New York Times sports columnist Michael Powell attacked Milwaukee Brewer’s pitcher Josh Hader from the front of Friday’s Sports section, for old racist social media posts recently unearthed from several years ago, written when Hader was 17: “As Baseball Gets Whiter, an Ovation Follows Racist Tweets.”
Powell was unforgiving of the teen-aged Hader, who has apologized and will take “sensitivity training,” and went full sociological on white baseball fans, even mentioning Trump in a story about tweets sent in 2011 and 2012.
We live in an age of unbridled white id.
Many days it is anything goes, baby, from the White House to the baseball stands; objecting often draws a scornful wave of the hand and a lecture on political correctness.
The latest eruption comes courtesy of Josh Hader, a 24-year-old white relief pitcher with a smoking fastball and a Twitter account filled with hideous thoughts typed when he was 17 and 18. A Hader sampler: “White Power, lol” (with an emoji of a clenched fist), “KKK,” and “I hate gay people.” He also used that vilest of words for black people.
This all came to light as Hader pitched in the All-Star Game last week. After the game, he mumbled something about being influenced by rap lyrics. Then he abandoned that tack and began apologizing profusely. “I was 17 years old, and as a child I was immature,” he said, “and obviously I said some things that were inexcusable.”
Point of information: A 17-year-old can drive or serve in the military, and is a year away from voting. That does not describe a child. I’m not unforgiving of youthful stupidity, although it would have been swell if reporters had asked obvious questions: How was it that you attended an integrated high school in exurban Maryland and yet posted racist and homophobic comments? From what sewer line did those sentiments bubble up?
A 17-year-old can indeed serve in the military, but only with parental consent, and he can’t drink alcohol until his next birthday. 25-years-olds are considered children under Obamacare for the purpose of staying under their parents' health insurance plan, so perhaps Powell’s line where “youthful stupidity” ends is not universally accepted.
The more breathtaking moment, however, came nights later when Hader walked to the mound in Milwaukee in his first appearance since the All-Star break. Thousands of fans, nearly all of them white, rose and gave him a standing ovation.
Who knows precisely what was on the mind of each fan who stood? Intelligence often fails to march in step with fandom....
This, however, is a white behavioral moment worth exploring, and I type these words as a lifelong member of that race.
Powell even jumped on his press colleagues.
The Milwaukee news media did no better. As fans rose to clap, a writer from the Journal-Sentinel posted on Twitter: “Josh Hader announced as new Brewers pitcher and gets a nice ovation.”
After pointing out that baseball is losing black players and that “its fan base is the oldest and whitest of the three major American sports,” Powell mocked the sport’s starchy white traditionalism for criticizing the lack of sportsmanship of “bat flips” after homeruns.
Such controversies almost always revolve around black and Latino players....
He took one last cheap shot at Brewers fans:
Like Chicago, New York is a majority minority city. Yet you can sit in the stands at Wrigley or Citi Field some nights and it looks like 1955. In Milwaukee the other night, it even sounded like 1955.
Powell is habitually political in his ostensible sports writing. In 2015 he mourned the continuing survival of the National Rifle Association:
Twenty years ago, the National Rifle Association and the brotherhood of the gun appeared to be on the defensive. A Democratic president had put the association in his cross hairs. Cities and counties and several states sued the gun companies, hoping to drive them into bankruptcy....The N.R.A. is more powerful than ever, its once ceaseless internal wars having long ago subsided.