Yesterday’s news of Steve Clevenger making the astonishingly stupid decision to tell the whole world about his very unpopular, and racist, opinions was the kind of story that keeps PR directors up at night. In an emotionally charged, fractious, often violent political and social environment, one of the team’s players interjected himself into the situation, publicly, with zero tact or grace.
Clevenger’s position on the team as an injured, second or third-string catcher makes the necessary public denouncement, and disassociation a relatively simple process. All that was left was the discipline. And now we have it, or at least the first step of it.
The #Mariners have announced that catcher Steve Clevenger has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the season.— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) September 23, 2016
To be perfectly honest, and at the risk of editorializing a very inflammatory issue, I had hoped that the team would cut him. I wanted them to send an emphatic and irrefutable message that they do not condone Clevenger's thoughts, nor the amazingly insensitive manner in which they were expressed. The thought of rooting for Clevenger moving forward is a distasteful one for me, and the thought of him continuing to represent the team I've rooted for my whole life equally so.
I do not, I confess, have a good understanding of the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, and so I cannot speak as to whether there are clauses that may have limited the team's punitive authority with regards to social media use. What I do know, is that by suspending Clevenger, who enters his first arbitration year next year, the team has made it simple set themselves apart from him before the winter, when they can simply non-tender him. This is the way to ensure that he never again is a Seattle Mariner, or affiliated with the organization.
The team has now responded with strong verbal condemnation, and taken away his livelihood for the remainder of the season. For many, that won't be enough. For others, the fact that it's an issue at all is itself a form of outrage. This is the world in which we live.
For now, the important news is Steve Clevenger is gone, and he's not coming back.
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