It was a gut wrenching scene last Friday night as Josh Hader took the mound for the first time since racist, homophobic, and bigoted tweets surfaced.
Those tweets reappeared during his first MLB All-Star appearance a week ago. They were disgusting, vile and disturbing.
As a fan who also happens to be gay, seeing your favorite player’s name attached to a tweet explaining how much he hates gay people is disheartening to say the least. Possibly even more disheartening was as Josh Hader took the mound for the first time, he received a standing ovation.
In today’s America, an African American player will protest rampant injustice and prejudice in our criminal justice system and get booed, called expletives by the President and get threatened with fines and suspensions. A white athlete seems to have been, and possibly still is, a racist and bigot, and he receives a chorus of applause.
Personally, I believe the standing ovation was way too far. But I can see where at least some of those fans are coming from.
Prior to the game that day, after a closed door meeting in which Hader tearfully apologized to his teammates and members of the organization, he also spoke to the media. His teammates had his back.
One apology will not fix anything. As MLB VP Billy Bean stated after hours of speaking and educating Hader, “We can’t fix everything today.”
After hearing what Bean and Hader’s teammates said and seeing their actions, it is but the best of human nature that moves people to first truly apologize, as Hader did, and then for others to forgive and hope for a change.
There are many steps Hader needs to take, and he surely will as the MLB mandates he go through sensitivity training and has mandated him to partake in the MLB’s numerous diversity and inclusion initiatives. But for many people and fans of color, those who may be LGBT or anyone who was rightfully offended by the horrendous tweets, it will take time, yes, but more than that it will take real action.
Which is why a standing ovation just days after is jarring.
People are right to want to forgive and hope for redemption, but people are wrong to cheer for a man who tweeted what Hader did. The beliefs and things he said years ago seem so quintessentially un-American, but yet are much too common in America.
People are right to want to hold someone like Hader accountable and cringe at those giving a standing ovation to him, but people are wrong to not hope Hader can earn his forgiveness.
Everyone is right, yet everyone is wrong – and I guess that is today’s America.