Steve Clevenger Claims to Have Grown Since Insensitive Tweets
Late last season at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, and with 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick grabbing headlines for kneeling during the National Anthem, backup catcher Steve Clevenger shared his thoughts on both matters via Twitter. He is now without a job in baseball.
When I saw the recent Yahoo! Sports article about Clevenger saying he isn’t a racist, I clicked on the link because I had forgotten all about him. After giving the article a quick read I took his words as a guy looking for a job.
Clips like, “I want people to know who I really am as a person” and, “[My tweets] angered a lot of people. And I’m sorry for it. I can only ask for forgiveness,” had me thinking this was the same tired re-hash apology that celebrities and athletes use when their hand is caught in the cookie jar.
In case you have forgotten about Clevenger’s comments, here they are from the Yahoo article.
[Black Lives Matter] is pathetic once again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals.” The second: “Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black officer haha s*** cracks me up! Keep kneeling for the Anthem!”
After being suspended after the tweets went viral at the end of September, he was removed from the Mariners 40-man roster and has since elected free agency. Jeff Passan also notes that a few teams have reached out to Clevenger, but none have offered even a minor league deal.
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He sounds like just another athlete that messed up and is begging for forgiveness so that his way of life isn’t ruined–and he probably is. But there are some redeeming factors here for Steve Clevenger, the way I see it.
This winter he has engaged with black people both inside and outside of the game to get a better perspective of their view of society, seeking lists of films to watch about their struggles, and seeing “why his tweets were wrong.”
With the work that he has put in, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he has learned a little bit and won’t act up again. He has been faced with losing his way of life and has shaped up, and I commend that.
Do I completely believe that his views have been rehabilitated? Hell no. But I don’t think that he’ll be taking to Twitter any time soon with that kind of a message either.
By the time spring training really gets going, teams will start looking for some extra depth options to fill out their minor league rosters, and Clevenger will likely get a shot somewhere. His hardest task will be winning over a new fan base, and that may be no easy task. While players like Aroldis Chapman and Jose Reyes have also had controversy follow them in recent years, their issues did not denote a political nature whatsoever. It’s easier to look the other way as fans when there is one person that is victimized, opposed to an entire race.
The question that I am left pondering is whether or not one player’s actions can keep enough fans away from a baseball team to make a difference to the owners. Baseball players did not speak up much last season when the BLM protests were occurring, so there is a chance that the addition of someone like Clevenger will get some heat from the media for a few days, then die down, with his fate ultimately being determined by how he performs on the field. Then again, in today’s political climate I’m not sure what to expect from the players.
What do you think about the effect one player can have on a 25-man squad?