Baseball player suspended over Black Lives Matter tweets

Technically Incorrect: Seattle's pro baseball team suspends catcher Steve Clevenger for, among other things, calling the group pathetic after the Charlotte protests.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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One of Clevenger's tweets.

Dan Clark/Twitter screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Yet again, instant tweeting has brought only sorrow.

All it takes it a couple of thoughts with too much of the inner self enclosed and someone's not going to like it.

Occasionally, for good reason.

The latest example is Seattle Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger.

As CNN reports, he took to Twitter on Thursday and offered some opinions about events in Charlotte after the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and their wider ramifications.

Though Clevenger's account is now private, some captured screenshots. The result is that he's been suspended for the rest of the season by his team.

In one tweet Clevenger offered: "BLM [Black Lives Matter] is pathetic once again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals!"

Another read: "Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black officer haha shit cracks me up! Keep kneeling for the Anthem!"

There's currently no clear evidence that Scott had a gun. Indeed, footage released shot by his wife doesn't show a gun at all.

The Seattle Mariners didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The team did, however, release a statement from Executive Vice President and General Manager of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto.

"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. Today we have informed him that he is suspended for the remainder of the season without pay," the statement said.

The suspension is at best symbolic (other than the money part), as Clevenger hasn't played since late June, when he broke a bone in his hand.

For his part, Clevenger offered an apologetic statement to the media and Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal posted his words to Facebook.

"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," he said.

Does this mean Clevenger doesn't feel deeply about the subject? Or does it mean his words were over-interpreted? They did appear fairly clear.

He insisted that he grew up in a culturally diverse area of Baltimore and that he prides himself on not being judgmental.

Many commenters on Facebook were quite judgmental, finding his words self-serving.

"Let's just continue to keep it real: You're sorry that you accidentally outed yourself to the world as the racist POS you are, and sorry for the ensuing reaction, not sorry for what you said," said Linda Mohl.

Some, though, defended his First Amendment rights.

"Let him be booed out of the stadium by the majority of fans who disagree with him," said Candace Anderson, "but no one should be 'suspended for the reminder of the season without pay' for saying what he thinks, no matter how controversial."

One of baseball's biggest struggles is developing African-American players.

Only last week, Clevenger's former teammate in Baltimore, Adam Jones -- who is black -- called baseball "a white man's sport." A mere 8 percent of major league players are African-American.

Players are given warnings and pointers about their use of social media. They all (should) know where the difficult areas might be.

Many sports figures have still enjoyed troubles because of their tweeting.

For example, the Cleveland Browns' Isaiah Crowell got into trouble for tweeting an image of a police officer having his throat slit. It's not just players. ESPN suspended baseball writer Keith Law from Twitter for getting into a Twitter-spat over creationism. It suspended Keith Olbermann too for sparring with Penn State students.

Sometimes, though, emotions can get the better of you. And that's when Twitter lurks, promising that it can help you let off steam and feel much better.