Injured C Steve Clevenger was suspended without pay for the rest of the season by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto Friday after racist tweets from his account were widely distributed Thursday.
“As soon as we became aware of the tweets posted by Steve yesterday we began to examine all of our options in regard to his standing on the team,” Dipoto said in a club release from Minneapolis. “Today we have informed him that he is suspended for the reminder of the season without pay.”
Clevenger mocked the fatal episode in Charlotte, N.C., in which police shot an African-American man, provoking three nights of civil disturbance.
When the tweets went viral, Clevenger took his account private and later issued an apology via Facebook:
“First and foremost I would like to apologize to the Seattle Mariners, my teammates, my family and the fans of our great game for the distraction my tweets on my personal twitter page caused when they went public earlier today. I am sickened by the idea that anyone would think of me in racist terms. My tweets were reactionary to the events I saw on the news and were worded beyond poorly at best and I can see how and why someone could read into my tweets far more deeply than how I actually feel.
“I grew up on the streets of Baltimore, a city I love to this very day. I grew up in a very culturally diverse area of America and I am very proud to come from there. I am also proud that my inner circle of friends has never been defined by race but by the content of their character. Any former teammate or anyone who has met me can attest to this and I pride myself on not being a judgemental person. I just ask that the public not judge me because of an ill worded tweet.
“I do believe that supporting our First Amendment rights and supporting local law enforcement are not mutually exclusive. With everything going on in the world I really just want what is best for everyone regardless of who they are. I like many Americans are frustrated by a lot of things in the world and I would like to be a part of the dialogue moving forward to make this a better world for everyone.
” I once again apologize to anyone who was offended today and I just ask you not judge me off of a social media posting. Thank you and God bless everyone.”
The apology did not address the targets of his tweets.
Clevenger, 30, has not been with the club since June 30, when he went on the disabled list with a hand broken after he was hit by a pitch. He played 22 games behind starter Chris Iannetta and hit .221 with a homer and seven RBIs. His return to play was further set back by a sore arm he developed during rehab and was not expected to return this season for health reasons.
For hometown Baltimore last season, Clevenger batted .287/.314/.426 with a pair of homers in 105 plate appearances. He is a six-year MLB vet who played with the Cubs (2011-13) and Orioles (2013-15) before coming to Seattle Dec. 2 in a trade for Mark Trumbo, who went on this season to lead the majors in home runs with 43.
MLB set a precedent for suspensions for racist comments in 2000 when John Rocker, the Atlanta Braves closer, was suspended for 73 days for remarks in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
On appeal, the suspension was cut in half.
”Major League Baseball takes seriously its role as an American institution and the important social responsibility that goes with it,” the Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “We will not dodge our responsibility. Mr. Rocker should understand that his remarks offended practically every element of society and brought dishonor to himself, the Atlanta Braves and Major League Baseball.”
Just curious, how likely is it that the player actually worded the apology on his own or if it was provided by the club/agent for him to “sign”?
This reads as if he talked to an agent, who tried his best, but it doesn’t read like a polished, high-end PR job.
So much for free speech. Granted, some of what he said could have been phrased in a better way. But since it does not fit the liberal agenda, he gets suspended.
Is that all you got? Boring day in the hidey-hole?
Free speech potentially comes with a price when you work for an organization. Nobody is denying that Clevenger has a right to be a racist idiot, but the Mariners also have a right to disagree and hopefully waive him.
Free speech in the Constitution refers to a ban on government restriction of speech. Private employers are entitled to impose as they see fit, as long as the employee knows and agrees. And you can’t falsely yell fire in a theater.
Clevenger’s speech is as free as it’s ever been. And the M’s are free to suspend him. That’s called the free market, something that is the Holy Grail to conservatives… until it results in something they don’t like and they twist it into some paranoid “liberal agenda.”
Ugh. How is not saying awful things part of any political agenda? Shouldn’t it just be part of being a decent human being? In any case, wabubba67 (below) and tor5 (above) frame the issue well: we’re all free to say whatever we like, but an organization like the Seattle Mariners (or Major League Baseball) is also free to decide who it wants to represent it.
Too bad the Niners don’t have the guts to cut their second rate second string quarterback for the same reason.
How is sending out ranting racist tweets and making a considered symbolic protest against racism “the same reason”?
Free speech. Ever heard of it?
One is clearly racist (Clevenger), the other silently wants to draw attention to police brutality (Kaepernick). Unless you believe in police brutality, how are you offended?
Our friend doesn’t see brutality. He sees law and order.
My opinion changed on this subject when I saw video of an unarmed, young black male running from the police in South Carolina’s broad daylight…the sheriff’s deputy fatally shot him in the back as though he were a deer in the woods. Sure…just one incident, but difficult to believe that would have happened to a young, white male in South Carolina.
The black community has complained about police brutality for decades. It seems to me that the only difference now is that there are cell phones to factually record incidents that were previously dismissed as rumors and exaggerations. It’s time for our entire society to demand change.
Speaking as a Marine Vietnam vet, AND a retired cop, in most cases I sure don’t see police brutality. In Tulsa someone who may have made a mistake will surely pay for it. In Charlotte, a guy who probably had a gun a refused commands to drop it, well HE sure as hell paid for it. But in Kaepernick, I see a guy who disrespects something I fought for and love. You want to march, then march. You want to disrespect the anthem? F you. Clevenger is an idiot. So is Kaep.
I for one can accept Clevenger’s apology. And I can also see why some are offended by Kaep. But the intent behind their actions seem light years apart. That should be taken into account, in my opinion.
Law prevails over intent.
They both work for organizations whose union-bargained rights for employees includes a workplace that isn’t hostile. Clevenger created grounds for a hostile environment. Kaep did not.
If you say so, Art, but I’d be pretty hostile toward a teammate who refused to stand for the national anthem.
“Awful” is in the ear of the beholder. Michel above is not offended.
He’s free to speak it, the club is free to fire him for conduct unbecoming — it’s in the union contract — and you’re free to defend the indefensible.
Thank you, Seattle Mariners. I am not sure I could continue to support the team if they had they not taken this action. Maybe Clevenger can somehow redeem himself and be welcomed back. The fact he’s a lousy ball player probably means it is just easier to part company.
Don’t know how he walks this back. The apology was a whiff.
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As others have noted, Clevenger has done Kaep a favor by demonstrating the need for athletes to come to terms with racism. Jocks make living with their bodies and often have underdeveloped minds — as Clevenger and his defenders exhibit. Poor-hitting catchers make their living by being able to relate well to pitchers, which includes those of color. How did Clevenger imagine that the could make those comments and continue to work with someone like Taijuan Walker?
“There’s a kind of stupid
All over the world tonight
All over the world
You can read the tweets of Clavenger…”
(with apologies to Les Reed, Geoff Stephens and Herman’s Hermits)