Don’t fall out of your chairs with shock when I tell you many athletes cheat. They cheat and dope and cut corners until they get caught, and then many of them find new ways to circumvent tests and continue cheating.
I remember when Ryan Braun, then a perennial MVP candidate for my beloved Milwaukee Brewers, was busted for cheating in 2013. I wasn’t shocked he cheated. I was angry about the way he ducked and dodged and potentially ruined an honest working man’s life in the process. He accused Dino Laurenzi Jr. of tampering with his urine sample after he collected it, and later admitted he lied but did little in the way of apologizing for placing Laurenzi under the bus and throwing it into drive.
This Josh Hader thing feels like deja vu all over again. For baseball fans and, frankly, regular news consumers who completely tuned out over the All-Star break and missed it, a flurry of horribly insensitive and racist things the Brewers pitcher wrote on Twitter in 2011 and ’12 were unearthed during the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday.
It’s an assortment of bigoted statements targeting black and gay people, with some misogyny thrown in.
Yeah, Hader was 17 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, when it was written. But 17-year-olds can be tried as adults in court, and Hader will have to throw himself at the mercy of the court of public opinion every time he takes the hill.
His teammates, including Lorenzo Cain, came to his defense Tuesday night, but that’s somewhat to be expected. While I’m not hoping my fellow Crew fans boo him the next time he takes the bump, I’m hoping their reception is muted. He’s got a long way to go in what could be a doomed battle to win back the hearts of people he deeply offended, this columnist included.
The Brewers organization, recognizing Hader’s immense talent and puffing its chest over how it fleeced the Houston Astros to get him, have featured Hader in myriad promotions, one of the earliest a Wayne’s World spoof in which he played the Garth Algar to Brett Phillips’ Wayne Campbell.
He’d won me over, not only with his Chris Sale-quality deceptive fastball and his wipeout slider, but he seemed like a good kid, right?
Shame on me for being duped.
Here’s my takeaway: Hader’s tweets didn’t come out of left field. I’m a firm believer we are what we learn from our family, our communities, the people with whom we surround ourselves. It makes me grateful I live here in DeKalb, where the school district is focusing on socioeconomic needs and police seem to have little to no tolerance for hate crimes.
It also re-emphasizes the importance of having direct, daily conversations with my children about what they hear, what it means and what should be avoided altogether.
• Christopher Heimerman is the editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.