Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell is accused of some boorish, ignorant remarks, for which he’s apologized — sort of.
Calling them anti-gay slurs, as I did in an article about the incident yesterday, may be a bit much. “Are you a homo couple or a threesome?” McDowell allegedly said before using a bat to imitate a sex act. Derisive, no doubt, but I’ve heard worse. I find it more troubling that McDowell is accused of threatening a fan, though I’d like to hear from some witnesses.
Not surprisingly, gay rights groups have already convicted McDowell. A Georgia Voice reporter thinks he should be fired. Why wait to hear all the evidence? It’s just a man’s livelihood.
The Braves are also being tarred and feathered for one employee’s alleged outburst. In a letter to team president John Schuerholz, Georgia Equality demanded the entire Braves organization undergo sensitivity training. Why should Chipper Jones be punished (would you want to sit through sensitivity training) for something one of his coaches said? I find that offensive.
I’m also troubled by the linkage to John Rocker, a racist asshole without peer. McDowell is no Rocker. If he was, I’d be calling for his head.
With the rush to judgment already underway I wonder if the queer establishment will pause to consider one gay fan’s opinion.
One man who rushed to McDowell’s defense in the fall-out Thursday was Jerry Pritikin, 74, a long-time Cubs fan, who used to interact with McDowell from the bleachers at Wrigley Field in the 1980s when McDowell pitched for the Mets. He also happens to be gay.
“Being openly gay, I understand why some people would be disturbed, as I was,” Pritikin said. “But he made an apology and I accept that.”
Pritikin said he got to know McDowell personally during exchanges back and forth from the bleachers. The two used to throw Frisbee.
“He’s been such a good guy,” Pritikin said. “He always had fun with people in the bleachers, no matter what ballpark he was in, but because Chicago had such a great bleacher crowd, they really looked forward to him coming whenever he came to town. He was truly a great entertainer.”
Pritikin voiced his support of McDowell in an e-mail to Selig Thursday. He’d written Selig in recent years after anti-gay comments by former Cub Julian Tavarez and former Brave John Rocker, but those e-mails were much more critical, he said.
“I could understand someone who would not have known of Roger’s career or his antics at the ballpark might consider, ‘Well this is another hot-headed person,’” Pritikin said. “The other two guys were definitely prejudiced in what they were saying. I don’t believe Roger is that kind of guy.”
I’m not saying McDowell shouldn’t be punished or even fired. But he deserves a fair hearing.