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Hok Talk: An Epidemic of Ugly Tweets

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WARNING: This post contains images with offensive words.

Whit Merrifield dives for a ball and misses
Whit Merrifield makes mistakes.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Social media exists for the sole purpose of sharing our thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts are as mundane as what we had for dinner, last night. Sometimes they are as touching as a baby’s first birthday party. And sometimes they are far, far darker.

Josh Hader says some misogynistic things.

Social media is barely in its infancy, by the standards of human existence. Facebook is not even 15 years old, yet. When I was a teenager, Xanga blogs were all the rage amongst my peers and myself. Xanga started in 1999; less than 20 years ago. So it makes sense that we, as a society, are still trying to figure out how the heck to use it without shooting ourselves in our proverbial feet. This medium exists for expressing thoughts but there are some thoughts which should not be expressed and some people are only now discovering that.

Heath Fillmyer uses a racial slur.

As time has gone on we are now reaching the point of history where some of the more popular social media outlets have existed since adults were teenagers. Teenagers are known for being idiots and now there can be a permanent record of their idiocy that simply did not exist, before. During the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, it came to light that Brewers All-Star reliever Josh Hader had had some pretty idiotic thoughts as a teenager.

Brad Keller tweets a homophobic slur.

You can make the argument that teenagers say stupid things, and that is true. But even teenagers should know better than some of the things he said. The far more stunning revelation, however, is that Hader is far from alone with this particular brand of bad decision making. It turns out that pro baseball players from all over have been tweeting out these horrid things. And not all of them quit once they left teenagerhood.

Whit Merrifield uses a pejorative that describes a person with mental disabilities.

Former Red Sox and Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling is rapidly becoming one of many instead of the crazy outlier. Don’t get me wrong, he is still an outlier in his continued and persistent abuses of the human intellect with his hatred, but it turns out there are plenty of guys who are more than willing to tweet out gay slurs, racial slurs, and other bigoted remarks. By Wednesday evening twitter sleuths everywhere were discovering this putrid underbelly. The remarks are everywhere from the RoyalsWhit Merrifield to the Angels’ Mike Trout. Some of my fellow Royals Review writers did some cursory searches and discovered that several other current Royals and Royals minor leaguers had similar posts in their history. This is not an isolated incident. It is an epidemic.

Mike Trout uses the word “gay” as a casual insult.

I think it is telling how people have responded to this. By far the most common reaction, even from the stoutest of the Social Justice Warriors was, “Why doesn’t baseball tell them to go back and delete these? Why don’t their agents have interns searching for this stuff?” That reaction is even more bothersome to me than the fact that the tweets exist. How can our first reaction be to suggest that they need to cover it up better? How can we further suggest that it is the responsibility of some organization to do so for these players instead of at least demanding that they take responsibility for cleaning up their own messes? I even saw one loyal Royals fan tweeting replies to the more offensive historical posts by those employed by the organization trying to help them out.

Heath Fillmyer made an offensive tweet. Another twitter user attempts to alert him to his peril.

None of us are perfect. We should all strive to do better. But part of doing better means owning up to our mistakes. Josh Hader closed off his twitter account and offered an apology couched in excuses. Baseball players everywhere are frantically searching their twitter histories or considering entirely deleting their own accounts. This is not ownership of mistakes. This is a giant cover-up. At this moment baseball players are just like so many others in our country: pretending that if they just ignore it long enough it will go away.

Jakob Junis uses a homophobic slur.

And, just like with so many other scandals in our country, once the tweets are deleted and some time has passed and baseball has been played again everyone will move on. Players have learned a lesson costly to Josh Hader - though not too costly; he’s too good at baseball for that! - that they cannot just leave their dirty laundry lying around, anymore. Of course, actually washing it would take some effort. So, instead, they will just hide it. The same way they have always done. The same way we have always done.