Regardless of his struggles on the mound, no one, including Chicago Cubs hurler Carl Edwards Jr., deserves the type of racist messages he’s seen on social media.
Chicago demoted the lanky right-hander on Apr. 6 after he posted a 32.40 ERA in four appearances. During that stretch, he allowed six earned runs and walked five in just 1 2/3 innings of work. In the wake of his struggles, a trail of unacceptable scrutiny arose – one that no player deserves, regardless of performance.
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According to Cubs beat writer Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, MLB is investigating racist messages that Edwards has received on his Instagram (subscription required).
Edwards had already been dealt a hefty setback when MLB deemed that his modified delivery that he had some success with in Spring Training was actually illegal, despite no prior contact between the league offices and Cubs representatives.
Now, he carries the extra baggage of dealing with disgusting and deplorable fan behavior.
No place for racism in baseball
For some reason, there is a growing feeling among fans across all sports that they have a certain level of invincibility in terms of their interactions with the players.
The NBA has had numerous issues with fan involvement, most notably dealing with a verbal altercation between Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and a Utah Jazz fan in which the fan made racially-charged comments and was subsequently banned for life by the Jazz organization.
This, in turn, was followed by a piece in The Players Tribune by Jazz shooting guard Kyle Korver, who wrote about acknowledging his own white privilege and encouraging sports communities, in particular, to become more educated and sensitive with respect to race relations.
Make no mistake, these same issues persist in Major League Baseball. In fact, Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Adam Jones recently spoke on fans frequently crossing the lines in how they talk to players. Jones addressed racism in baseball in 2017 as well, when he said he received racial taunts and verbal threats from Boston Red Sox fans.
Such behavior is totally reprehensible. What makes Edwards’ situation even worse is that the messages–sent via social media–reflect utter cowardice and a total lack of respect.
Black players have made some of the greatest contributions in baseball history. Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron endured tremendous persecution in their pursuit of greatness, showing nothing but grace and courage along the way.
Step up, Cubs fans
Baseball is an amalgamation of cultures. There is absolutely no place for fans exhibiting such abhorrent and racist behavior, whether it be at the ballpark or on social media.
Just as the NBA is currently taking measures to address fan behavior and hold teams accountable, the MLB must likewise encourage their organizations to make strong statements in categorically denying racist behavior.
As for Cubs fans, the message should be simple: be better. Racism has no place in society at large, much less in sports. There is a way to be critical or analytical about the game without resorting to hateful rhetoric.
Athletes have the same level of emotion and cultural pride as that of a casual citizen. Show some more sensitivity, and rise above.