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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Draft pick Houchins unlikely to sign with Nats

Shortstop Zach Houchins, a 15th-round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, said Monday it is unlikely that he will sign a professional contract with the Nationals.

Houchins said he hasn’t heard from the club since June after it was discovered that he made what were deemed racist and homophobic remarks on his Twitter page.

Teams have until 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 16, to come to terms with their draftees, meaning official notification has to be in the Commissioner’s Office when the clock strikes midnight. A text message to general manager Mike Rizzo was not returned.

Houchins told MLB.com back in June that he is not a racist, and he apologized to the front office.

“I called [the Nationals]. I apologized to Mr. Roy Clark [the team’s assistant general manager]. I apologized to him for what was said on Twitter,” Houchins said. “[Clark said], ‘Yeah, anything you said on Twitter was completely unacceptable.’ I understood where he was coming from. That was pretty much the conversation.

“I’m not a racist, not at all. ... Four of my best friends, two of them are black, one of them was my roommate. He is probably one of the closest people I’ve ever been around. ... Me and my four best friends became so close, it’s just how we talk. It wasn’t anything derogatory or anything like that. It’s just how we talk.”

The tweets in question. I don’t see what the big deal is, I mean his best friend is black! That gives you a pass, right?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2011 at 03:30 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media, minor leagues, nationals

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   1. steagles Posted: August 10, 2011 at 04:13 PM (#3897103)
hanlon's razor would seem to be appropriate here.
   2. bfan Posted: August 10, 2011 at 04:35 PM (#3897113)
I understand I am fighting a losing battle here as social media takes over as the primary means of communication in the world, but why would anyone think that sharing unedited, unfiltered, spontaneous snippets of thought with the world is a good idea? You are letting everyone see that little devil on your left shoulder, who is channeling himself through your fingers to the keyboard.
   3. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: August 10, 2011 at 04:53 PM (#3897126)
I understand I am fighting a losing battle here as social media takes over as the primary means of communication in the world, but why would anyone think that sharing unedited, unfiltered, spontaneous snippets of thought with the world is a good idea? You are letting everyone see that little devil on your left shoulder, who is channeling himself through your fingers to the keyboard.

How meta?
(Dude, you're posting on a message board - it's the same thing.)

***

Having read his tweets, I can say:
* this is not sufficient proof for me to think this guy is a racist. By example (and I don't think you need the same background to get this) - I grew up in a poor to lower-middle class, predominantly black neighborhood and this is more or less how most of my peers spoke^, regardless of race or opinions on same. I don't know enough of this guy's deal to judge this situation.
* this is sufficient reason not to sign the guy, given the low opportunity cost involved. If you're old enough to seek employment, you're more than old enough to know that there are consequences for saying stupid stuff online.

^ [Meaning in tone - I'm in my late 30s, so the phrasing has changed a bit over time, but the same keywords were there. Also, there were a few exceptions, self included.]
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: August 10, 2011 at 05:02 PM (#3897137)
(Dude, you're posting on a message board - it's the same thing.)


Unless his name is really bfan, I think there's at least one difference.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2011 at 05:03 PM (#3897138)
I would guess he's probably not racist - at worst he's ignorant. I doubt the Nats even care if he's racist, but there's enough risk of backlash, and not enough upside to warrant not signing himself. This could all just be for leverage too.

To kind of piggyback #2, I think there is a disturbing trend on what young people think is acceptable in public. Maybe this has always been true, but I'm kinda alarmed at the vulgar language that seems to be tossed about at a high volume in public places with children and the elderly within earshot, or the conversations some people feel free to have in front of others. Was I that coarse when I was young? Anyway, I think the internet has accelerated that because of the anonymity, only Facebook and Twitter are taking back some of that anonymity by attaching our names to our comments.
   6. bfan Posted: August 10, 2011 at 05:12 PM (#3897151)
Unless his name is really bfan, I think there's at least one difference.


