compare the minors in baseball to the minors in hockey, where minor leaguers have a union. As SB Nation’s Marc Normandin pointed out last month, the minimum salary for American Hockey League players is $45,000 and the average salary is $118,000. They receive a playoff share of around $20,000, and receive health insurance that covers themselves as well as their families. Furthermore, the minor league hockey players’ per diem is $74, about three times as much as minor league baseball players’ per diem of $25.

Major League Baseball and its 30 teams have shown no inclination towards treating minor league players simply out of moral obligation or good will, so the minor leaguers need union coverage to force their conditions to improve. This could be as simple as the MLBPA expanding its coverage to the minor leagues because, after all, some minor leaguers do become major leaguers, right? Or the minor leaguers could themselves create a union. It’s easy to say, but tougher to do, which is why they still don’t have a union.

At any rate, every fan of baseball should be enraged when they read that Minor League Baseball keeps setting records year after year when it comes to selling hats and t-shirts, then refuses to share any of that wealth with the labor responsible for it. It’s morally reprehensible.