It wasn’t a good night for Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader.
On the night of his first All-Star appearance, he would surrender a go-ahead three-run dinger to former Brewer Jean Segura. But his night would get much worse from there. Eventually some of his old tweets would surface — tweets from 2011-12, when Hader was 17-18 years old. Keep his age in mind, because people predictably pointed to that to defend the garbage you’re about to see.
Warning: What follows below contains offensive language
Three separate tweets from these included “I hate gay people”, “KKK” and “gay people freak me out…”
And Hader, predictably, is pointing to the fact that at the time he was just a dumb kid. Per Yahoo’s Jeff Passan:
“I was young, immature and stupid. … That was seven years ago. I don’t remember too far back then. I was in high school. We’re still learning who we are in high school. You live and you learn…”
The ‘young, immature and stupid’ fallback excuse isn’t good enough. It’s an excuse and that’s all it is. Not once does he say something along the lines of ‘I apologize to women, people of color, the LGBTQ community…’ and so on. Not once does he specify anything. Instead he fell back on ol’ reliable. Women, POC, the LGBTQ community — they’re all kids at one point in their lives too. Do fans defending Hader with their ‘just being a kid’ rhetoric defend these marginalized groups with the same vigor when they’re ‘just kids’ as well?
A lot of us say dumb stuff when we’re younger. But it’s a pretty steep drop from dumb stuff to “white power lol” — another tweet of his that was found last night. It also doesn’t help that his girlfriend, Maria Macias, also locked her account after people found numerous tweets of her dropping the N-word and saying “faggot” repeatedly. It’s a pretty steep drop from dumb stuff to “I hate gay people.” If Hader has changed like he says he has, now is the time to show it. Now is the time to apologize to these communities directly. A cursory response solely for the fact that Hader was caught does nothing and serves nobody that is genuinely affected by these words.
Christ, when I was 17 I was posting whiny song lyrics online because I couldn’t get a date. Even seven years ago, when I was in my early 20s, I posted what I thought were profound statements that in reality were just extremely dumb and cringe-inducing. Facebook still reminds me of these updates on a daily basis. I tweeted about CM Punk incessantly. That’s what ‘dumb stuff’ looks like. What Hader posted isn’t just some random dumb stuff. It is racism, misogyny and homophobia. And he has to own it.
Because of his own actions, he’s put himself in a position where he has to show the community that he’s changed. If he doesn’t, then the Milwaukee Brewers organization and Major League Baseball as a whole will have failed. Yuli Gurriel had to go to MLB-mandated sensitivity training for his racist gesture towards Yu Darvish in last year’s World Series. He didn’t face suspension during the series, and the training lasted a handful of hours. Hopefully the league does a better job with Hader’s training, but it’s difficult to be optimistic. The league clearly doesn’t know how to handle these cases, and this certainly won’t be the last one.
Following the All-Star Game, reporters also asked Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress, Hader’s Brewer and All-Star teammates, for their thoughts. Both Cain and Jeffress would downplay his past tweets as mistakes, but there are a couple of issues at play here. For starters, Cain and Jeffress don’t owe Hader absolution. That burden is absolutely NOT on them. Secondly, POC have to deal with this type of stuff all the time. It’s not their responsibility to come to the aid of their white teammate who said a bunch of stupid things, and we’ve got to stop putting that on them.
And, it’s important to remember that clubhouse culture is and has been incredibly forever. Bigotry has been around baseball for a long time. We have to understand that his teammates’ comments exist within that context. Because something tells me that if either Cain or Jeffress would’ve thrown Hader under the bus last night, fans would be more upset with them this morning than with Hader. And that’s bullshit. It’s not on the marginalized groups to address the vitriol directed at them on a consistent basis. This shouldn’t be difficult to understand.
But let’s get back to the root of this “apology” from Hader one more time — young, stupid and immature — and couple that with his quote to Andy McCullough of the LA Times:
“When you’re a kid, you tweet what’s on your mind,” he said.’”
First off, “white power lol” and “I hate gay people” is what’s on your mind? Secondly, you’re not a ‘kid’ or ‘child’ at 17. You’re not a full-grown adult, of course, but this is such a tired excuse. At that age you need to know better. You’re old enough to take responsibility for your actions. Racism isn’t a youthful mistake. It’s racism. Homophobia isn’t a youthful mistake. It’s homophobia. Misogyny isn’t a youthful mistake. It’s misogyny.
People can change; views can change. But Hader got off on the wrong foot with this non-apology. He needs to do better. His next steps will be very important. He needs to go out into the community and reach out to the groups of people affected by these types of comments. Through his words and future actions, Hader needs to give us the sense that he’s changed. He cannot just brush this aside.
Women, POC and the LGBTQ community have to deal with bigotry on a daily basis. They are constantly being alienated. They are constantly made to feel as though the sport they love doesn’t love them back. It’s not on them to make people who harbor (or harbored) these views better. That’s not how any of this works. It’s on those who made these views public — Hader, in this case — to take responsibility and try to change. It’s on Hader to educate himself and realize that not only what he said is wrong, but why what he said is wrong.
In that regard, he’s off to a rocky start.