Is racism like, a low key sickness of the mind? Or, if not racism – since I can’t make a strong case for that given the limited amount of info at hand – then bias or insensitivity, are they potential symptoms of a deeper mental condition? I ask because I just don’t understand how an adult, especially one in a high-profile position like MLB umpire Robert Drake, could possibly think it wouldn’t bite him in the ass to misuse Twitter the way he did on Tuesday.
His Twitter account has been deactivated – probably the smartest thing he’s done this week; destroy the evidence before the world picks you apart – but a few days ago he tweeted that he would be purchasing an AR-15 rifle because, “if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVAL WAR!!! #MAGA2020.”
Okay. Let’s unpack, shall we?
Discounting the misspelling, overuse of exclamation points and inflammatory choice of hashtags, we can infer from this tweet that Drake is quite passionate and emotional about this issue. Passion and emotion are not necessarily bad things, even on social media – unless the topic is potentially divisive, and this political one certainly is.
We’re knee deep in impeachment mess right now with that person in the White House. A lot of people are feeling some type of way about the whole sordid affair. Mentioning the Civil War brings race into the conversation, since a racial divide was a key facet of that particular battle. As if that wasn’t enough, Drake’s tweet brought guns into the conversation. This at a time when American society is literally awash in deaths related to gun violence. Not too long ago, it felt like we had horrible shoot ups every other week.
Here’s the thing though. The average person can feel however they like; they may even get away with tweeting about it without becoming an international headline. But not everyone’s job is like Drake’s. His role is to be consistently, completely impartial during live action scenarios.
So, I can’t help but wonder. Does he really want his job? Here’s why I’m thinking he doesn’t. He’s 50 years old. According to Wikipedia, he’s been working in Major League Baseball since September 1999. That’s 20 years on the job. Another piece I read said he’s been working in MLB since 2010. Either way, that’s long enough to have learned a great deal and absorbed a host of lessons through experience and exposure alone.
Granted, when he started, social media hadn’t been invented yet. But the media has always been a thing. It goes with the territory when you work for a huge, internationally well-known organization, you are careful about what you say or do. Or, you should be.
That’s where the passion and the emotion should be ejected. A MLB umpire can passionately love the game and even get emotional about all manner of things: beautiful interplay between teams during a game, watching great players during career highlights, etc. But on the field, is anyone interested in wondering whether or not this man has made a fair and just call in a high stress moment of play? No. Absolutely not.
I’m no baseball expert. I’m barely basic when it comes to the game. I know what the equipment looks like and the rudimentary rules of play. But I do believe that a key part of Drake’s role as an umpire is built on trust. As in, I trust this individual to watch the game and call out the correct plays to determine who wins and who loses in this high stakes, well paid arena.
Even if he’s not racist or biased or insensitive, now we’re all left to wonder about his judgment. A grown man who’s been in a high-profile professional career for 10-20 years thought it was okay to tweet out something political and highly inflammatory. He did this during a time when his employer is already under media stress and during a political climate that needs only the faintest spark to ignite a blaze worse than the most devastating forest fire.
If I was a player of color who’d been on the wrong end of one of Drake’s calls in the past, now my brain would be whirring: Was that call fair? Was he influenced by his personal beliefs? Beliefs that savvy, inclusive organizations want no part in claiming.
Drake has since apologized “to everyone that my words made feel less safe.” He also said sorry “for the controversy this has brought to Major League Baseball, my fellow umpires, and my family. I never intended to diminish the threat of violence from assault weapons, or violence of any kind.”
The MLB is supposedly looking into the whole thing. So, we’ll see what they do. It will be enlightening either way things go, and I only see two possible scenarios: punishment or forgiveness. The former could be as bad as Drake being fired or at the very least fined or suspended from work. The latter could be as lenient as brushing the entire incident under the rug.
I began this blog querying Drake’s mental state and faculties. I wasn’t just trying to be funny or catch your attention. I believe that statements like the one he made on Twitter are quite revealing. If you follow me, by now you likely know where I stand on issues like racism, bias, violence, extremism, injustice, even unfairness.
To me, that single tweet revealed far too much about his beliefs, his mindset, and his values. What people say on social media is quite often truthful. We know that. That’s why we get so upset about this or that on Twitter or Facebook, etc. That’s why it pays to be prudent when using social media in general.
This person does not work in a vacuum. He works in a large, well known organization filled with diverse employees/players. His role requires that he be unbiased, forthright, trustworthy as he acts as a key baseball arbiter. His recent actions display extremely poor judgment.
So, should MLB cancel Robert Drake, whose judgment and ability – I feel – has rightly been called into question following his actions? Or, should we chalk this one up to a case of poor social media judgment, and forgive and forget? What do you think? Sound off in the comments.