In what felt like an inevitable continuation of a sad series of stories, Sonny Gray has been the latest MLB player to have offensive social media posts rediscovered. Shortly after his disastrous start on Wednesday afternoon, a 2012 tweet was unearthed that, at best, casts the pitcher in a very ignorant light.
Please note that some readers may want to skip over the embedded tweet, as it can offend or insult:
This is a disappointment, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. As much as we like to pretend that our team and our players are above things like this, everyone’s human. After the Josh Hader tweets broke these kind of stories open, it was only a matter of time before one or more Yankees were discovered having done the same thing.
For what it’s worth, Gray himself released this statement. If I’m being honest, it’s Gray’s response that makes me the most upset about this whole story. Instead of taking this as an opportunity to own up to mistakes, be accountable for what he’s said, and work on a way forward, he’s chosen to deflect and ignore the ramifications that his words as a professional athlete carry.
Uncovering offensive social media posts is, sadly, not an uncommon thing right now. Therefore, it’s impossible to avoid comparisons between how players and organizations react. A couple of days ago, Trea Turner went through this exact same thing, and I think his response was the archetype for what players should do:
Unlike so many other responses we’ve seen, Turner understands that brushing something off as being “part of my past” and “making me a better man” isn’t being accountable for what you do or say. The problem with these social media posts isn’t so much that they get posted, but that people have these kind of thoughts in the first place. Twitter and Facebook is just the conduit for them to release racist, sexist, or homophobic thoughts into the universe.
Kids are stupid and say things without thinking about the consequences. I had times when I was younger where I told my parents I hated them, or talked behind my friend’s back. But it’s important to distinguish those kind of things from examples like Gray, where the “joke” comes at the expense of people and communities that are already marginalized and playing on an uneven field.
I don’t know what the corrective action from the league should be. I’m not a person of color, so I can’t speak to how this personally offends me. I’m let down that a player I enjoy and have defended publicly before can say, and more importantly think, things that are this indefensible.