and a second is that there is at least the opportunity to create context, pretext and explanation, which is very difficult when you are capped at whatever low number of characters you get per tweet.
   7. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: August 10, 2011 at 05:21 PM (#3897161)
Apart from 'snippet', I don't see a difference. I could use a pseudonym on Twitter as easily as I do here (and do) ... I can delete more easily there than here ... the only filter difference is the web nanny. Does the character limit make a difference in quality of posts? Sure - but both are social media, these are a lot more alike than different.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: August 10, 2011 at 05:28 PM (#3897169)
Apart from 'snippet', I don't see a difference. I could use a pseudonym on Twitter as easily as I do here (and do)


No, but I assumed the unspoken (unwritten) part of bfan's post was specific to Houchins and his decision not to create a Twitter pseudonym. You can also use your real name here, but he obviously chooses not to do so.
   9. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: August 10, 2011 at 05:42 PM (#3897187)
SoSH: I didn't/don't take it that way, but okay.

I think there is a disturbing trend on what young people think is acceptable in public. Maybe this has always been true, but I'm kinda alarmed at the vulgar language that seems to be tossed about at a high volume in public places with children and the elderly within earshot, or the conversations some people feel free to have in front of others. Was I that coarse when I was young? Anyway, I think the internet has accelerated that because of the anonymity, only Facebook and Twitter are taking back some of that anonymity by attaching our names to our comments.
Sure, I agree with all of that (except for the Facebook/Twitter making people feel less anonymous bit).
(FWIW, I, for one, am a lot more coarse now than then.)

Furthermore... I think that there's less general agreement as to what is considered inappropriate* (as an aspect of culture fragmentation) might be a bigger issue than that of people feeling free to do/say things that they know are inappropriate.
   10. Shredder Posted: August 10, 2011 at 05:54 PM (#3897200)
Apart from 'snippet', I don't see a difference.
Really? Here's what bfan wrote:
why would anyone think that sharing unedited, unfiltered, spontaneous snippets of thought with the world is a good idea?
I can't speak to his editing, but I doubt his comment was either unfiltered or spontaneous. There are lots of things posted on Twitter that are filtered, contemplated, and presumably edited. Houchins' tweets don't appear to be among them. I mean, there's a difference between seemingly random blasts of trivia and a measured response to a topic.
   11. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: August 10, 2011 at 06:07 PM (#3897217)
Maybe we're arguing different things. I took bfan's #2 to be a comment on the usefulness of social media and, specifically, Twitter ... as opposed to how some people use it. Do some people use it unwisely (by my standards)? Sure ... as is consistent with my take that it makes sense for the Nats not to sign this kid.
   12. Shredder Posted: August 10, 2011 at 06:19 PM (#3897234)
Maybe we're arguing different things. I took bfan's #2 to be a comment on the usefulness of social media and, specifically, Twitter
Well, there's a couple things. I think "Social Media(tm)" is not exactly the same as social media. BTF's newsstand is technically social media, but not exactly "Social Media(tm)". So I think the idea that posting here is the same as throwing out random nonsense on Twitter is, well, nonsense.

Second, with regard to "Social Media(tm)" more specifically, there are productive ways to use it and there are somewhat unproductive ways to use it, some of which (like this example) may become counter-productive. My take on bfan's first comment was that it's the unproductive uses of "Social Media(tm)" that are perplexing. There's little to no benefit involved, and occasionally consequences, sometimes serious.

Either way, posting random nonsense on Twitter is not "the same thing" as responding to an article on BTF.
   13. bob gee Posted: August 10, 2011 at 06:45 PM (#3897268)
when i was younger and had some legs and played basketball in the city, some teenage black kids would call me the n word when covering me, like "somebody stop that n*", "n* blew by you again", etc. i was 15 years older than most of them and didn't naturally look like i could play well - had a quick first step and fast shot release.

i'm white, if that didn't come across. and the incidents occurred more than 10 years ago.
   14. Jay Z Posted: August 10, 2011 at 07:03 PM (#3897282)
To kind of piggyback #2, I think there is a disturbing trend on what young people think is acceptable in public. Maybe this has always been true, but I'm kinda alarmed at the vulgar language that seems to be tossed about at a high volume in public places with children and the elderly within earshot, or the conversations some people feel free to have in front of others. Was I that coarse when I was young? Anyway, I think the internet has accelerated that because of the anonymity, only Facebook and Twitter are taking back some of that anonymity by attaching our names to our comments.


