Jon Heyman: Josh Hader's tweets repugnant, but MLB got penalty right



Josh Hader’s tweets from his high school days were repugnant, gross and offensive. And MLB responded by ordering him into sensitivity training – and not suspending him. That's the correct response.

Some of the reactions on Twitter to Hader's own tweets were over-the-top.


The trolls, crazies and nasties were out in full force. Yes, of course what he said was reprehensible. But it shouldn’t ruin his life. He’s 24, with ample time for a comeback.

Twitter is often not a nice place. It's a place to pile on. And that’s what it became on All-Star night.

Obviously, Hader as a child – and the tweets occurred when he was 17, which still counts as a child – had some serious issues. But let’s be clear that no one on the team previously had any inkling of racist or repulsive thoughts by Hader. They also all seem to love him. Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress and Jesús Aguilar all offered varying degrees of support for him and endorsements of his character after learning of the tweets during the All-Star Game.

Good for Cain, Jeffress and Aguilar – all three are minorities – who should be respected for supporting a teammate in trouble. They had to hate what they heard about the tweets, which were vile – one simply said “White Power,” and others were along those lines – yet they recalled the teammate they’ve known, and stood by him.

It’s dangerous territory to praise Hader for anything at a time like this, but it was better that he faced the reporters following the revealed social media posts, and answered each and every question. The gist is that he was sorry for his “stupid” tweets and has grown up since then.

Say this for him, too: he didn’t hide from the media, and he didn’t hide from his teammates. He went right over to Cain, put his arm around him, and offered some sort of explanation (though we weren’t privy to that conversation).



The trolls let loose with the old emails during the game, and it’s possible they came out with them because they were upset he gave up the go-ahead runs and a key home run to the Mariners’ Jean Segura. But I almost wonder whether my tweet, in which I praised Hader's unassuming manner and seeming kindness upon meeting him pregame — I even said he was new favorite All-Star — had anything to do with their decision to expose his teenage idiocy.

If so, I feel guilty for contributing to such an ugly attack by folks anxious to cause grief to others. I understand the negative responses to his tweets by scores of average fans, who were genuinely disgusted by his repugnant views from seven years ago. What he said certainly warranted outrage.

There were many that tweeted to me with the relatively unclever “this tweet didn’t age well,” and that’s fine – though I still wonder whether it wasn’t just happenstance, and the exposure was in response to my very high praise for him. (I did snap back at a few who sent my tweet to @OldTakesExposed, whose entire goal as far as I can tell is to make other folks look bad. I give OTE credit for not piling on, and ignoring the professional tattles who deputized themselves as @OldTakesExposed helpers in this case.)


Anyway, while Hader deserves our immediate scorn for his vile words, no one should give up on him. He hasn’t been known to exhibit any bad behavior around the Brewers, and it’s possible he was just an idiot as a kid (some of the tweets are believed to have been taken from a rap song, but that’s really not much of an excuse).

He seems child-like now, so I can only imagine what he was like as a 17-year-old. Perhaps he has matured a lot since.

To be exposed like this, on the greatest stage he’s ever been on, and in his “hometown” is undoubtedly punishment in itself (he’s from Maryland, and friends and family were at the game; Jeff Passan of Yahoo reported that family members felt compelled or were asked to remove jerseys with his name on them following the outing).

He deserved his rough night. But barring any unseemly recurrence of this sort of ignominious behavior, the kid has been punished enough.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.

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