John Rocker pitched 4 more years after his infamous Sports Illustrated interview, which is different from the Josh Hader situation in a few ways, but the general sentiment and subsequent fallout remains the same: people who use their platforms to reveal the hatred within necessarily alienate themselves from community.
There’s no question that Hader’s statements/opinions/tweets reflect an angry, racist, immature person born of a culture that celebrates all those things. There’s no question that he’s only ashamed because he got caught. It’s no surprise that the Brewers fans gave him a standing ovation in his first appearance after the All-Star Break, but Sports Illustrated believes that super-progressive San Francisco will not be so welcoming this weekend.
We like to think that San Francisco, the Bay Area, and California in general is a progressive oasis from this oftentimes cruel, usually conservative, and largely tribalistic country/world, but deep down, I think we know that’s kinda bullshit. San Francisco won’t no platform Hader like he was about to speak at Cal and they won’t cheer him. Mostly, they won’t care.
And, to some degree, I think that’s the better option. Why acknowledge him? Booing him when he strikes out the side in 3 of the 4 games will probably have the opposite effect anyway — people like him will take it to mean that the fans are just mad he got the best of them and their team. Racists who live their lives filled with anger and consumed by themselves can only revel in other people’s pain, whether or not they inflict it personally.
I’ve said it before: pitchers are narcissists and they take pleasure in inflicting pain and asserting their supremacy. Josh Hader didn’t get where he is because he’s a kind and compassionate man. He’s a bad person who throws a 95 mph fastball with his left hand. That’s all he is and very likely all he’ll ever be. The money and long career will see to that.
Part of the reason we are so upset is because there are too many injustices in the world. We don’t know what a “proper” punishment for him and this situation could possibly be, but we’re closer to seeing “justice” done here than anywhere else in a world out of our control. It’s a lot easier (and faster) to take down a dumb jock than racist regimes and institutions.
Ending Josh Hader’s career won’t make people stop being racist and homphobic, but it will be the first pitch in a good long while to brush racists and homophobes off the plate (the plate, in this metaphor, is civilization).
Major League Baseball is an organization built around a game. Everything about it is arbitrary. The punishment can be whatever the Commissioner and Players’ Union wants it to be. But we’ve already seen how both entities want things to be: hard for everyone except the very top of the pyramid. In this case, though, attacking Hader threatens that top of the pyramid. Probably a healthy majority of veteran players and owners feel as Hader does.
Major League Baseball loves to trot out the whole Jackie Robinson angle and its commitment to diversity, but it’s empty. Not even calculated. Just empty. And I’m sure I’m not alone in my frustration with that; but, it’s still easier to rattle a sports league’s cage to get them to do something than it is to rattle elected officials to do the right thing. Sports fans are closer to being a lobbyist in MLB Headquarters than the layperson is in D.C.
A long, winding, unnecessary post to say, if you feel like it, boo Josh Hader this weekend. You don’t have to, of course, but booing is fine. And good. It won’t be because he’s not on your team or because he makes a lot of money (the usual reasons fans boo and the usual reasons why Good & Smart Fans are above booing) — it’ll be because he represents everything wrong with our culture. Plus, we boo Dodgers when they, like, hit a single in the 2nd inning. Surely, Giants fans have boos to spare for racist, sexist, homophobes.
Booing him won’t change who he is or what MLB is or send a life-altering message, but until we as a culture figure out a better way to handle our problems, let’s at least try to handle our problems. Booing him doesn’t make you look bad or immature, it makes you look like a fan who’s trying to communicate something. He knows why you’re booing him.
Josh Hader didn’t come up with these ideas of his all by himself and just because he got caught and is now contrite doesn’t mean there won’t be people who feel as he does/did or that those ideas won’t exist at large over time. We live in a racist country. We live in a sexist country. We live in a homophobic country. We are ruled by fear of the other. To be ruled by fear is a weakness. We are as strong as the weakest among us, and hoooooly shit, are there a lot of weak people in this country. But not all of them throw 95.