The elderly? Didn't the current elderly buy any George Carlin albums? Pretty close to it.
   15. Greg K Posted: August 10, 2011 at 07:07 PM (#3897290)
Either way, posting random nonsense on Twitter is not "the same thing" as responding to an article on BTF.

You clearly haven't read many of my comments on this website.
   16. Greg K Posted: August 10, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3897312)
I think there is a disturbing trend on what young people think is acceptable in public.

You're telling me.
They firebombed three police stations here last night. Those little rascals!
   17. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 10, 2011 at 07:24 PM (#3897313)
Maybe this has always been true, but I'm kinda alarmed at the vulgar language that seems to be tossed about at a high volume in public places with children and the elderly within earshot . . .

The elderly? Didn't the current elderly buy any George Carlin albums?

Back in the day, the concern would have been about using coarse language in front of women and children. Not so much now, since women have won the right to be as vulgar as men.
   18. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: August 10, 2011 at 07:33 PM (#3897324)
Ah, the 'my best friend is black' defense moves on to another generation. The classics never die. Hopefully when he finally does sign a pro deal and trades up on his girlfriend he'll tell her "it's not you, it's me".
   19. mex4173 Posted: August 10, 2011 at 08:53 PM (#3897401)
To kind of piggyback #2, I think there is a disturbing trend on what young people think is acceptable in public. Maybe this has always been true, but I'm kinda alarmed at the vulgar language that seems to be tossed about at a high volume in public places with children and the elderly within earshot, or the conversations some people feel free to have in front of others. Was I that coarse when I was young? Anyway, I think the internet has accelerated that because of the anonymity, only Facebook and Twitter are taking back some of that anonymity by attaching our names to our comments.


I'm a young people, and I've thought the same thing for quite a while. Partly out of consideration for others, and partly why risk saying something around the 1/100 that will get in your face about it. I can think of better ways to spend my time than having a stranger yell at me for saying \"####\".
   20. zachtoma Posted: August 10, 2011 at 11:26 PM (#3897470)
Four of my best friends, two of them are black


LOL, that's the oldest excuse in the book, kid, got anything else?
   21. Something Other Posted: August 11, 2011 at 02:23 AM (#3897657)
Having read his tweets, I can say:
* this is not sufficient proof for me to think this guy is a racist. By example (and I don't think you need the same background to get this) - I grew up in a poor to lower-middle class, predominantly black neighborhood and this is more or less how most of my peers spoke^, regardless of race or opinions on same. I don't know enough of this guy's deal to judge this situation.
* this is sufficient reason not to sign the guy, given the low opportunity cost involved. If you're old enough to seek employment, you're more than old enough to know that there are consequences for saying stupid stuff online.
The second paragraph doesn't follow from the first, in my humble opinion. I'm just not seeing that this is (at least as excerpted in the linked article) degenerate stuff emblematic of an unredeemable reprobate. I'd meet with the kid and see how he seems and if I could get a sense of his true character, but there's nothing here that on its face renders the kid unfit to play pro ball. If his worst sin is that he ought to know better, that can be taught, no?
   22. JE (Jason) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:48 AM (#3897766)
As RR implied, Houchins was a 15th-round selection; accordingly, he was not worth the risk. If Bryce Harper had made those comments immediately after being drafted, the Nats still would have ponied up the cash.
   23. Something Other Posted: August 12, 2011 at 08:01 AM (#3898551)
I'm not concerned with correct corporate policy for the Nationals, I'm talking about the kid saying some stupid things and finding out what kind of human being he is.
   24. formerly dp Posted: August 12, 2011 at 10:53 AM (#3898559)
I taught a course that dealt with social media last semester, and one of my students played minor league ball. He said the team actually gives them really specific instructions on what they "can" (more of a very stern "should") and can't say on social media. Having him in the class, as someone a little older than my other students who actually had some experience with an employer laying out guidelines for social media use, helped me sell the rest of them on the idea that they need to carefully police their "digital shadow". I don't agree with how heavy-handed employers have become about this, but my agreement or disagreement doesn't change the reality they're stepping into.
   25. AJMcCringleberry Posted: August 12, 2011 at 11:14 AM (#3898560)
Being a white guy who roomed with a black guy for a semester in college I feel fully qualified* to comment on this. I was never close enough to him to use the n-word, but he had some non-black friends who would come around and they would all call each other n-words. So I don't think his use of the word means much, assuming he's telling the truth about his relationship with his friends. Of course, he's still an idiot for doing it on twitter.

