Braves Pitching Coach Roger McDowell has apologized for the anti-gay and threatening remarks he is accused of making towards Giants fans, at a game in San Francisco this weekend.
Last night, McDowell issued the following statement:
“I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday. I apologize to everyone for my actions.”
...which is certainly a good start - but he, the Braves organization, and Major League Baseball need to prove they understand that the problem here isn't the fact THAT McDowell responded to his apparent hecklers - it's the fact that he chose to respond with homophobic taunts and anti-gay language. (and also apparently told some kids they shouldn't go to baseball games, then walked up to their dad with a bat and asked him "how much are your teeth worth?") We issued this statement after seeing McDowell's apology:
“The Atlanta Braves and Major League Baseball must take real disciplinary action and send the message that anti-gay slurs have no place in sports,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Professional sporting events should be an environment that all fans and families can enjoy, not a place where children are exposed to violent threats and discriminatory language.”
Baseball is a beautiful game with a long and cherished tradition of being one the family-friendliest of all our country's major sports. Incidents like this tarnish the game's reputation as the national pastime, and apologies or actions that don't address the core issue do very little to restore it.
On a personal level, not only is baseball my game, the Braves are one of my teams. Even though I grew up in the northeast, the Braves were my grandmother's team, stemming from their time as the Boston Braves (pre-1953.) Add to that, the fact that Ted Turner's "Superstation" carried Braves games to households across the country in the early-to-mid 1980s, through the growing medium of cable television. Long before the internet, long before satellite TV, baseball fans throughout America had access to three teams; whoever their home team was, whoever was playing in the nationally broadcast game on Saturday afternoon, and the Atlanta Braves. (For a while, the team even used the nickname "America's Team.")
We're reaching out to the Braves to try to get them to address this incident in a more meaningful and positive manner - in a way that would befit that nickname. We're also reaching out to the Giants and Major League Baseball, to see where we can be of service in sending positive messages to the game's young fans and their parents.