*I'm mostly kidding on the fully qualified part.
   26. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 12, 2011 at 11:40 AM (#3898563)
If you're not lying about your best friends being black, is it a legitimate excuse? Seems to me like it would be. I always thought true problem with that excuse was that it was generally news to the black "friends" of the putative racist.
   27. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: August 12, 2011 at 12:27 PM (#3898569)
If you're not lying about your best friends being black, is it a legitimate excuse? Seems to me like it would be. I always thought true problem with that excuse was that it was generally news to the black "friends" of the putative racist.
No, it is not a legitimate excuse. You can be very, very racist and still have friends who are of another race.

I am of the opinion that you can make a joke about anything, but there are certain types of jokes you should only make around people who know you and know when you're making a joke and when you're expressing your actual beliefs.
   28. formerly dp Posted: August 12, 2011 at 12:45 PM (#3898574)
If you're not lying about your best friends being black, is it a legitimate excuse? Seems to me like it would be. I always thought true problem with that excuse was that it was generally news to the black "friends" of the putative racist.

During an after-hours game of pool, with 6 of us hanging out at a bar, a white guy from Jersey dropped an N-bomb. One of the guys shooting pool was black and worked at the bar-- he was not happy, not ready to fight the guy, but pissed that the guy would be so stupid. The guy from Jersey was lucky to get out of there without a pool stick shoved up his ass. He wouldn't apologize, because he "has black friends, so it's ok."
   29. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: August 12, 2011 at 01:19 PM (#3898579)
No, it is not a legitimate excuse. You can be very, very racist and still have friends who are of another race.

Friends, sure. But best friends? I have a best friend who's a woman, I like to think I'm significantly less misogynistic than most of my friends, who do not have close platonic female friends (and would readily admit after a beer or two that they only would have a "close female friend" that they stick their dicks into)

Sure, racist guy can have black-guy-in-circle-of-friends-that-he-doesn't-hang-out-with-one-on-one, but "best friend"? How racist could you be?
   30. Something Other Posted: August 15, 2011 at 09:23 AM (#3900109)
Probably not very racist, unless you're one of those people who somehow manage to think that the friend is an exception to the "rule" of his race, whatever you (not you, of course) believe that to be.

Speaking of female friends, my hat's off to you. Friendship is often a rocky road, and retaining women friends, let alone a woman best friend, is not easy.
   31. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 15, 2011 at 09:56 AM (#3900110)
Speaking of female friends, my hat's off to you. Friendship is often a rocky road, and retaining women friends, let alone a woman best friend, is not easy.


I'm extremely shy around women, but my best friend is female; we've been close, completely platonic, friends for 25 years, and I think I'm probably closer to her now than I ever have been, and more comfortable around her than I am with my male friends...
   32. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: August 15, 2011 at 12:28 PM (#3900129)
Sure, racist guy can have black-guy-in-circle-of-friends-that-he-doesn't-hang-out-with-one-on-one, but "best friend"? How racist could you be?


Heck, my brother-in-law is quite racist towards people of Latino descent, but is (fairly happily, it appears) married to one. There's not a high degree of introspection going on with the racism, I suspect.

He's also, hilariously, accidentally racist towards Jewish people. While having dinner with his step-father (Jewish), he casually used a rather unpleasant word for a Jewish person, thinking that it applied to Koreans. I think the first letter was all he was going on, to be honest. I wasn't there, but my step-father's response was apparently both compelling, and rather scary, for a man with an extensive private collection of firearms.

Actually, I'm not sure he knows he's being racist. I think, in all honesty, he thinks he's being efficient with language, and possibly witty at the same time.

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